Downtown parking

Parking in downtown Menlo Park includes three options:

  • Parking plazas (City-owned)
  • Curbside parking (on-street)
  • Private parking lots
As of January 2016, the City implemented a downtown parking pilot program that extended the free parking time limits for most parking spaces, with time limits varying between 15 minutes and 3 hours free of charge.

Two of the existing parking plazas also have a pay-parking option, where customers can purchase additional time beyond the 3 free hours.
An evaluation of the program effectiveness will be shared at a future City Council meeting before any permanent changes are made.

See the City's current parking map for the locations of these plazas.

Downtown parking history

In 2011, the City implemented recommendations from the 2010 Downtown Menlo Park Parking Plan. This study was developed to address the perception that parking assets in the downtown area were not efficiently timed to make parking available for visitors or customers when they need it. Community members indicated that parking time limits were too short to support the commercial and retail uses that exist on Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Avenue and Oak Grove Avenue.

The plan was developed to include a detailed analysis of current parking usage and to utilize extensive outreach to the downtown community via a survey and a series of three public workshops. The plan made recommendations to better manage the current parking supply which could be implemented quickly such as providing paid parking options at parking plazas 1 and 5 and converting 2-hour parking spaces on Santa Cruz Avenue to 1-hour parking spaces.

In June 2013 and March 2015, the City Council hosted public study sessions to evaluate and discuss potential modifications to the Downtown Parking Program to better serve downtown patrons. On October 20, 2015, the City Council considered staff recommendations for potential changes and took action at the November 10, 2015, City Council meeting.

On November 10, 2015, the City Council approved the following free time limit changes to Downtown parking as a pilot program that began in January 2016:

  • Downtown public off-street parking plazas free parking time limits extended from 2 hours to 3 hours. Plaza 4 remained 2 hours.
  • Downtown 1 hour on-street parking spaces free parking time limits extended to 90 minutes.