Mountain View downtown access strategy could dovetail with Caltrain and Clipper upgrades

On Tuesday, November 9, the Mountain View City Council is slated to approve a multi-dimensional downtown parking and access strategy.  Based on earlier City Council guidance, the proposed strategies consider making better use of existing car parking with strategies including:

  • paid parking (almost all downtown parking is free of charge)
  • better management of parking permits
  • better wayfinding for city lots (because there are almost always spaces but people don’t know where they are)
  • shared use of underutilized private parking
  • transportation demand management policies to incent less driving, including transit passes and shuttles
  • improvements to the residential permit parking program so that streets near downtown don’t become the main source of free parking

Notably, the staff report indicates that a program with paid parking and better management of parking permits would likely generate revenue after the first year that paid parking is installed. A useful practice can be to feed revenue from parking into programs making it easier to drive less, reducing the need for more parking and helping to reduce traffic and pollution.

One of the City Council’s goals is equity, the proposal before the City Council does not yet have equity policies. The proposal for the city council includes providing “an affordable permit option.” In addition to supporting driving options, the transportation demand management program could also provide transit passes for low-income workers whose employers don’t provide transit benefits.

As Mountain View considers its policies to encourage less driving, there are a number of regional transit improvements in the works that could be helpful for Mountain View and other transit-rich downtown areas.  As a city, Mountain View doesn’t control the transit agencies, but could comment in concert with other cities to encourage transit programs and schedules that support a thriving downtown with less driving by workers and visitors.

  • All-agency transit passes.  It is looking increasingly likely that in 2022 there will be a pilot all-agency transit pass for organizations, starting with educational institutions and affordable housing, and expanding to employers and TMAs.  This could be very helpful in providing more flexible transit benefits to workers
  • Clipper 2.0 and guest transit validation. In cities with paid parking, it is common for businesses to “validate” customer parking, and nowadays there are apps for parking validation. All the more so, why not reward customers who visit downtown by transit?
  • Convenient electric Caltrain service. Now slated for 2024, electrified Caltrain will be an opportunity for a schedule with hours and frequency that support retail/restaurant work schedules and dining/entertainment uses

If you are live, work, or visit downtown Mountain View, and want to encourage access with less stress and less driving, the Council agenda is here with instructions to watch, listen and comment via Zoom.