Redwood City parking and transportation policy - lessons for Palo Alto

On Monday Nov 3, Redwood City’s City Council heard a staff update with the latest statistics and proposed changes to the city’s parking and transportation programs.   There are several elements that might be relevant for Palo Alto as the city moves forward with its parking and transportation strategies.


  • Make surplus parking available to the public.  Redwood City staff investigated an East Bay business which specializes in working with private companies to make surplus parking available to the public. The company negotiates a deal, and implements gates, meters, or valet parking to make the extra spaces available to the public, following the city's policies for pricing, hours etc.   The revenue from permits, meters, or fines goes to the property owner, which is the financial incentive to participate.  The city avoids the high cost of building new supply.  
  • Recover excess parking capacity stranded in private lots for new developments. To do this, the city could require commercial leases to have parking “unbundled”, setting a price for the parking, allowing tenants to use what they need, and making it easier to add unused spaces back to the public pool.
  • Parking cashout benefits - Unbundled commercial parking also allows employers to offer cash benefits for employees who don’t take a parking space - a proven effective program to reduce driving rates. Parking cashout is required under California law for businesses with more than 50 employees that lease parking. The state doesn’t enforce the law, but cities are allowed to.
  • Adjusted parking pricing - so that the most popular areas in RWC have the highest prices. This change is successfully encouraging greater turnover in busy areas, which helps local businesses, and is resulting in greater utilization of further away streets and structures.
  • Iterative approach - collecting data and continuing to refine policies and programs based on data.
  • Metered parking - Redwood City downtown is thriving with metered parking, compared with free parking scenarios in downtown Menlo Park and San Carlos.
  • Developing TDM programs- Redwood City is taking the first steps toward joining the growing group of Peninsula cities with city TDM programs, starting an employee transportation survey to gather data regarding additional opportunities to reduce vehicle trips and parking demand.
  • Create an attractive environment for startups: Redwood City Council members acknowledge and praise the transportation preferences of the startups that are flocking downtown - Council Member Aguirre praised the walls full of bikes at startups she recently visited, and she urged greater bike facilities on shuttles and streets.  
  • RWC Parking Meter


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