In anticipation of events at the new Levi's Stadium starting in August, on Tuesday City Council members approved a plan to charge drivers to park beyond normal time limits in downtown parking lots, and to ticket drivers who park on nearby residential streets without a permit.
It is estimated that 500 to 600 drivers will park in Mountain View and take light rail to the 49ers' new stadium in Santa Clara, since the VTA promises to run a large number of express light rail trains to events and stadium parking will be limited and expensive. There are now 17 events scheduled through April 2015 on weekends and weeknights.
Expected parking demands have also forced the city's huge farmers market to move to a new parking lot behind City Hall on game days.
Council members voted 6-1 in favor of the one-year pilot program, which institutes a three-hour time limit during event days for parking in the neighborhoods surrounding the train station, including the Jackson Street and Willowgate Street neighborhoods north of the expressway, and downtown Mountain View out to Shoreline Boulevard, Calderon Avenue and El Camino Real. Households in those areas will each be given two free permits allowing them to park as long as they like on residential streets in the area, and more may be available with proof of residency and a good reason, city staff said.
Stadium-goers and anyone else wishing to park downtown beyond the common two-hour parking lot time limits would need to pay an attendant for a permit or possibly buy one online. Stadium-goers are expected to have to pay $10, unless Caltrain raises its parking fees, which would trigger the city to match the Caltrain rate.
Most downtown residents supported the program but a few were opposed to having to get permits to park in front of their own homes.
"My mother is 94 years old and caregivers come and go," said one resident. "Birthday parties, anniversary parties, any family gathering, we'd have to plan so far in advance. Why should we suffer?"
Council members said residents might suffer even more with stadium attendees parking in front of their homes.
Council member Mike Kasperzak defended the pilot program as a way to protect downtown residents. The council had proposed it only two weeks earlier, causing city staff to scramble to put it together. Some residents said they prefer the city manager's previously proposed "wait and see" approach, reserving several downtown lots for unlimited parking, in case it turned out that there wouldn't be much demand for downtown parking. Resident Steve Sommerstein said it was "a slide towards paid parking for everyone," which Kasperzak has advocated for the downtown area in the past.
Member John Inks opposed the one-year pilot program after criticizing its impacts on the city budget. City staff said in order for the program to pay for itself, it would require charging a $25 parking fee. Revenue generated by 500 cars at $10 a car would be $50,000, though some downtown garage revenue has to be shared with other local government agencies in a deal created by the ending of the downtown revitalization authority, a special tax district. Costs for the $85,000 program will be split between downtown parking district revenues and general fund reserves. That includes the cost of signs and paying attendants to collect fees at downtown parking lots.