Letter to Council from OMVNA Parking Subcommittee (May 2021)

The OMVNA Parking Subcommittee met to discuss the City Council May 11, 2021, Agenda Item 3.1 “Downtown Parking Strategy” on Saturday, May 8, and then sent the following letter to the council.

Honorable Mayor Kamei, Vice Mayor Ramirez, and Members of the City Council,

The OMVNA Parking Subcommittee thanks you for the opportunity to comment on item 3.1, “Downtown Parking Strategy”.

We first thank the city staff and consultant for reaching out to us as stakeholders and including the feedback we gave them in the staff report.

In particular, we appreciate their taking notice of our ongoing issues with spillover parking in our neighborhood, which has over the years been primarily been due to office employees parking their cars on our residential streets. This happens for a variety of reasons including:

(1) a preference of employees for parking in open, daylight-illuminated, un-cramped areas,

(2) a lack of on-site parking provided by their employer,

(3) dropping their cars in Mountain View, sometimes overnight, while they ride public transit to and from their work.

While the problem has lessened during COVID, we expect it to return to the same or higher levels as employees return to work in the offices. This is not only a problem for residents of Mountain View, but also for the operators of restaurant and retail businesses, who are left with inadequate parking for their customers.

We also thank staff and the consultant for noting our continued dissatisfaction with the current residential parking permit program (RPPP), which due to its extremely complicated qualification system has resulted in the creation of no RPP zones since its inception many years ago.

We generally support the approach taken in this document and ask the council to move forward with it.  In particular, we are very interested in the suggestion of “expanding the RPPP program with no permit fees for the residential areas in the downtown”.  As a guiding principle, we believe that the lessening of parking requirements for businesses will only work if conscious and definite steps are taken to ensure that employees, who will not have a parking space as a result of the reduced requirements, are compelled to find another method to get to their place of employment.

Beyond that we have the following comments and suggestions on items in the staff report:

  1. Since 60% of downtown parking is in private garages, we would be interested in exploring partnerships between the city and the owners of the private garages to share parking spaces.  In particular, to provide evening parking spaces for visitors to the downtown when employees are no longer at work.
  2. We support guidelines on when in-lieu fees should be paid rather than building parking. We recommend that in-lieu fees match the actual cost of building parking.
  3. We support programs that discourage employees from arriving early in the morning and parking premium parking spaces all day without charge.
  4. We request some sort of management of parking in the evening hours.  There is none now, and evening hours, particularly Friday evening, can be peak hours for restaurant customers.  
  5. We would like staff and the consultant to quantify how much certain programs like transit subsidies have helped in other cities.  Actual metrics are the key to knowing the extent to which this can be a viable solution.
  6. We caution against using one-time in-lieu parking fees to support on-going programs like TDM. Ongoing programs need to be funded by ongoing fees, or what do you do when the money runs out?

Thank you for your consideration of our views and drawing us into the dialogue on this matter of key importance to our neighborhood.

Robert Cox, Jamil Shaikh, Annette Nielsen, Mary Hodder, Roberto Miller

The Old Mountain View Residential Parking Subcommittee

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