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Mountain View adopts new plan to ease downtown parking woes

Original post made on Nov 10, 2021

Paid parking, more enforcement and better wayfinding are now part of Mountain View's plans to better manage limited parking and a crush of demand during the busiest hours on Castro Street.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 10, 2021, 12:34 PM

Comments (13)

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2021 at 4:05 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

This is perfect now that the shopping is disappearing downtown and everything is either vacant or a restaurant of some sort. No need to worry about people not driving there if there's no shopping going on anyway! There might be some impact on the restaurants though if only people willing to pay to park can come to eat there, but they could always work out some sort of way to validate. This is done a lot in downtown San Jose. Just because it's paid doesn't mean the customer has to break out the cost separately.

Posted by Dan Waylonis
a resident of Jackson Park
on Nov 10, 2021 at 4:12 pm

Dan Waylonis is a registered user.

Seems like rather than wishful thinking and guess work, council could poll people in downtown for a couple weeks to get an actual picture of how they prefer to travel. I suspect walking, biking, and public transit are very low on the list.

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 10, 2021 at 4:27 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Paid parking is a great solution for those with high disposable incomes. The gentrification of MV continues!

"Studies of the downtown corridor show that there are arguably plenty of parking spaces already available, just not in the prime, high-demand locations."

If this is true, another alternative would be to run a shuttle that allowed people to park and ride to prime locations. It could be like the Disney trams, which I always loved as a kid. Or like the retro and unique trolley cars that run in SF along some lines. Maybe make them like monopoly pieces or something consistent with the MV logo. Make the shuttle fun, and it could even be an attribute that encourages more people to come and visit of our fine city!

When encouraging change, one can either reach for carrots or sticks. Reaching for carrots to ease parking woes and reduce traffic congestion would involve PROVIDING ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION that does a great job and makes it easy to get around. Reaching for sticks, on the other hand, involve changes to make it more painful to use a car. Such solutions will hurt those who have less disposable income, and those challenged physically and are unable to bike or walk great distances; they have a whiff of both ageism and ableism about them.

""It would be great if we could solve that public transit problem."

This ^^^^^^.

I'd much rather see our city reaching for better transportation alternatives, instead of simply reaching to punish those who drive cars.

Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 10, 2021 at 4:57 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.

Given how much it costs to own and operate most vehicles, nominal parking charges could help fund additional localized transportation options. If you can't afford to park, you probably are not working and can adjust to off-peak hours downtown. With a little planning, many of us might be able to use the existing community shuttle program for some of our downtown trips, again easier if one has time, rather than money to spare. We have some time to figure this out, as downtown restaurants don't seem quite ready to return to full indoor capacity.

Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 10, 2021 at 4:58 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Leslie, we provide car owners with truckloads of carrots, and I think calling taking back one of them (free parking subsidized by taxpayers) "reaching for the stick" is more than a little out of touch.

Posted by Jon B
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 11, 2021 at 7:13 am

Jon B is a registered user.

Not everyone in Mountain View is rich; there are still a few middle and working class residents left. ‘No’ to paid parking. I avoid downtown SJ for that reason, and will shop in Los Altos or Sunnyvale if paid parking is implemented.

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 11, 2021 at 10:48 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Old Steve, the community shuttle Web Link is a lovely service to get around most of Mountain View, but it only operates from 10am to 6pm. I would love to be able to use it to go downtown for dinner, but the shuttle schedule does not permit that.

I've examined the 220-page strategy document. Chapter 2 summarizes the existing conditions analysis, but did not contain any kind of information about public transportation options during peak periods. Top Fact 10 is "Some parking supply could be "created" by improving access to existing spaces", however something like a shuttle was apparently not even considered. Lol on the word "some". Discussion is about "improved wayfinding and information" and "an expanded valet program". Again, a shuttle was not considered.

In Chapter 3, the guiding principles for the Strategy Toolkit include "Comprehensive" "Equitable", and "Efficient".

- Failure to consider public transportation options like a downtown-centric shuttle during peak hours means that the examination to date has not been comprehensive.

- Under Equitable, I like "the overall package of strategies should equitably balance public costs and benefits to meet the needs of everyone who lives, works, and visits downtown". However, those words are sandwiched between anti-car language that leads me to believe that the goal is to please anti-car advocates (reduce spending on car-centric models), rather than on actually focusing on the NEEDS OF ALL PERSONS, including low-income and average wage earners. Service workers need access to downtown too.

- Efficient: "Managing the existing public parking supply is the best way to support parking demands". Yes!

I think a shuttle that ran during peak hours and includes stops at all key public parking structures would 1) RAPIDLY improve wayfinding, 2) be EQUITABLE to all wage earners, and 3) be highly EFFICIENT. Make the shuttle FUN, and people will want to use it.

We don't need to spend years solving this problem, it could be solved today.

Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 11, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.

As I pointed out, paid parking could be used to fund such a shuttle. As for when is "peak time", on weekends in my family, we are frequently looking for dinner before 6pm. We are lucky to be able to walk or bike to downtown. Clearly, not everybody can do that. Equally clearly, more people will at least consider it if parking downtown is more highly regulated. So if we want a shuttle, and parking enforcement, the easiest way is a nominal charge for the parking. Nominal being the key word. In actual, urban downtowns like SF or SJ, parking charges are certainly not nominal. Folks who live in Mtn Vw but will shop in Los Altos if our parking is not free -- Don't forget to include the extra carbon costs of your extended shopping trip.=))

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 12, 2021 at 11:55 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Is MV so poor that we cannot afford to fund a relatively cheap, downtown centric shuttle that runs during peak hours and includes stops at all key public parking structures?

There are extravagant plans to turn downtown into a pedestrian mall, where is the funding for that coming from? A survey was circulated to gauge support for each of three options; no cost information was provided on it. The winner was "option C" which is much more expensive than the other two choices. We have the funding for that, but we have to find more to run a simple shuttle that could IMMEDIATELY help alleviate the "crush of demand during the busiest hours on Castro Street"?

Paid parking is a solution that hurts low-income and average wage-earners much more than those with high incomes, who can easily pay for parking or even an uber. If we are trying to make MV more hospitable to low-income and average wage-earners (that's why we are urbanizing our little suburb, right? to bring the cost of housing down?), paid parking is not the way to do it.

Googlers won't need to pay for expensive parking on the days they decide against eating at work for free, they can take a bus instead Web Link ; it runs during both peak lunch and dinner hours. Perfect! I have no doubt that once the NBPP is complete, a shuttle will be provided to allow the techies living in that little slice of heaven ("close to jobs") access to downtown.

But what about those of us who live here but don't work for Google? Levying fines on those who use cars is disproportionally unfair to low-income and average-income people if they have no other viable alternative.

Increasing density while removing parking is cruel unless ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION is provided. Providing shuttle(s), etc. is a NECESSITY if people are to leave their cars at home. IMHO, Google could generate much goodwill by providing a downtown shuttle; it could even be cute: "SEARCH-ing for parking? Climb aboard!"

Posted by Dave K
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 12, 2021 at 1:51 pm

Dave K is a registered user.

Another consideration with paid parking lots is the (un)reliability of automated payment collection systems. Unless the paid parking lot has a human attendant (and they are rare these days), a driver can get stuck behind a gate when the payment machine has broken down or the ticket is unreadable. This leaves one stranded for an unknown period of time. This has happened to me more than once, and so I tend to avoid non-attended paid parking lots whenever possible. Converting the currently free lots in Mountain View to such paid lots will thus have me looking elsewhere for shopping and dining.

Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Nov 14, 2021 at 7:51 am

Jeremy Hoffman is a registered user.

There's nothing ironic about the fact that free parking leads to congested parking lots; that parked cars take up huge amounts of square footage, which artificially increases the physical distance between locations; and that parking lots are extremely expensive uses of land (not to mention the cost of building garages).

You've probably heard of these issues or thought about them yourself. More and more people have woken up to this. "The High Cost of Free Parking" by Donald Shoup was published in 2005.

It's not about banning cars, it's about more effectively using the public resources we have. Charging a modest parking fee based on demand actually HELPS the people who DO need to drive and who DO need a closer parking space. I'm an able-bodied man who enjoys biking. But if it's free for me to park in the most desirable location, why wouldn't I drive a car there instead of biking? But when I do, I'm taking the parking space away from someone who couldn't bike, and would actually be pretty happy to pay a couple bucks to save thirty minutes of circling.

It's like charging a modest fee for plastic bags at the grocery store. It sure felt annoying when it was introduced. And people probably raised concerns about people who need the bags. But you know what happened? A gentle nudge was all it took and now bag reuse is commonplace.

Posted by Tal Shaya
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2021 at 12:54 pm

Tal Shaya is a registered user.

Discouraging parking, and/or limiting parking to wealthy techies, are not solutions. Paid parking contributes to income inequality.

Parking is already severely limited in downtown Mtn. View. I was to meet a friend on Castro St. but could not find parking in a four block radius. This is what happens when a quiet street becomes a metro center. It's poor planning.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2021 at 1:00 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

You don't have to shop in Sunnyvale or Los Altos if they put in parking fees downtown. There are really almost NO stores left at which to shop in downtown. It's changed a lot fairly recently. Even the food places open up and close down after less than a year when they try to operate downtown. So many storefronts have become empty. The buildings are being used for OFFICE SPACE. Now, it's a question whether that will continue with the new work styles people have learned to use. We could lose even the office occupants. It's mostly the potential workers who need parking downtown. The free lots are being filled up by workers at the various companies located there, including on the side streets. The other case is people patronizing the restaurants mostly outside of work hours, e.g. at night. It should be called Restaurant Row rather than downtown. The rents for the restaurants are already higher than many alternate locations which do include parking for diners.

The SHOPPING has already moved elsewhere. The Grant Plaza center with the Nob Hill, 99 Ranch and City Sports gym is very very busy and there is plenty of parking free available there. They have enough that they fence some off and do not use it. Or, just go to Walmart or Target. Free parking! Frankly, most people are already doing this, if they don't order from Amazon. That's what's led downtown into becoming an office park with a restaurant row.

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