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Evergreen parking program instated

Palo Alto City Council recently voted to establish a new permit program that cuts down the number of employees parking around California Avenue. This new program, which will take effect in April, is designed to free up parking spaces for residents of Evergreen Park and Mayfield. It will make the permits available to every household in the neighborhood.

The new permit program is largely modeled after the one launched in downtown Palo Alto in 2015 in answer to complaints from Professorville, Downtown North and other contiguous neighborhoods affected by the lack of parking space guaranteed to them.

Similarly, the California Avenue initiative began when residents of Evergreen Park became concerned about the effects of commercial growth.

The difference between the downtown and California Avenue programs lies in the number of permits given out. Downtown’s program began with 2,000 employee units with a 10 percent decrease of permits sold to workers every year. Meanwhile, the pilot system at Evergreen Park will give out 250 employee permits with priority going to employees who are on the waiting list for a garage permit.

Each household in the Evergreen Park area will receive one permit, with the option to buy up to four more for $50 each. The employee annual permit is set to cost $149, though low-income workers would get a discount of $50.

Residents who lobbied for a permit program argued that California Avenue’s increased the parking density on nearby streets, while diminishing the residents’ sense of community.

Initially, residents petitioned last year for a program similar to the one in College Terrace, which gives permits only to residents.

Dozens of residents attended the council meeting and they remained  there until nearly midnight for the vote.

Although the Council approved the motion with a vote of 8-0, and it is not exactly certain what the residents asked for, they were able to come to a compromise.

Among the crowd of people at the City Council meeting were several dentists, including Reza Riahi, a Palo Alto endodontist. Many of these dentists have offices in the California Avenue area.

They argued that imposing permits would make it difficult for them to hire staff and accommodate customers.

There was further discussion and other offered proposals, including to offer special permits for health care providers.

Nonetheless, the ultimate decision was to offer priority parking permits to residents living in the surrounding area.

“The neighborhood really has been impacted and it has taken too long,” said former mayor Greg Scharff. “I think it’s really important that we focus on quality of life in the neighborhood.”

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