Parking and the Anti-Business Attitude of San Jose

Nearly twenty years ago, I wrote a column for our downtown community newspaper, City Times, regarding the policy of the City of San Jose and its ridiculous parking laws. Guess what? Nothing has changed. Whenever you want to change the behavior of people or animals, you apply intermittent stimulus to change that behavior. It’s very powerful. An M&M candy or an electric shock given to a subject, administered at unknown intervals, as a reward for certain actions can change the behavior of the subject. Ask B.F. Skinner! Our “SkinnerianCity” is working incredibly well.

The City’s parking rules accomplish this by giving tickets out near the wonderful, new Paesano’s Ristorante in the outskirts of downtown San Jose, situated in the newly designated Little Italy. You’d think the City of San Jose would make a super effort to encourage people to visit the area. Not our city. On Thursday evening, I decided to have dinner at this new restaurant. I fed the meter two hours worth of quarters. I went inside and had a nice glass of wine served by the lovely and attentive Josephine and owner Pino. I was not in a hurry, so I drank my Italiano vino slowly and ordered the insalate verde. Delicious.

I then looked up and saw the meter maid parading outside, giving fines for frequenting this fine dining establishment. Tickets are given out all day until 10:00 p.m.! And the ticketing people are relentless.

Luckily, this time, I had 8 minutes left on my meter, so I did not receive a ticket. Pino, the charming owner of Paesano’s, came out with a pocketful of quarters, lamenting that the city and its stupidity was making it tough on his business and customers. His clients at the restaurant feel on edge because the parking situation will add 25% to the restaurant bill if a ticket is given out. So there we were, standing in the rain, with Pino shoving quarters into the meter. Four dollars worth so far! Back inside we went, so I could finish my dinner and chat with some friends who had sat at the table in the window. Safe in the city that does whatever it can to hurt businesses and train customers/citizens to stay away.

As I left the restaurant and walked to my car, I saw a white envelope on my windshield. How could this be, I thought? Pino, the gentleman, had just put four quarters in my meter. I checked the time on the ticket. Yes, indeed, it was 9:15 p.m. and I had received the ticket eight minutes before. Darn! I never should have stopped and chatted to some friends who were dining that evening. I could have made it out without adding $40 to my bill. Our lovely cash strapped city, with silver-spoon fed union members, has continued to thwart businesses thriving in the downtown area. When will our foolish government wake up and “train” our citizens to come downtown and dine and shop? Instead they train us to avoid coming downtown.

I hope Pino will prevail in getting the meters changed to more reasonable hours. The aggressiveness of the city’s ticketing people is a detriment to business. Let’s make San Jose a business friendly city. At least after normal working hours.


  1. David, my policy is to entirely exclude Downtown from getting any of my disposable income.  Other cities provide vast free parking arrangements for their customers.  Why dick around with the 3 billion dollar blackhole of Downtown?

  2. David,

    I feel your pain; and yes many many many small businesses have felt your pain.  But this city will not change this issue.  Not one council person or mayor will ever.  Not one department head or city employee will ever.  They will only raise prices and fines more then make an impossible to use validation program or stupid ads in the paper promoting empty garages.

    My only suggestion is to not waste your time or money and come downtown.  To the business, sell sell sell.  get out ASAP.  Your domed by doing business in downtown.  The stupidness of this city will not change.  Operation of a business to just survive and pay your bills is a waste of your life.  Many other places in the southbay would kill to have your business open; they would kill to have a little italy to be proud of.  Not San Jose though.  So I’d cut your losses now and move on.


    • Yeah, I walked down S. First between Post & San Fernando last Saturday and noticed several of the small businesses there have closed shop.

      I spend Sat. & Sun. afternoons watching sports DT, mostly at The Loft Bar & Bistro.  Many times I will be the only customer until 2:00 or 3:00 p.m.  Why Kam bothers to open up before 4:00 p.m. on weekends is beyond me.  If you walk around DT on a weekend day, you’ll see more homeless folks than anything else.  After $3billion+ for a 24 hour DT, it’s still mostly a ghost town after 8:00 p.m., except Thurs-Sat, unless the Sharks are in town.  A failure of epic proportions, DT is.  Just think what that $3billion+ could have done in the neighborhoods.

      The Club House (formerly Hawg’s) has already given up the ghost on lunch seven days/week.  They don’t open until 4:00 p.m. any day.  With few patrons, their 35 TVs sucking up juice cost them more than they take in.

  3. Another absolutely stupid and asinine situation is the parking validation program:

    I frequent Gordon Biersch on San Fernando Street frequently, and a friend frequently drives down to meet me for dinner, parking in the lot between 2nd and 3rd streets, adjacent to the Rep. After the $2.00 (now increased to $3.00) evening parking fee was introduced, he obtained validation stickers from Gordon Biersch but was told upon departing the lot that they were not valid. I tried checking the website for answers but could not figure out what the evening validation policy is.

    I ended up calling City staff, and a helpful employee explained to me that the stickers are time-based, citing this example from the website: “Enters at 7 p.m. and exits at 10 p.m., using a 2-hour retail validation coupon. The customer is validated to 9 p.m. and the fee is $2 after 9 p.m.” This means that the evening validation is essentially worthless because I could enter
    at 7pm, leave at 10pm for $2.00 with no validation. However, the same website says “In addition, two-hour validations will be honored, with a few
    exceptions,” which is nonsense given my friend’s experience. If a validation = 20 minutes and 20 minutes = $1.00 before 6pm, then 2 validation stickers should get me out of a lot for free if I enter after 6pm.

    This policy towards validations is confusing and counter-productive. If the City is trying to encourage commerce downtown, they’re going about it the wrong way with current practice. I suggested based on current values, 2 stickers should cover the $3.00 post-6pm flat fee, assuming the car exits before the next morning when time-based parking

    The city’s response: “In looking at your e-mail, it seems you understand the time basis of the
    validation system, and that it is for a maximum of two hours whether it is used during the day or in the evening.  We spent a considerable amount of
    time in January when the evening rate went into effect looking at a variety of ways to accommodate validation.  In the end, we decided to retain the
    time basis of validations. Regardless of when validation occurs, it is good for a maximum of two hours, assuming the participating business decides to
    provide two hours.  So depending upon when and where a customer parks and uses validation, the dollar value of validation may be different. In the
    evening situation you described, if a customer stays two hours and has validation for two hours, parking will be free. For the $2 [$3] evening rate, it
    functions like a flat rate and applies immediately upon entry unless validation is used.  Validation for up to two hours will eliminate the $2 [$3]
    evening rate if parking is for two hours only.  Parking beyond two hours will kick in the $2 [$3] rate.

    Got that? It’s a wonder that anybody comes downtown at all.

  4. The city is a total moron and a screw up.  Let’s face it.  San Jose is the new Detroit of the 21st century.  Downtown is abandoned, and the city coffer is drained. The whole city is unwravelling right before your eyes.  Sad commentary. The city fails.

    • Detroit is the Detroit of the 21st century. And why should the city give you a valuable resource, namely parking, for free? If the business wants costumers, it can build the parking, or validate at a privately owned garage. Free parking=socialism.

      • Why bother going to Downtown in the first place?  It’s pretty much a crap hole compared to other venues… $3 billion of nothingness.  Oh, I’ll bet you live there!

  5. San Jose and downtown desperately need new businesses, jobs and tax revenues,  so what do they do

    The same anti-businesses policies remain, raise taxes and fees higher ( modernize , cut city employees dealing with public so waits and approvals are longer, ignore or don’t compare San Jose to other cities, not be truthful about poor comparisons or dismiss high costs and multiple problems in dealing with city while providing lower level od services and higher cost to residents, businesses and visitors

    Clueless Council and city management wonder why 50,000 residents go to jobs in other cities not San Jose, while 100,000’s more shop, spend millions, start or move their companies and pay millions in taxes in other cities

    If you had a business that was not competative and losing customers and revenue to competitions for over 10 years would you

    1) ignore lack of revenue caused by business problems for years or say problems doesn’t exist

    2) not compare yourself to sucessful competitors

    3) raise prices when you are already highest priced for mediocre services

    4) cut your customer service staff increasing wait time for service

    5) tell your Board of Directors and stakeholders we will ignore the need to increase revenue / business volume and not cut prices to get more customers but will raise prices while cutting services and staff to fix problem

    6) insult, demean and criticize employees as cause of problems while ignoring and hiding millions spent on unnecessary expenses, giveaways to family and friends, lavish contributions to community groups and back office spending that does nothing to lower prices or improve services while spending millions on advertising that says we are #1 when anyone can comparison check and see that isn’t true

    7) ignore employees and ask knowledgeable successful business friends about how to turn business around then ignore advise and tell them their advise is wrong or worst do opposite and tell them you are following their advise

    8) tell everyone you have an open transparent customer focused business and make secret decisions and hide what is going on and where you spend you money

    9) push out, fire or retire professional employees who tell you and senior management what they see are the problems and solutions that you don’t want to hear

    10) hire new management employees who are less qualified, are willing to take more money to be “loyal to senior management ” meaning they will not disagree, tell you what is wrong because they know you will fire them from well paid job with great pension in a weak job marker so remain silent while business continues fails

    Apparent either Council and city management, you pick which 1 or more

    a) believes their monopoly control of city services and ability to without vote of people to raise fees and convince taxpayers after cutting desired services to vote to approve new taxes will get them through crisis until economy recovers or

    b) they will be gone with high pensions, new political or high paid jobs before city falls apart or voter get really angry and force changes

    c) many now believe that they are all of the above:

    Incompetent, incapable of fixing problems, clueless, don’t understand, will be gone to retirement or better jobs before financial disaster occurs

    They believe they cam as has been done for last 4 years blame mistakes and city management incompetency as fault of others even though most were involved in city policy setting and spending decisions for over 6-10 years and if they would of taken action could of fixed many problems but have political conflict of interest or personally benefit financially in current City Hall decision making and lack of effective solutions

  6. Dave,
    How appropriate your article was posted tonight. I just got back home from downtown SJ. I parked in the multi story garage on San Pedro. What a huge mistake. The restaurant suposedly validated my ticket, however when I tried to electronically insert the ticket, it said I owed for the full amount. There was one exit for a 4 story building, and the electronic gate was not letting anybody leave. There was no one in sight to help the situation and we sat in the garage for an hour before it was resolved. Many people were very pissed off.

    I will next time head to Los Gatos, Campbell etc.

    Maybe Pierluigi can concentrate more on this problem and put marijuana and plastic bags on the back burner. They are chasing millions from downtown.

  7. Most readers don’t realize that a huge part of the problem with city parking and the police is 57 year old Debra De Mattei Figone.  She revealed her true nature during her stay in San Jose as assistant city manager under Mayor Hammer until 11/13/2000 and she hasn’t changed a bit since her return to San Jose as city manager on 7/23/2007 at the request of Mayor Reed with a starting $250K salary.

    Under Hammer, she acquired a reputation of rudeness, abruptness, arrogance, and hostility to taxpayers and employees alike.

    Why Reed picked Figone for city manager when he became mayor is unclear, unless he appreciated her abrasive personality and intended to rely on that aspect of her true nature in governing San Jose.

    By the way, the city charter allows the city council to remove the city manager at any time (Section 702) and it allows voters to remove the city manager by recall (Section 703).

    • The “Epic Fail” of the last 15 years was turning the City Manager into a neutered political position.  In traditional council-manager forms of government the manager provides the long-term view and watches the bottom line, serving as a check and balance for “spendaholic” politicians wanting to please everyone on their way to the next political office.

      Letting a strong mayor remove and appoint the city manager and head of redevelopment allowed for the last of the checks and balances to be taken off.  Seems like that’s the worst legacy of former Mayor Gonzales.

  8. Only those who benefit politically or financially ( work for VTA, contractors, local businesses ) encourage others ( not themslves )  to use VTA’s public transit that

    “doesn’t go,  to where people want to go”

    “goes to where,  people don’t want to go”

    ” is expensive, slow, inconvenient transit mostly used by poor, no drivers licenses, old with no other transportation choices ”

  9. Yes.  I agree that San Jose’s parking policies are extremely stupid and anti-business.

    But, lets not blame all government for this.  After all, I’ve heard that government is fundamentally wise and good and really cares about us.

    I’ve also heard that the Obama administration is very very wise and very very good and has just enacted a remarkably wise and good healthcare system.

    Why don’t we just ask the Obama administration to take over the management of San Jose’s downtown parking operations.

  10. you are all kidding right?  there are thousands of free parking spaces in the downtown area lots and garages. The best you can do is blame the unions? You who are too lazy to park and have to walk a block??? pot meet kettle.

    • Where would these thousands of free spots in DTSJ be, professore?  Yes, several PV lots are free until 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.  But during the weekdays and evenings, I’ve never seen any lots where parking is free.  The PV program allows merchants to purchase parking validations cheaply and give them to patrons for up to 2 hours of parking, but that’s not free.  The merchant pays for them.

      Another wrinkle—the meters on First St. near OJ’s cheat you out of 3-5 minutes/hour.  Several friends have reported confirming the time on their cell phones when they put the money in the meter, coming out 55 minutes later and seeing the meter has expired.  Cell phone clocks are completely accurate.  One friend went to feed his meter when there should have been 10 minutes left after two hours.  The meter showed 3 minutes left.  The meter reader was standing at his meter, waiting for the final 3 minutes to expire and to then write him a ticket.

    • Aren’t we getting a tad testy bucko? I am not lazy at all and think your accusation lame at best. I parked in the pouring rain, outside of the restaurant I was eating at.As for blaming the unions, I point that out because I believe the super aggressive parking enforcement is do to fiscal difficulties brought on in large part by pensions and benefits the people of San Jose cannot afford.

      • Ok “thousands” may be en exageration but several hundred near Paesano is not: for starters, the county lot across the street from Paesanos – there is no parking enforcement there. Then you could walk east on Julian under the 87 to Notre Dame where ther are two parking lots with plenty of free parking, of you could walk south on N. Almaden to W.St John make a left walk under the 87 and take you pick of free spaces in any one of several lots….

        then again it was raining and you wouldn’t want to mess up your coiffe especially when that time of the month and acute lack of testes makes you oh so… testy? not to mention the union bogeyman was probably lurking…. plus if you are on such a tight budget thatfeeding the meter is a burden you really ought to stick to pbj’s because you surely can’t afford your property tax which is what the City relies on to satiate the unions.

        • Most, if not all, of the lots you mentioned have signs indicating violators will be towed. 

          As to your second paragraph, it seems that it’s you who needs to take a Midol.

          Another gutless wonder who posts anonymously.

    • The area he’s talking about is West of 87 near Henry’s Hi-Life.  They have these metered spots with short time allowances and long enforcement hours.  I think is was done so people going to the arena wouldn’t swamp this area…but…its really bad for local business.  Same thing exists just East of the freeway around the courthouse and San Pedro, where street spots have short time limits and they love giving tickets for revenue.

      The whole idea of parking meters was to create turnover in front of local business so people could patronize them.  Its morphed into a cash cow…with violations driving revenue streams the city wants.

      Reminds me of the light rail not going to the airport when first built…the parking revenue at the airport was too important to make it simple to take transit.

      • If a ticket is written for a California Vehicle Code violation, then the bulk of the fine is split between many entities and the city does not get that much revenue from it.  If the ticket is written for a Municipal Code ordinance, the city gets every penny from the fine.  Anybody know what they are writing most of the time downtown?

  11. Debra DeMattei Figone “acquired a reputation of rudeness, abruptness, arrogance, and hostility to taxpayers and employees alike.”

    City government workplace tone and morale is set by the boss Her vindictiveness and bullying to those who questioned or challenged her arbitrarily decisions without little or no employee input while her loyalists spreading false information, bully, demean and attacking anyone they perceives or she designates as her enemy is a major reason why city employees are demoralized, upset and as soon as retirement or new jobs are available will be leaving

  12. Parking District funds were meant to maintain Parking Districts.  But last May, RDA “borrowed” District funds to pay for bonding interest that was due on the Fourth Street Garage.  The Fourth Street Garage (not billed with, but is attached to the new City Hall) provides validated parking for City employees and its visitors – and atop the parking structure is the Fairmont Hotel’s ballroom with open-air balconies!

    Parking ticket rates increased with the start of the New Year, and the City is training new Parking Control Officers while threatening everyone else with lay-offs.  San Jose should learn something from its neighbors in Campbell, Los Gatos, and Mountain View – all whose revitalized downtowns encourage and promote small business with no meters at all.

    The Mayor and City Council can cry all they want about Gov. Brown shutting Redevelopment down, but they’re the ones who have sealed downtown’s doom with their short-sighted and greedy predatory parking practices.

  13. Blair

    You are a few years off it was Tom McEnery’s Measure J approved by voters on November 4, 1986 that made changed San Jose city Government to a de facto Strong Mayor government and removed most of checks and balances of Council – City manager form of government after City Manager and staff recommended pension investment firm who lost $60 million pension funds

    Gonzales and Joe Guerra relized that Mayor with council votes could pick a weak out of town City Manager and run City Hall both politically and financially to Mayor and his allies advantage and city and public disadvantage

    Gonzales paid off Labor one of his allies with many large public construction contracts, city employees with high pay and higher pensions, while putting off over 30 years the cost of higher pension plans which they all happily took believing the good times would never end

    They believed they had ” no layoff ” government jobs and guaranteed pensions that taxpayers were required to would pay 75 – 90% pension costs once granted

    Cities and state could not declare bankruptcy and not pay pensions since state court judges who also received high state pensions in personal “conflict of interest” would not allow their own high pensions to be reduced

    City Managers in San Jose and across state grossly failed to do their highly paid professional jobs as required by city charters to control out of control political spending and pensions because either they were afraid they would lose their jobs or with personal “conflict of interest” wanted higher pensions so did little or nothing to inform Council and voters

    Like Silicon Valley high paid boom and bust jobs cycle the bust came to City Hall and economy

    More layoffs, pay and pension cuts and service reductions are coming with taxpayers stuck paying for early age high pensions with less services and higher tax for next 20-30 years

    Voters and taxpayers will not forget for decades how City Managers and government employees took advantage of public trust for their own personal enrichment

    San Jose has had weak City Managers every since Measure J who can be rightfully blamed and failed to control city’s excessive spending, budget and pension problems because they did not do their required jobs and inform Council and voters of future problems

  14. San Jose is like desperate farmer who rather than plant seed corn for great harvest in fall eats it dooming his future  

    City government has by years foolish and now desperate actions has doomed the city’s future with business unfriendly policies, wasteful spending, very high employee costs, high taxes, unreasonable fees and now parking fines and other penalties to drive away businesses, residents and visitors to other cities

  15. In order to truly understand the downtown parking situation one must adhere to the proverbial “follow the money” tactic.  Who owns the bulk of the downtown parking lots?  Which companies manage those parking lots?  Where does the parking lot revenue end up?  How much does the City keep and how much does the contractor keep?  What does the City do with their portion of the parking lot fee revenue?  Answer these questions and you will understand why SJDT is the way it is.  Hint, the City portion of the revenue finds its way to certain pet projects and they don’t include small businesses…..

  16. With all due respect, (and I mean that, as you all seem to care for San Jose very much) I think the general attitude displayed in these posts are based on a lot of incorrect assumptions about the goals of city governance and economics generally.

    The most important thing to understand is that parking is an extremely valuable resource. Parking structures occupy valuable land that could be used for housing, restaurants, offices etc. That means that in general we should be just as worried about the oversupply of parking as an under supply, because the oversupply takes away from building other useful things downtown, and eats up city resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

    On the other hand, if there really is an under supply of parking, then in the short term the city SHOULD charge high rates for it, so that it discourages people who don’t need it from taking away spaces from people who really do. Again, this is pretty simple economics: if there isn’t enough of a resource, the owners of that resource should raise prices so it is efficiently distributed (that means charging more for parking.) In the medium term, the higher prices for parking will encourage the creation of more parking, because business owners and the controllers of capital will notice the higher fees for parking, and build more lots. This will create more supply, and somewhat lower prices.

    Finally, there are repeated claims that free parking “benefits” the people of San Jose. It does not. Firstly, there is no such thing as free parking. We just don’t see how we are paying for the parking, because we pay for it with our taxes, instead of at the lot itself when we park. This hidden cost structure leads to oversupply. What’s worse, we then distribute the free parking to all manner of people, including people from outside the area who now benefit from our largess. The correct position is not to be for free parking or to be “pro-business.” It is to be pro-capitalist and pro-markets, which means charging market rates for parking. We are not entitled to free parking anymore than we are entitled to a free lunch, and I would hope to see further fee experimentation and privatization in the future.

    • Wow,  a city employee just worked for ten minutes and blew thier usual drivle up everyone sewer pipes.  Good job idiot.  I hope you get layed off really soon.

    • Daniel, SJ lawmakers have not yet tried to pass an ordnance forcing citizens to patronize Downtown.  As parking costs rise, people will simply shop and dine in other locations, e.g., Santana, Valley Fair, Sunnyvale, etc.

  17. Downtown is nasty, full of homeless people and thugs at the Santa Clara Light rail station. You have to watch where you are walking so you don’t step in globs of spit. The garages smell like urine, where the homeless use them for toilets. I stay far away and do not go downtown unless I have to. All of that money poured into this downtown and the result is it attracts people who make you want to stay away.

    • Attention Tom McEnery, Harry Mavrogenes, Mayor & Council:  The above is an attitude expressed over and over again by the people of SJ and you just won’t listen, let alone do something about it.

      I have worked DTSJ most of my career since 1973. My clients who come to my office say they never come to DTSJ except to do business, and then only reluctantly.

      I eat at DTSJ restaurants.  I come DTSJ for a number of reasons.  I have hoped for 35+ years that DTSJ would become something.  It has not, nor will it ever, no matter how many RDA $$ you pour into it.

      Why?  because SJ is the burbs. The folks who live here aren’t city folks who want a DT, except for the few septagenarians still alive who reminisce about Hart’s and Roos Brothers, etc..  The people who live here now are suburbanites.  Many work in SF, but when they come back here, they stay in their neighborhood enclaves where they are comfortable.  They don’t give a damn about DTSJ, and many resent the billions of dollars poured into it, to the detriment of their neighborhoods.  WHEN WILL ALL YOU GOVT./RDA TYPES WAKE UP TO THIS FACT?  Making DTSJ some 24 hour Mecca will NEVER HAPPEN.

      People who live in Willow Glen, Almaden,LG, Saratoga, even if they work DTSJ, will rarely go home and come back to DTSJ to party, be entertained, grab a meal.  Sure, there are exceptions for Opera, Rep, etc., but that’s a few hundred folks a few days a year. There will NEVER be a 24 hour DTSJ.

      On the other hand, younger folks from the East Side, Milpitas, Fremont, Hayward, and even Oakland come down Thursday-Saturday nights, many of whom cause problems that require an inordinate % of the police force to be DTSJ during that time, thus leaving the taxpayers of most neighborhoods with less police protection.  Oh, I can’t say that either, despite the fact that every homicide so far this year, and the majority of homicides in SJ year over year are perpetrated by folks with Spanish surnames.  And so far, every victim but one this year also had a Spanish surname.  A coincidence? Raj & Sean Webby will never admit that, while they criticize our police force for nabbing too many Spanish surname lawbreakers.

      I have known for at least 10 years that the area around the Santa Clara VTA station across from DT Zanotto’s is an illegal drug emporium.  I walk past it several days/week on the way to lunch, and could point out a half dozen drug dealer types on any given day. The majority of them stick out like a sore thumb in that parking lot and along Fountain Alley because they are black, in a city with an almoast invisible black population. OOPS, I can’t say that either. That’s profiling, which our PC police and local government apparatchicks don’t allow any more. The Murky News finally ran a story today about it today, noting the fact that SJPD has finally put some resources to curtail this illegal activity.  DUH!
      As I walked by there today after the crackdown, no obvious dealers in sight.  What’s the over/under on how many days that will last?

      For these and many more reasons, except for the convention business, the $$ spent by RDA to revitalize DTSJ is a COMPLETE AND TOTAL BUST.

  18. > On the other hand, if there really is an under supply of parking, then in the short term the city SHOULD charge high rates for it, so that it discourages people who don’t need it from taking away spaces from people who really do. Again, this is pretty simple economics:


    A great free market analysis.  Unfortunately, most of it doesn’t apply because it ISN’T simple economics.

    Businesses may respond to market forces; consumers may respond to market forces; but governments resopond to political forces.

    There are times and places where brilliant, pristine free market analyses simply don’t apply:

    What is the price of the last seat on a lifeboat?

    What is the price of dirty pictures of Muhammad in downtown Tehran?  What is the supply and demand relationship?

    “Parking” represents different things to different people.  To businesses, it is “customer enablement”.  To politicians it is a bargaining chip for political contributions. 

    The politician “market” trumps the business market.

    • I agree that some things are hard to price, but it’s hard for me to see why parking should be one of them. It’s a standardized product, unlike “the last seat on a lifeboat” or various forms of intellectual property, and it has very few externalities, so long as we don’t provide it for free through our city government.

      Likewise, of course political pressure can mess up economic decision making, but I think we are missing the direction from which that pressure would be applied. Almost all the political pressure is going to be coming from people who want to OVER SUPPLY parking downtown. Imagine you are a business owner or own business-zoned real estate downtown. Free parking downtown will only increase the value of your business and your land. And who pays for this increased value? Why, the good old people of San Jose, who build and maintain the parking, and know very little about how hard downtown businesses lobbied for free parking, what promises were made behind closed doors etc. For the politician, this is a win win, because he can now announce that he has given the people “free parking” while placating downtown businesses.

      Whereas most of the posts here despise the city for maximizing revenue from the lots, I suspect that’s the only thing stopping the city from totally caving to special interests. Though am happy to be corrected if I am wrong. Again, some of you guys seem to know more of the “insider” politics than I do.

      The best solution, of course, would be to wait until the real estate market recovers, then sell the parking structures/lots off to competing private companies.

  19. What would any person or your family come to expensive difficult problematic downtown San Jose when their are many, many other better options for most of what you want in neighborhoods, shopping centers and other city’s great downtown shops, restaurants, events and services

    Most San Jose and Santa Clara County residents have an ” anywhere but downtown San Jose ” opinion except for small number of unique events, dance clubs or sports unavailable elsewhere which is why downtown has few successful business and Council is wasting more good money on $2-3 billion bad taxpayer downtown investment

    New residents and visitors come of way everyday from downtown with “anywhere but downtown San Jose” attitudes after bad experiences and seeing downtown problems

    Until politicians make downtown ’ Business and consumer friendly ” nothing will change and more taxes will be wasted

    If all city and redevelopment mostly wasted political spending on downtown stopped,  we would not have budget deficit

    Downtown has been a horrible taxpayer investment that produced few jobs and less taxes than taxes spent while enriching downtown developers, property owners, sports owners and other who received millions in tax subsidies, city political deals or sweetheart contracts

    • All of the bad investments and wasting of taxpayers money and the administration blows the smoke to make it look like the employees caused the debt problems. Reminds me of the “lawyer game”. When things do not look good in their favor, they start making noise to blow the smoke in the other direction so that the focus is taken off of their problem. Hey, wasn’t Chuck a lawyer? Hmmm. Wake up people! Start focusing on the administration and what they have done with your tax dollars. Look to see how it was spent. Stop blaming it on the employee. Don’t let this get by you. If I were you, I would be super PO’d and would want to take a look at the records. This is suppose to be an open government. Check the records. Find out where the money went. Demand an investigation. A forensic examiner would be able to find out just where the money went and how it was spent. You are an intelligent public. Don’t sit back and let someone feed you what THEY want you to believe. Find out for yourself. Don’t let anyone pull the wool over your eyes. Just look at the billion dollar downtown waste. What a shame. And then they put it all on the backs of the employee and ruin their lives.

  20. “Whereas most of the posts here despise the city for maximizing revenue from the lots, I suspect that’s the only thing stopping the city from totally caving to special interests. “

    Downtown parking lots were like many downtown taxpayer paid projects tax subsidies to developers and businesses to encourage downtown investment

    Economic development staff overly optimistic projections influenced by political pressure did not occur and city did not get their investment back or generate additional taxes from increased downtown business and visitors because

    1) businesses did not grow and many closed except for clubs which required 1/2 -1 million in additional police costs

    2) best and largest parking revenue city owned lots were leased in typical San Jose insider political deals at low rates transferring 10’s millions in potential city revenues to Sharks, HP Arena management, hotels and other downtown insiders

    Unfortunately downtown’s business increases did not occur requiring larger and larger tax subsidies until finally Council had to raise parking rates or cut more services or layoff city employees

  21. Besides urban sprawl, many feel that when the Mercury News moved their offices out of downtown, it sent a message that downtown no longer was the hub of the City.  We have now spent billions to undo that. 

    Redevelopment is the modern version of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.  City leaders can tout what a wonderful a job they have done to revitalize downtown – yet their irresponsible fiscal decisions are showing…in their increased reliability upon parking ticket revenues to cover their behinds!

    • We just downsized. Come by and check out our tax-payer subsidized office at City Hall! We shill for whatever the Manager/Mayor and majority of the council are pushing on a day-to-day basis as long as Raj and CO are down with it.  We are very anti-union right now unless it is the SEIU.

      • Betcha you get to park for free too, right Mr. Ridder?  Times must be tough if the City no longer provides valet services between the Knight-Ridder Towers (former RDA-subsidized Fairmont Plaza) and your new digs!

  22. Wow! Such vitriolic commentary. It diverges from the message I tried to convey regarding one area of the city having an over zealous parking situation,which impacts the businesses in that area. The discussion has moved to the the point of lunacy and irrelevance.

  23. As Director of the Little Italy project, I would agree that having meters run to 10:00pm is excessive and we are working with the Downtown Association to try and help.  But I did want to mention that Little Italy San Jose has worked out free parking for Paesano Ristorante customers across the street in the YA Tittle parking lot every night after 5pm except on Sharks home game nights. There are 47 spaces and plenty of parking, save your quarters and come join us for dinner.  For more info on Little Italy visit and Paesano’s

  24. David –

    What do you expect from a political blog when most San Jose residents very frustrated with Council and city mis-managers wasting or mismanaging more millions city and redevelopment taxes on downtown with no noticeable improvements but lots of excuses while rest of city subsidizes a problematic downtown that few residents want to visit

    Each year we see tens millions more spent on the next over budgeted, over promised and predictable under performing, mismanaged, unaccountable downtown project or city owned facilities by same cast of insiders and highly paid city mismanagers with more excuses for gross financial mismanagement, no accountability or legal recourse to recover taxes wasted but requiring millions more taxes to bailout yet again  

    Year after year Council and very highly paid city mis-managers talk about improving San Jose when what they mean is downtown only  

    We year after year hear more unbelievable excuses about next failed project or ballout while most of rest of city is neglected.

    Taxes and fees increase while services decrease and residents see tens millions given to enrich political cronies, ex city political and retired managers lobbyists, consultants, downtown property owners, sports team owners and developers while city blames city employees who had little to do with decisions and mismanagement that resulted in downtown and budget problems

  25. I received this notice from a friend and I’m sure that it holds true for San Jose.
    —HUGE California Traffic Tickets
    Fines Effective 01/06/2011

    Please be extremely careful in your driving and car
    registration & insurance matters.  State of California is broke
    and they are trying hard to squeeze all of us hard to collect

    Effective immediately, if you do not stop at the red light, be
    ready to pay $436 in fines or if you pass a school bus with
    flashing red signals, you will be charged $616.  The state of
    California is going for blood, so be extra careful in driving,
    You cannot afford messing with them.  I have been hearing that
    Highway Patrols are under pressure to issue a lot more tickets
    than last year with at least 30% increase in fines over 2009,
    so beware of radar guns, highway and traffic cameras installed
    everywhere and the tougher enforcement of parking rules.

    Just for your info, the next time you park in the handicapped
    zone, even for a minute, you will be looking at almost $ 1000
    in parking tickets , so it’d better be worth it.

    California needs money, so pay close attention to the rules of
    the road!

    • Although perhaps those fines are high which does have some downside in their administration, I don’t have much sympathy for anyone knowingly violating those 3 laws & situations, granted there may be exceptions for emergencies (as decidied in court). 
      Good times or bad, people should “pay close attention to the rules of the road”.
      <but, this is beyond the parking law debate for which several good, if conflicting, points have been made here>

  26. Personally, I think people who whine about free parking are babies. I love downtown and I love paying for parking so I don’t have to eat at a damn strip mall.
    But the city is at fault here.  The writer is correct. I don’t mind paid parking but tickets annoy people out of all proportion. I know lots of people who avoid downtown to save $5 on parking but then they’ll drop $100 on dinner. It’s nonsense to me but that is how people are.

  27. I’m new to San Jose and at first when I saw some cool restaraunts and coffee shops in downtown sj, I was excited. Then I tried to find parking to go to these places.  I looked around for a spot and noticed that there were meters Everywhere! Ridiculous. It was a kill joy. Where I come from there are hardly ever parking meters, and when there are, there are many other free alternatives within a couple hundred feet.

    I got a ticket on my first day downtown. I wanted a cup of Philz coffee and managed to find a quarter for the meter. By the time I came out with my coffee the meter man was speed walking to his little 3 wheeler with a guilty look on his face. Sure enough I had a ticket. 2 minutes over. 2 minutes = $30 ticket.  Men need to start carrying purses around to hold all the dang quarters you’d need for these primitive machines. It’s like hotels charging extra money for accessing their WiFi. It’s just bad form and makes me not want to come back ever again and buy stuff.

  28. I have received thousands of dollars of mostly fraudulent parking tickets from the downtown San Jose
    company (not a part of the city) that writes parking tickets. They would not let me dispute any of them, I filled out the forms and turned them in in person,
    and finally ended up paying the tickets with my financial aid money. I dropped out of college as a result and have now been working in a low paying job for about a year and have since moved to a neighboring city. I still receive fraud tickets every year on my D.M.V.  This is beyond corruptioon. I have finally convinced some larger agencies to accept my complaint.

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