Parking permits could come to East San Jose
Residents place cones along the curb of a neighborhood in East San Jose to save parking spots. Photo by Lloyd Alaban.

Parking in some East San Jose neighborhoods is so difficult that residents place traffic cones along the curbs just to reserve a spot. A fed-up planning commissioner has a solution: parking permits.

Planning Commission Chair Rolando Bonilla, who represents East San Jose, is proposing a pilot parking permit program for some residents. The pilot program proposes two to four permits per household at no cost to the property owner or tenant.

“(The east side) were the folks who held up the economy during the middle of the COVID pandemic. We needed cars to get to and from work,” Bonilla told San José Spotlight. “We’re at a place where people are taking advantage of that reality and converting our part of the city into a long-term car garage for their RVs, for vehicles that eventually need to be towed. What we have now is an environment where community members can’t even park in front of their own home.”

Bonilla still needs to get the City Council to take up his proposal—something he says could happen later this month.

The proposed program looks to relieve parking frustrations for East San Jose residents who complain that they can’t park in their own neighborhoods because there are so many cars—some of them abandoned.

The idea is similar to the city’s permit system in the Naglee Park neighborhood, which keeps students from nearby San Jose State University from parking in residential areas.

“There’s more cars than people,” said resident Joshua Marrone, who has lived in an East San Jose neighborhood near South White Road his entire life. Marrone says some people park in his driveway when there’s no street parking, and others abandon cars on the street rather than paying registration fees. “I don’t know what the solution would be. The solutions to all the problems we have are just to move it from one place to another and it doesn’t really take care of the problem. We need real solutions.”

Just a block away in the same neighborhood, one resident who wished to remain anonymous resorts to parking one of her cars near the front door of her house.

“The streets are small,” she told San José Spotlight. “We have room here, but not when people come to visit us.”

The parking permit proposal comes amid a series of transit-related decisions for the city and the east side, such as ideas for safer pedestrian crossings and talks about reducing the number of parking spaces throughout the city to relieve traffic gridlock.

“The mayor and the council have to wake up and recognize where we’re at today,” Bonilla said. “It’s nice to have audacious goals, but they have to be rooted in a strong foundation, otherwise those ideas aren’t going to happen either.”

Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

Editor’s Note: Rolando Bonilla is married to San José Spotlight board member Perla Rodriguez.

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