News


Editorial: City taking holistic approach to downtown parking problem

 

Drive into downtown Pleasanton most Thursday and Friday nights or on Saturday and search for a parking space. Often it means parking a block away from your destination.

Merchants and restaurant owners complained to the City Council last week that they're losing business because shoppers and diners find that distance is just too far. Property owners, hearing complaints from their business tenants, complained that drivers are parking their cars in the many small merchant-assigned private parking areas behind those stores.

It's a dilemma that's faced downtown businesses, mostly those on Main Street, for years. On those busy nights, particularly in the spring and summer when the weather is good, it's hard to find a parking spot. And it's getting worse in this period of economic expansion with new shops, coffee houses and restaurants opening on south and north Main and in between where off-street parking had been readily available.

Acknowledging the growing problem, the council created an Implementation Plan to consider short- and long-term strategies that could include a downtown parking structure and completion of the $7.5 million railroad corridor that the city purchased in 2008 from Alameda County with then-available in-lieu parking funds and an appropriation from the city's General Fund.

Only about two-thirds of that right-of-way, located between Main and First streets, is fully improved. Even so, except for farmers market and downtown events, the corridor lots are seldom full. Space for motorists headed to restaurants and stores on Main Street is also available most times in the Firehouse Arts Center lot, just a block away.

Other options are available. Last year, parking limits on Main and some side streets were increased from two to three hours. City police, who know how to enforce the rules, could be more aggressive in ticketing scofflaws. But is that what downtown businesses want? Someone who parks to shop and then meets friends in a nearby restaurant for lunch and receives a parking ticket may choose another city the next time.

Motorists who park illegally in a store's private lot could be towed away at the car owner's expense. Property and business owners, who would face liabilities if there were damages, aren't doing that.

Even with the council agreeing to quick-start a work plan to improve downtown parking, the crowd of merchants, property owners and representatives of the Pleasanton Downtown Association left the meeting frustrated. They want a faster response than the Implementation Plan will provide, when its first draft is completed next spring. Other cities have parking structures that are highly visible to motorists searching for a space, and they want one built here, too.

Parking garages are expensive and so are off-street lots, as the cost of the railroad corridor showed. Everyone's priority should be to develop a clear vision about what's needed so that taxpayers' money used to provide more parking will be used efficiently.

With business "sizzling," as the PDA likes to say, a variety of parking solutions are no doubt needed over the long-term. The Implementation Plan's holistic approach to encompass the whole problem moving forward will make that call.

Pleasanton Weekly editorial staff

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Comments

22 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Oct 15, 2015 at 7:59 am

I've never had to walk more than a block or so. I think parking downtown is fine.


9 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Oct 15, 2015 at 8:27 am

"Drive into downtown Pleasanton most Thursday and Friday nights or on Saturday and search for a parking space. Often it means parking a block away from your destination."

I've never had to walk more than a block or two away from my destination, either, although I tend to avoid weekend nights since the restaurants themselves get pretty crowded. And on the rare occasions that I have to walk further, so what? It's not like we have to struggle through snowdrifts, snowstorms, or Midwestern mega-thunderstorms to walk to our destination. It's a pleasant walk through a nice downtown with normally clear or partly cloudy skies overhead.

I'm glad that the city is forward-looking enough to make plans to ensure that there continues to be ample parking going into the future, but I don't think that there is too much of a downtown parking problem right now.


11 people like this
Posted by Bob12
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 15, 2015 at 8:59 am

For the most part downtown parking is just fine - and one should not expect there to be available parking spots in front of their favorite eatery during busy times - those who cannot walk should be dropped off and the able bodied person walk the block after parking. - - But what ever remedies get under taken, avoid meters like the plague. We do not visit San Francisco, Monterey Bay, or Sacramento anymore because of their absurd parking meter issues.


36 people like this
Posted by zenbodhi
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 15, 2015 at 8:59 am

Really?! We are complaining about walking a block to our destination?! No wonder America is getting fat!


23 people like this
Posted by Wasting money?
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 9:06 am

i just finished reading the paper on how Pleasanton is conducting ANOTHER survey on parking in downtown Pleasanton to the tune of $100,000. The second one in TWO years??? Do we really have that much money to waste. This city LOVES surveys and consultants. Between the school district and city we sure waste a lot of money to get information we already know. Why do we need another survey? Did we get our money back for the one in 2013 since apparently it didn't tell us anything. I too have not had any problem parking downtown even on a Friday night. Please stop wasting our money on these frivolous consultants.


7 people like this
Posted by Heather
a resident of Danbury Park
on Oct 15, 2015 at 9:09 am

Let's talk about vision here. Pleasanton has this wonderful quality because it has been well planned out for decades. We benefit now from the beauty and shade of the trees lining Main Street because someone had vision decades ago. I remember when they were little sapplings and looked forward to the 20 years ahead when they would make our downtown look like it does now. We are building like crazy and increasing the population with many new multifamily dwellings and higher density complexes. The only way we will continue to maintain our beautiful downtown is to ANTICIPATE and invest NOW into our future. Parking is a bit of a hassle now. And I have had to walk several blocks numerous times but at the rate Pleasanton is growing, we need to build a parking structure(s)NOW because we will need them by the time the planning, approval and construction is completed. We want an ease about our downtown not a frustration that drives people away.


19 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2015 at 9:11 am

I find it interesting that having to walk a block or maybe 3 is a problem. While I agree that downtown is often packed & can use more parking, it seems like that is a good thing. I have noticed when I have difficulty parking the restaurants are also packed, which must mean they are making money. Downtown Livermore doesn't have a lot of parking right in front of the restaurants and shops. Yes people walk a bit from the parking garage. I don't hear a lot of complaints. Walnut Creek also has parking issues and often I have to walk 3 or more blocks to my destination. Parking at outlet mall is horrible, yet it's packed all the time. It seems to me that maybe the merchants may not be providing items that the masses are interested in buying.

Anyway I for one like to see downtown so busy & walking a block or more should no be a problem.


8 people like this
Posted by nita_d
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Oct 15, 2015 at 9:55 am

Why is walking a block or two a problem??? Maybe the walking drives economic traffic to businesses that would have otherwise missed out on a sale?


4 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2015 at 10:05 am

Will the holistic approach lead to virtual parking!!?


6 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Oct 15, 2015 at 10:44 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Certainly walking a few blocks isn't much of an issue and for most of the year. It is possible it is an issue for the neighborhoods off Main St. There are several times a year--Good Guys, the fair--when residents can't park on their own block and those of us trying to go to a restaurant can't get a spot either.


3 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 15, 2015 at 10:45 am

Why not focus that money and energy on "creating" a parking problem to address? Our downtown needs a holistic approach to its future. I love our city, but we are being surpassed by neighboring areas in their investments into their downtown attractions. I'm not asking to duplicate their offerings, but what is the vision of a vibrate downtown Pleasanton experience? Morning, Afternoon, and Night?


15 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Oct 15, 2015 at 10:48 am

We use Livermore's parking structure and enjoy walking around town. People may be complaining about walking to their destination in Pleasanton only because they've been hunting for a parking space when they could have been enjoying the area. Any downtown area can only benefit from more foot traffic. Do one better than Livermore. Put in a garage under the parks at First st., right in the middle of town.


11 people like this
Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2015 at 10:56 am

It's not about walking a block. It's about attracting consumers and making Pleasanton an easy, enjoyable place to spend the day. Want to go shopping? We all head to Walnut Creek. Want to go out at night? We all head to Livermore. Want to get aggravated driving around looking for parking to go to yet another boring restaurant or non-descript shop? Yep, that's Pleasanton.


1 person likes this
Posted by Julie
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 15, 2015 at 1:05 pm

If people are having trouble walking a block or two perhaps they have mobility problems.

Therefore, I have now solved the parking problem: more handicapped spaces.

You can make that 100K check out to me. You're welcome.


8 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 15, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Property owners who have and maintain parking lots get frustrated when cars park on their lots only to have the employee or customer visit a building that does not supply its own parking. This comes to a head every Thursday night on the north end of town, and now it has come up again due to the building that replaced Pastime Pool Hall. The Pastime site more than tripled its square footage, yet was not required to provide any parking nor pay fees to help in the future. The cars are going to go somewhere! When the City Council approves a development, to quote the late Ben Tarver, "We got one shot at 'em." To approve that building and sluff the parking requirement onto the rest of the Downtown was wrong...


3 people like this
Posted by PleasantonParent
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 15, 2015 at 1:22 pm

I've never had a problem finding a reasonable spot near Main St for dinner, etc...Only during major events like First Wednesday. And even then, I have found spots pretty close. However, whenever I venture over to Livermore, it's always a problem. Even in the middle of a weekday. I think Pleasanton is doing fine compared to that mess. Lots of great places to visit in Livermore, but the parking and traffic situation often keeps me home in Pleasanton instead! :)


Like this comment
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2015 at 1:39 pm

So the city approves new businesses without adequate parking spaces, and those businesses with their own spaces are hesitant to have cars towed. Seems like a problem that no one wants to solve.

I am not a big fan of parking garages in downtown areas as those tend to become hangouts for vagrants due to the attractiveness of providing shelters for the homeless, and attract crime after dark. Seems like the most logical solution is either

(1)for the businesses who do bother to provide spaces to put pressure on the council to require a parking plan for future developments, or

(2)have a city owned, patrolled and operated off site lot that the city is responsible for safety, with shuttle to downtown, that is paid for by the merchants who don't provide parking.


Like this comment
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 15, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Build a parking garage and we need to build schools? Let's walk to downtown and to schools!


Like this comment
Posted by Do Your Part to Conserve Parking Spaces
a resident of Beratlis Place
on Oct 15, 2015 at 5:34 pm

For years Pleasanton has worked hard to avoid increasing infrastructure, including downtown parking spaces and efficient boulevards. Developers of new structures built downtown were allowed to pay an "in lieu" fee and not add the needed parking spaces. New housing developments were allowed to simply add a signal light in lieu of paying for additional roadways.

When the tavern on Main and Neal(?) was torn down, the existing parking was replaced with a new building that covered the footprint of the tavern AND its parking.

We all need to do our part to conserve parking spaces by reducing our use of parking spaces 25%. Also, only use parking spaces a maximum of twice per week. Avoid parking if you do not have a specific shopping goal, just like avoiding runoff from your sprinklers into the street that does plants no good. The city can also follow the water infrastructure planning model by imposing financial penalties of individuals that violate these rules.

We all need to do apart to reduce the use of our precious parking resources.


Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2015 at 5:43 pm

There's plenty of parking downtown, and there will be for the foreseeable future. This is not a problem.


10 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 15, 2015 at 6:45 pm

Plenty of parking downtown, it's not going to hurt anybody to walk a block or two, a little exercise is good for all of us. I'd rather walk our downtown at night before walking around Livermore at night on those dark side streets, and those of you loving walnut creek, thanks, you leave us more parking on our streets of Pleasanton.


4 people like this
Posted by Spudly
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Oct 16, 2015 at 3:29 pm

The problem (I am not sure I even believe this) is spending $200K over two years to evaluate this "problem." There is no problem, parking and traffic downtown do not compare to other cities (Palo Alto or Sunnyvale) and it would be nice to see time and money focused elsewhere.


2 people like this
Posted by Stella
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 16, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Lets fix the problem for people that live downtown that most the time are afraid to leave their houses since we will lose our on street parking.


3 people like this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 16, 2015 at 5:25 pm

I live downtown and am not afraid to leave my house. The parking in the street does not belong to me.


Like this comment
Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Oct 17, 2015 at 8:39 am

mooseturd is a registered user.

To all you commenting that "walking a few blocks doesn't hurt anyone", it DOES hurt me. I have a handicap that makes a few blocks out of my reach. So, yes I think downtown has a parking problem. I've gone to the same main street address for dental care for 52 years. This has become impossible for me.


9 people like this
Posted by Julie
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 17, 2015 at 11:36 am

@mooseturd- thank you for reinforcing my point from a few days ago. What we need then is not more parking but more handicapped parking.


Like this comment
Posted by Potts
a resident of Rosewood
on Oct 17, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Am I the only one who thought we should be able to get quite a few parking spaces for $100,000?

"Studies" make me suspicious that we're just using the money that would solve the problem to feather the nest of someone with connections. Lay some asphalt or put up the parking structure or both. It wouldn't take much to make a big difference.

The real parking problem is at BART, with spaces meant for people driving minis rather than real cars or, as is so common here, SUVs, vans, and huge trucks. Give them the money to re-stripe their lot, stop charging, and stop overpaying for everything so they have enough left for a garage.


4 people like this
Posted by oldtimer
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Oct 19, 2015 at 9:33 pm

I go to downtown Livermore much more than downtown Pleasanton when we go out to eat. If I am luck I get a parking space within a block of my destination but usually is two or more blocks. I walk much further when going to Livermore than Pleasanton but I enjoy downtown Livermore with the liveliness, and the mixed demographics of those who frequent downtown.

We do not have a parking problem, especially with the old railroad corridor, plus parking at the firehouse art center. Instead of spending $100K on a study, maybe just improve the railroad corridor with real paving and space markers. Right now a lot of people take up the equivalent of 1.5 spaces, reducing the amount of parking available. We would gain more parking just by marking the area. Maybe improve the railroad corridor to make it more attractive by better lighting, artwork and other decorations to give it more of an old-town feeling than a dirt lot. Make people want to park there instead of discouraging people with what looks like a dirt "overflow parking area".


1 person likes this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 21, 2015 at 7:18 am

Agreed, there is no parking problem downtown. I've been here 20 years and go downtown once a month or so to eat, and I've never had to park more than a block or two away. Sometimes I get lucky and find a spot right on Main St in front of the place I'm going to.

The only parking problem in town that I can think of is the Trader Joes parking lot. There may be other problem locations I'm not aware of but in my travels around town parking has not been an issue.


1 person likes this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 21, 2015 at 2:04 pm

I agree with "Ed" about trader joes parking, worst lot in Pleasanton, it's like the demolition derby happening there every day, it's my only reason for going to livermore for specialty items. Wake up T.J's, time to relocate your Pleasanton store and maybe double the square footage.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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