The Palo Alto City Council has decided to toss its sustainability plans in the trash by moving ahead with proposals to construct two new multi-story car parking garages at a cost of nearly $100,000 per parking space instead of investing in housing or trip reduction programs. The city already maintains a prodigious car parking supply – six parking garages and five surface parking lots downtown, and two parking garages and seven surface parking lots in the California Avenue business district. But the Palo Alto City Council members still want to lavish even greater subsidies on storing motor vehicles in the heart of what are supposed to be pedestrian-friendly urban areas.
Instead of constructing housing on the city’s 86-space surface parking lot at Waverley Street and Hamilton Avenue, the City Council has opted for a six-story, 351-space parking garage projected to cost $22.5 million. Along Sherman Avenue (one block from California Avenue) from Birch Street to Park Boulevard, they’ve chosen a six-story, 636-space parking garage to replace an existing 310-space surface parking lot for an estimated $34.8 million. In both cases, the City Council chose the largest parking structures of several options analyzed by city planners, insisting that a maximum number of additional spaces is “needed” (and that housing is apparently not needed). Both sites are located just a few blocks from a Caltrain station and VTA’s frequent El Camino Real bus lines, and both are located in the center of a high-quality city-wide bicycling network.
The total taxpayer’s bill comes out to $57.3 million for 579 additional car parking spaces in both garages, or $99,000 per car parking space. Eager to damage the city’s downtown business districts with even more car traffic and place people walking and bicycling in greater danger, Palo Alto hopes to begin building the garages next year and finish them by 2021. Drill, baby, drill.