Price of Palo Alto parking permits shoots up 57%

An expired parking permit for downtown Palo Alto. Post photo.
An expired parking permit for downtown Palo Alto. Post photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

The cost of an employee parking permit in downtown Palo Alto has shot up from $466 per year to $730.

The increase was approved on July 1, but employees whose six-month per- mits are set to expire March 31 are likely just now noticing the 57% fee hike.

Downtown residents’ first parking permit is still free. After that, it’s $100 per year for each permit. Residents are allowed to have up to four parking permits. A one-day permit for workers and residents costs $25.

Fewer employees are buying the permits. The city has counted a 22% decrease in sales over the last year.

The city sold 1,335 employee permits for the September 2016 sales period. For the April 1 sales period, the city sold 1,155, and in the most recent period, which began on Sept. 1, the city sold 1,090.

The city also offers inexpensive parking permits for low-income workers. Of the 1,090 permits sold in the most recent sales period, 38% were the low-income permits, which cost $100 per year.

At tonight’s (Feb. 26) City Council meeting, the council may consider reducing the number of employee parking permits available, or establish an annual reduction in available permits without revoking them from existing permit-holders.

The city considers the downtown residential permit parking program a success so far.

A November parking study showed that downtown parking spaces were between 21% and 60% full. On average, about 271 employees are parking with permits downtown.

The program was established as a pilot in 2016 with the goal of reducing the impact of spillover parking in residential neighborhoods. It was made permanent in April.

City transportation planners say the program has been successful at cutting back on and better distributing worker parking in the neighborhoods. Some street segments are still impacted by spillover parking from two-hour parkers who don’t hold permits, according to the city.

Residents can start buying permits for the next enforcement period starting March 5. Low-income workers can buy them from March 5 to March 11, and all workers can buy them starting March 12.
Enforcement between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. begins April 2.


  1. The downtown workers aren’t dumb. They’re parking for free and moving their cars every two or three hours, or they’re parking further away from downtown and using a bike or scooter to get between their car and work. Higher permit fees is pure greed. Who gets this money? I hear it isn’t the city, but some non-profit somebody set up, probably with big salaries and perks.

  2. Longterm, this destroys the retail and restaurant industry downtown. Menlo Park got very restrictive on parking, and its downtown has suffered for years. Palo Alto’s downtown won’t die next week or next year, but in 5 years, it will be greatly diminished.

  3. On one hand the city says it wants to preserve retail with rules requiring retail on the ground floor. On the other hand, they make parking more expensive and difficult for retail workers. The counsel seems confused to put it kindly.

  4. That’s a pretty sorry example of a permit sticker you picked. How about something that portrays the program better? The program has been a success and a picture like that makes it seem like a failure.

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