San Jose, CA, gets “City By the Bay” Nomination


San Jose, CA, gets “City By the Bay” Nomination

The city of San Jose, California, is our next nominee for the "City by the Bay" award for poor decisions in parking regulations and general parking concerns.

It goes like this. The city hired a consultant to recommend solutions to its downtown parking problems, since parking is certainly the reason why downtown is having economic problems.It has nothing to do with the internet bubble bursting, the fact that downtown isn’t really that attractive, or the fact that a really attractive area nearby is booming. Read about it here.

So the recommendation was to require developers to provide more parking when they build new buildings, and to raise parking charges.  So far so good…or is it.  Lets see, we are going to attract more development by making the developer pay more to develop the land, even if he or she feels that additional parking is unnecessary for the development. Now that makes sense.

Second, is the problem of fees. Normally I’m an advocate of raising parking fees across the board. However, I also want to see the money go into cleaning up the neighborhoods from which it came.  The article acknowledges that the downtown area is "gritty". Why not use the money raised by the parking increase to remove some of the "grit?"

The merchants are up in arms over the fee increase, and rightly so. The money is being used to keep the parking system afloat, not to aid the struggling local neighborhoods.  A single member of the downtown parking board seems to have some guts, or at least is listening to hers.

She says that she feels that the money raised by the parking fees is being shunted off to pay other city expenses.  She can’t prove it, she says, but she does have that "gut feel." Keep listening to your gut, madam board member, you are probably right.

Just up the road in Redwood City,  they have instituted Don Shoup’s plan for parking in the downtown area. We’ll get a report on it at PIE in August. In the mean time, they are setting rates based on usage, putting the money to good use in redevelopment, and letting the market decide on the number of parking spaces needed, not mandating them and then seeing acres of parking spaces go unused.

I heard a member of the San Jose city council talk about parking policy at a seminar earlier this year. Her solution was to tell people to use the "student method" of parking she used when she went to San Jose State.  Learn where all the free spaces are, seek them out, and park there.  My thoughts were echoed by another wag present. "She hasn’t learned a thing about parking policy since she left school, what 25 years ago."  Yep.

I think San Jose deserves the next nomination. By the way, the "City by the Bay" award is named after the famous City on the Golden Gate that arguably has some of the more egregious parking issues on the planet and seems hell bent on making them worse. The last thing they did was raise off street parking fees which of course tended to drive parkers on street,  just where they have no extra space. 


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. I thing people might have start recognizing that downtown garage which used to be free late night now charges 5 dollar now. The reason that the City give is that because of the increase in drinking, and vandalism in the garage. I dont know whether that its true or not…it might be. but i have no clue how charging more is going to stop this crime, all I see this going to do is hurt more local business, especially the ones that runs club and bars, and other entertainment business…

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