Up for consideration at this past Tuesday’s Milpitas City Council meeting: A trial parking permit program for The Pines neighborhood.

After nearly two hours of discussion, Council’s decision was to ask that City Staff bring the item back to a future meeting.

Milpitas’ Pines neighborhood has experienced an influx of cars, which has created a lack of parking; many residents there claim that spots started being taken up after the new Apex and Ilara apartment developments sprung up. Back in August of 2018, City Staff first brought up the potential creation of the program, and Council directed them to move forward with planning, as well as further outreach to Pines residents. 

At this week’s February 19 meeting, staff presented the pilot program, which would span the course of 6 months, most likely beginning in August of 2019. The program would give parking permits to those who reside in a designated area of 407 households, and require that everyone who parks on the street have a permit to display every day between the hours of midnight and 6AM.

Once a week, police would conduct one random night of active patrol, which would of course open up the opportunity for any enforcement officers to enforce other vehicle violations, such as parking in front of driveways or fire hydrants.

A total of $300,000 would be needed to fund the pilot program. That money would go toward public noticing, police enforcement, and other administrative and management costs.

$195,000 would go into signage alone; staff estimates that a total of 200-250 signs would need to be made up in the area, in order to get the pilot program started.  

Staff also recommended that a new Capital Improvement Program (CIP) be created, and that $230,000 be taken from the 2017-2018 general surplus fund.

The goal of the program would be to try and confirm whether or not residents from the newly constructed Apex and Ilara apartment complexes in the area were causing the problem, and also to see if that problem could be addressed. At the end of the 6-month program, a study would be conducted with residents to determine whether or not the trial was successful, and whether it could potentially be implemented in other areas of Milpitas.

During Public Comment, some Milpitas residents said they weren’t convinced that the costs of the trial run were justified…

“I can’t believe that spending this money is the best use of resources…and that there are many young children in the county challenged as to where they would find their next meal,” said resident Tom Valore, who also expressed concern over some of the information that staff had gathered: 68% of Pines residents choose to park in the street, and 28% never use their driveways or garages for parking.  

“This is a great example of the urbanization happening across our valley, where you have single-family homes that have been established for many decades…and those streets being directly or immediately adjacent to high-density zoning,” said Mayor Rich Tran, who spoke in favor of the program. “We have a lot of activity down there on Abel and South Main, with a lot more development happening, I’m sure. So this decision tonight should be a proactive one, a progressive one, in thinking about the next decade or several ahead.”  

However, not all councilmembers were entirely convinced that this program would do the job in terms of alleviating Pines residents’ concerns…

Councilmember Bob Nuñez wasn’t sure that the results of the program could be used in other parts of the city that are dealing with the same parking issues, and expressed his concern that the addition of more and more cars to the area was inevitable.

Councilmember Anthony Phan also mentioned that he could not support moving the item forward: “I think when it comes to parking, it’s one of those things where you’re not entitled to the spot in front of your house, or the view in front of your house, because you bought your house all those years ago. Life changes. A lot of factors change communities. But at the end of the day, you have to adapt to it,” he said, while telling the story of his family’s emigration to the United States, and the discrimination they experienced when a neighbor, using a racial slur, told Phan’s grandfather not to park in “his” spot in the neighborhood.

Councilmember Nuñez suggested that the item be brought back to a future meeting, after Staff has time to look into and consider other factors, like costs. After his suggestion, Councilmember Phan also added that perhaps the $230,000 go toward something else, like the City’s housing fund, so that priority can be given to making housing more affordable.  

Expressing her appreciation for more time on the parking permit issue, Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez committed to taking the time to walk through The Pines to speak to residents and bring them some of the information that came up under discussion at the meeting. “I want to acknowledge the individuals living in The Pines that have came forth and have been part of these continuous meetings,” said the Vice Mayor. “Hang on just a little more is all I ask from you. And please participate in this process because it is critical for you to share your feedback with us. Because that’s what really makes the votes here. We’re your voice.”

A day after the meeting, on a call with The Milpitas Beat, Mayor Tran mentioned that he looks forward to revisiting the item, and trusts that Council will make the right decision to best serve Pines’ families. “The pilot permit parking program in the Pines neighborhood is very unique,” said the Mayor. “No other neighborhood, and no other streets in Milpitas can compare to the high-density development that’s happening right across the street from The Pines. There’s no other neighborhood in Milpitas where hundreds of new homes without adequate parking are being built. It’s the City Council’s job to ensure that Milpitas residents are protected.”

Councilmember Carmen Montano had to recuse herself and could not be present on the dais for the conversation or vote, as she lives in close proximity to The Pines.

Staff will bring the item back on March 12, as part of an upcoming CIP presentation.

 

Rhoda Shapiro
Rhoda Shapiro works as a journalist and media consultant in the Bay Area. She has written for both the Tri-City Voice and the Mercury News, and is the founder of Chi Media Company, which works with nonprofit organizations to elevate their marketing and communication platforms. Rhoda is also an author; her first book will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide in mid-2019. Her YouTube channel, which features practices in yoga, meditation, and women’s empowerment, has amassed thousands of subscribers. Rhoda is The Milpitas Beat’s founder.

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