PALO ALTO -- Public garages will be front and center Monday as the Palo Alto City Council continues its efforts to ease a parking crunch in downtown.

Council members are set to weigh in on so-called "parking guidance systems" as well as "access and revenue controls" to maximize garage usage. The former would provide real-time information via digital signs about the number of spaces in a structure, while the latter would allow visitors to pay to park beyond the current three-hour limit.

Access and revenue controls, which typically include gates or license plate readers, could also be used to transfer parking permits between employees of downtown businesses, according to a report from City Manager James Keene.

The question before the council is whether it should issue a "request for proposals" for just parking guidance systems or pursue one that also incorporates access and revenue controls. If the council goes with the first option, parking guidance systems could be rolled out in conjunction with a long-awaited residential permit parking program early next year. The more comprehensive approach would take several additional months to implement.

SP Plus, a consultant hired earlier this year to help the city get the most out of its garages, has backed the more comprehensive approach.

According to the report, $2 million has been set aside for parking guidance systems and access and revenue controls.


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In response to other recommendations made by the consultant, the city this month plans to issue requests for proposals for improved way-finding signs for garages, improvements to the city's website for parking permits and information, enabling online permit sales, and enhancing on-street parking enforcement.