PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — A parking problem in Old Town Palo Alto is finally getting resolved after years of complaints from homeowners, but there’s catch: residents are being told to pay up.

“It’s every day all day,” said Ann Protter. “Whenever I have anybody come over, whether it’s a friend, a relative or a work person, it’s impossible for them to find a place to park.”

Protter, who has lived in the neighborhood for decades, said during the work week nearly every single parking spot in the impacted area near Bowen Park is taken. Most of the time, the spots are taken by non-residents who use Caltrain and don’t want to pay $5.50 for parking at the Caltrain lot, according to Protter.

“I went over there and counted over 30 parking places yesterday and Palo Alto is renting another 40 spots, so that means basically nobody is parking in Caltrain.”

But while Protter and her neighbors will soon see street parking open up after Palo Alto city council members unanimously approved a parking permit program on Monday, there’s a bit of a twist.

Residents will have to pay $50 a year for a parking permit. They’ll be able to pay for up to 5 permits and up to 50 daily permits for guests at $5 each.

Protter said while she can’t wait to see whether the program alleviates the parking problem, she isn’t fully on board.

“I would really like to see us get at least one free permit,” she said. “Doesn’t feel right to me to pay just to have the ability to park right in front of my street, in front of my house.”

Naveen Ancha said he parks in the neighborhood because in the area of Palo Alto where he works, there’s a time limit or he needs an all-day permit, which he said he applied to half a year ago.

“I’m screwed,” Ancha said of learning about the permit program. “City should do something about it, maybe bring up more parking or something like that, so far they’ve been pretty slow to respond.”

According to the Mercury News, the city’s vice mayor supports charging residents because it costs $750,000 to operate the parking programs.

City leaders hope the parking predicament in Palo Alto will be resolved with this pilot program that will last one year, but Protter hopes for some tweaks along the way.

“I don’t think it feels quite right that I have to pay when somebody who’s three blocks away from me doesn’t have to pay,” Protter said.

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