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Letter To Palo Alto (CA) City Council About Problems With Downtown Parking Structure Management

Letter To Palo Alto (CA) City Council About Problems With Downtown Parking Structure Management

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Published by wmartin46
The Downtown Parking Structures in Palo Alto (CA) are not utilized to their capacity, while street parking in the surrounding residential neighborhoods is at full capacity. This letter looks at some possible solutions to this problem, based on making the Parking Structures free for all to use, rather than continuing the current permitting scheme.
The Downtown Parking Structures in Palo Alto (CA) are not utilized to their capacity, while street parking in the surrounding residential neighborhoods is at full capacity. This letter looks at some possible solutions to this problem, based on making the Parking Structures free for all to use, rather than continuing the current permitting scheme.

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Published by: wmartin46 on Jun 07, 2012
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11/01/2012

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Palo Alto City CouncilCity of Palo AltoPalo Alto, CA 94301Cc: James Keene
Subject: True Costs of Downtown Parking, Downtown ParkingStructure Management and Linkages to DowntownResidential Parking Problems
Elected Council Members:Diana Diamond’s recent article (Daily News, 05.31.12), about parking in downtown PaloAlto, makes the point that the City is currently spending $1.1 million a year maintainingthese structures--which seems like an awful lot of money. What is the public, or theDowntown Business Community, getting for this expenditure? Has anyone ever auditedthe management of this “project” to understand where all of this money is going? And isthere a linkage between the seemingly high level of expenditures and the high use of Downtown North/South streets by motorists, when the use factors of the parking structuresis not even remotely close to maximum capacity?
Management of Parking Structures
The city has shown such lackadaisical management of the structures so that neither theCity, nor the public, nor the merchants paying for these structures, seem to have theslightest idea how effectively they are being used. The most recent “study” provided bythe Planning Department’s Traffic Division seemed to be more than inadequate, andshowed little evidence of being able to indentify the latent demand for parking in thedowntown area—which is a very necessary variable in this equation.Having walked to the structures myself, and posted the inspection on Youtube-
Walk-Thru of Downtown Parking Structure, Palo Alto (CA):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pD-ms1hPU2I&list=UUY5utZOB4vVqRTLpGGxLuOQ&index=6&feature=plpp_videoit is clear that the maintenance of these garages hardly reflects $1+ million a year inexpenditures. It is not difficult to find lighting elements out-of-service, graffiti on thewalls, guide-lines in need of repainting, and I’m told the bathrooms are a complete mess.So -- -- where's all that money going?
Question
--How hard would it be to have someone walk these structures, say, once amonth, with a checklist of items to inspect--looking for lights that are out, fireextinguishers that have been stolen, and other deficiencies that need attention, andsupposedly have been paid for by the people purchasing the parking permits?
 
Answer
-- it's not that hard at all. That is--If there were professional management incharge of the Parking Structures.
30-Year Cost of Downtown Parking Structures.
The parking structures were supposed to be in the $25M-$30M to build. With bondfinancing to be considered, another $20M-$30M outlay beings the total for the structures toabout 60 million (over roughly 30 years). What seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle isthe yearly expenditures for “maintenance”, which at this $1.1M, comes to another $52M.Depending on the actual cost of the bonds, the structures will end up costing someone inthe order of $65M-$70M.
Total 30-Year Cost Of A SingleDowntown Palo Alto ParkingStructure (Estimated)ExpenseExpenditure
Construction$25,000,000Financing$25,000,00030-Year Maintenance$17,444,319
Total:
$67,444,319If there were three of these structures in Downtown Palo Alto, this means that someone(Business Owners, Taxpayers, etc.) will be paying upwards of $200M (over 30 years), to provide this off-street parking for people working, or doing business, in Downtown PaloAlto.
 
30-Year Cost For Three Parking Structures:Using the approximate costs for one Downtown ParkingStructure, the costs of three structures is: ~$200M.
When all of thecosts are considered, the per-stall costs for Structure Parking is significantly higher than previously suggested by City Staff. Given these high costs, and questionable use/results— something different in the management of these parking structures is definitely called for.
Unused Parking Structure Capacity Linked To High Downtown Street Parking
Diamond suggests making these structures free for everyone’s use would decrease thedemand for on-street parking in the Downtown area. That’s probably true, if the peoplecurrently parking on the street could be convinced to use the parking structures, and therewas sufficient unutilized capacity to handle this demand. Unfortunately there are real costsassociated with running these facilities—which must be paid by someone. Certainly itmakes sense to expect people using these structures to pay for their upkeep.
Instrumentation Of Parking Structures To Monitor Actual Use
There is currently no real-time monitoring of the Parking Structures, so that no one reallyknows what their use factors are, or how many empty spots there are at any given moment.This problem is easily solved by instrumenting the Structures with real-time vehiclecounting equipment, and making that information available to City Staff and the public.The following are a few of the key items that would be needed for instrumenting theParking Structures, as well as the data that would be produced from such instrumentation:
Vehicle RFID Tags
Vehicle Counting Equipment
Vehicle Counts per Structure
Vehicle Counts per Floor 
Server-based Software To Collect/Monitor Parking Data
Smartphone App Displaying Structure/Available Space
Use Reports Generated For City Staff On-line Parking App:https://www.parking-online.com/parkme-customerWeb/?
 

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