School district administrators and Mountain View City Council members say 50 new spots around the school will be a short-term solution to the dispute over parking and traffic, which has existed between students and neighbors for more than 40 years.
The city has prohibited parking outside the high school on and off since 1969. Neighbors say off-campus parking only adds to the noise and traffic, and they worry about pedestrian and biker safety. On the other side, school administrators and students argue the additional parking is important for both students and volunteers.
The "new spots will definitely improve traffic. It will help get parking out of the community and into the school," said Barry Groves, superintendent of the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District.
The City Council agreed in April that students could park on the school side of Truman and Bryant streets if the district added more parking spots in the school parking lot, as well as bike racks on campus to encourage students to use alternative modes of transportation. In exchange, the city would add a crosswalk at Bruckner Circle and Truman, put up new "share the road" signage and stripe the sidewalks around the campus.
The result was 68 more parking spots on campus at a cost of $88,000 to the district. Along with the 50 spaces on the street, that means students will have 118 more parking spots when they return to school this Monday, Aug. 18.
"Having 118 more spots goes a long way in alleviating congestion," said Joe White, associate superintendent of business services.
"We told the city we would continue to look at biking, and [on Wednesday] we are installing three new racks," White added.
The city also put aside $100,000 for a traffic feasibility study and consulting. Senior administrative analyst Peter Skinner said the eight-month study will help determine the next steps in the parking issue.
"The recommendations approved by the council are a good compromise, considering the different stakeholders," Skinner said.
After talking to neighbors about their parking concerns, representatives from the district asked the council last February to once again allow parking off campus. The council held a public meeting, with input from neighbors, students, parents and administrators, and then sent a recommendation to the Bike/Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The committee reviewed the recommendations, made a few alterations, and on April 22, the council approved the new parking agreement.
Community members said they worry about safety during rush hour, but the committee found no pedestrian or bike accidents in the last 10 years, including four and a half years when the city allowed parking on the street.
Neither council members nor administrators think the new agreement is a long-term solution.
"The recommendation we see is a very small Band-Aid that will fall off very soon," council member Laura Macias said in February.