Public WorksCity of San Carlos

City Hall
600 Elm Street
Phone: (650)802-4200


Subject :

Holly Street Parking and Traffic Changes
Contact :Jay Walter, Director of Public Works, Public Works    (650) 802-4203
SAN CARLOS, CA, July 17, 2014 – At its meeting on Monday, July 14, 2014, the San Carlos City Council passed an ordinance to limit parking during business hours on Holly Street between Industrial and Old County Road in an attempt to improve traffic flow in the area. The Council approved a project that includes parking restrictions, new signs, signal modifications and traffic striping to smooth traffic flow from the 101 Interchange to El Camino Real.  Holly Street will be restriped so that two lanes of traffic are visible in both directions, new signs will be posted and parking will be restricted between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  All of these solutions working together should alleviate most of the traffic issues. 
Holly Street is the main access to US-101 from San Carlos and traffic has been a challenge for many years along the corridor. The traffic problem is expected to worsen with the opening of the new Palo Alto Medical Center in a few months.  Studies of solutions have been performed, including an extensive study in 2009, but no solutions have been implemented. In a recent community survey, improving traffic flow along Holly Street was identified as one of the things that the City should prioritize. 

Prior to making the decision to restrict parking, the City considered a number of options, which were presented to the Council at its March 23, 2014 meeting.  One of the alternatives included widening the road, as City right of way currently extends five feet into the front yards of the residences along Holly Street.  The Council also considered purchasing the homes along Holly to widen the road and create a landscaped gateway into the city.  The Council expressed a strong disinterest in impacting private property owner rights and gave direction for staff to find other ways to improve traffic flow in the corridor.

Staff continues to evaluate all the alternatives presented during the March 23rd meeting, but  determined that the options presented to Council at the meeting on July 14th were the most effective immediate solutions. Speed humps and stop signs are not an option for Holly Street, as it is designated as an arterial street, which is intended for the highest levels of traffic and circulation in the city. Parking restrictions are a viable option, and do not impact private ownership rights as the restrictions are in public right of way, not on private property.

To assist the residents along Holly Street to adjust to the new restrictions, the City is planning zoning changes to allow the property owners along Holly Street to add more parking in front of their homes if they desire. The City is also considering a parking permit system at no cost for residents with an urgent or extended parking need. In addition, an option to acquire property along Holly to create off street parking for residents' use is being examined.

City Manager Jeff Maltbie said, "The congestion along Holly Street has long been a problem for our residents. The Council’s action on Monday night is a step in the direction we need to take to begin to solve that problem. We recognize the impact this will have on the Holly Street residents, but also recognize the benefit it will have to the economic well-being of the City."

Mayor Mark Olbert added, "The congestion on Holly Street is the worst in the city, and is only going to deteriorate further over the next few years. The Council directed staff to monitor the results of the changes and report back later in the year so we can decide whether they are sufficient, need to be expanded, or can be scaled back. We are working on ways to mitigate the impact of extending no parking hours on weekdays."