Permit

In San Jose’s Alum Rock area, most streets are so packed with cars at night that residents resort to parking in front of driveways or placing cones and garbage cans along the curb to reserve spaces for family members and friends.

Many of the cars belong to multigenerational households, but some residents worry that others are abandoning or storing them in the neighborhoods for long periods of time.

To restrict the number of cars fighting for limited street parking spots, residents and community leaders have been urging the city to expand its parking permit program into more neighborhoods.

The program consists of 22 zones where residents typically pay $40 every two years for a permit to park in front of their homes during restricted, mainly overnight hours.

Having seen how well the permit program works elsewhere, residents in East San Jose and the downtown area want in.

But according to Laura Wells, assistant director of the city’s department of transportation, that’s just not in the cards at this time because the money isn’t there.

“We currently don’t have resources to work with neighborhoods to establish new zones,” she said in an interview.

The program was rolled out in the 1970s primarily in neighborhoods that attract a lot of cars, such as those around the San Jose State University campus, the SAP Center and the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.

After pausing the program at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, city officials are beginning to phase it back and enforce restricted parking, while also moving the system online rather than using physical stickers or hanger permits.

Establishing new zones is costly, Wells said, noting that transportation staff must hold community meetings, conduct studies of parking situations and issues, define the permitted zones and petition the neighborhood to ensure that more than half of the households want to buy into the program. If the answer is yes, city workers must install signs and residents must apply for and purchase permits.

Parking control officers then cite cars parked in those zones at the wrong time without permits.

Wells said the city stopped funding new zones in 2010, although seven years later the City Council allocated more than $500,000 to launch six new permit zones, raising the total to 22.

Then the funds ran dry again.

Rolando Bonilla, a city planning commissioner and East San Jose resident, recently asked city leaders to pilot a new free permit program focused solely on East San Jose neighborhoods where parking is especially limited and battles to obtain a coveted spot can often get heated.

“It just comes down to priorities,” he said. “If the city determines this is a top priority, which it is, then they will come up with the funding.

“Just saying that we don’t have the funding so we’re not going to talk about it… that’s not what I expect from the tenth largest city in the country.”

A cone and garbage cans are used to block off a parking space on Lyndale Avenue in East San Jose on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. 

Alfonso Rodriguez, an Alum Rock resident, says he often has to park on his front lawn because the alternative is parking nearly 10 minutes away and lugging all of his belongings back to his house. Someone recently called the police on him after he wrote a note on the window of a car parked in front of his house for four days, asking the person to move the vehicle.

“Parking here is just really messed up,” he said. “I think everyone should be entitled to one spot in front of their house.”

The push for creating more parking permit zones comes as San Jose officials are considering a dramatic policy shift that would eliminate requirements for minimum parking across the city. If that policy is adopted, developers of new residential and commercial projects could decide how many parking spaces they want to provide on-site.

Resident Bill Souders is worried about how that policy change could affect those living in the downtown core who, like him, need a car because public transit improvements such as the BART extension are still a decade away from completion. Souders said he drives more than a mile a day to find street parking.

For that reason, he recently submitted a proposal for a parking permit program that would allow those living in the urban core to park in metered street spots near their homes or apartment buildings without paying the required fees.

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Transportation officials quickly shot down his proposal.

“The metered spaces downtown are intended for short-term parking to provide opportunities for visitors to the downtown,” Wells said. “And if we were to study the parking impacts of downtown, it wouldn’t qualify for the program.”

Souders feels the city gave his idea short shrift.

“If we had transit, if we had downtown amenities, if we could walk to everything we needed, this wouldn’t be an argument,” he said. “But we are a big, sprawling suburban city, and those that are being penalized the most are those who live in the downtown.”

Source : https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2021/10/18/why-san-joses-parking-permit-program-may-not-come-to-your-neighborhood/?preview_id=8124527

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