Lauren Hepler | Silicon Valley Business Journal

The City of Palo Alto is moving forward with a nearly $500,000, three-year investment in a new Transportation Management Association to help diversify the modes of transit used by local workers and residents. That effort comes as the city mulls other potential remedies for scarce parking, like new satellite lots and technology upgrades for existing garages.
The City of Palo Alto is moving forward with a nearly $500,000, three-year investment in a new Transportation Management Association to help diversify the modes of transit used by local workers and residents. That effort comes as the city mulls other potential remedies for scarce parking, like new satellite lots and technology upgrades for existing garages.

Try driving through Palo Alto during rush hour and you’re likely in for some quality time behind the wheel.

The wealthy Peninsula city known for its concentration of high-paying jobs is a poster child — along with other Silicon Valley office hubs like Mountain View and Sunnyvale — for the traffic gridlock that results from decades of unbalanced economic development.

Because Palo Alto has a very limited supply of homes priced under $1 million, tech workers, professional service providers, hospitality workers and Stanford academics alike commute into the city each day for work, leading to clogged streets and packed parking lots. As I have reported, the city had 3.1 jobs for every one housing unit as of 2012, U.S. Census data shows.

Recognizing that keeping commuters employers happy is a good thing for the city’s tax base, Palo Alto officials are working on multiple fronts to curb traffic woes and parking shortages fueled by the jobs-housing mismatch.

This month, the city approved a $499,880, three-year contract with Berkeley-based consulting firm Moore Lacofano Goltsman Inc. (MIG) to organize a downtown nonprofit Transportation Management Association, according to a report by Palo Alto Weekly. The city aims for the group to “coordinate incentives for downtown employees to switch from cars to other modes of transportation,” the paper adds.

“The city, employers and transit agencies have already promoted trip reduction and alternative options,” according to a memo on the need for the new downtown Transportation Management Association. “Yet, these initiatives are not comprehensive in nature and have not been effective from a district-wide standpoint.” Read more