Driving around Pleasanton isn't comparable to, say, Boston at rush hour or the Bay Bridge, but there are certain spots around town that can drive a driver insane, especially when it comes to parking lots.
So here's my list of the Top 10 Worst (Insert Other Choice Adjectives Here) Parking Lots in Pleasanton. Feel free to fully debate the merits of said list in the comments below and suggest additions, subtractions, etc.
This lot clearly was not designed for today's SUVs. The clown-car size parking spaces are microscopic in width and length, and with a narrow roadway between and no sidewalks it's tricky to walk through with little kids, knowing no driver could see them as they're trying to back out between the large car butts jutting out here and there. There's also a busy drop-off area, where cars often linger/double park to pick up library patrons, blocking the main entrance and creating a back-up into the street.
With a wacky one-way loop, several entrances and exits off busy streets and tiny side lot areas, navigating a car through here can be dicey. Cars exiting onto Hopyard Road face Valley Avenue traffic that isn't interested in slowing for merging vehicles. If you exit onto Valley eastbound, it's difficult to cross over two lanes through the median, given the timing of the lights. There just aren't enough spaces at and . Note to drivers: Unless you're yielding to bikers, walkers, etc., you do NOT have to stop to merge onto Hopyard northbound from Valley. This actually backs up traffic trying to enter the shopping center. And it's really annoying.
8. Stoneridge Shopping Center
Aside from fearing for your life with , this lot is difficult to leave and enter with its multiple entrances and exits immediately into Stoneridge Mall Road, which circles the entire property. Cars like to speed around the mall like it's a track, clearly oblivious to drivers that are slowing down to enter the lot. Drivers leaving have to just gun it fast and hope no one is whipping around a corner. Can anyone say: Add a stop sign? In terms of life inside the lot, forget parking anywhere near The Cheesecake Factory on a Friday night. And hide your belongings.
7. Gas Corner Market at Bernal
Whew. Combine a , a busy gas station with a car wash, a busy street off the freeway and the new Safeway, and you've got No. 7 on our list. The Bernal Avenue entrance puts drivers right into the drive-thru exit, up against cars backing out from the convenience store spaces and navigating through vehicles leaving the pumps. I've seen many multi-car jams here, with no one having any idea of where to go.
Why do people think it's OK to speed through this parking lot? Or any parking lot for that matter? Despite a stop sign outside Walgreens and plenty of speed bumps, I've had many close calls in this lot. I'm guessing drivers are rushing through to avoid the light at Valley and Santa Rita? Then there's the overcrowded parking section outside Starbucks. Bad! And don't get me started on that newly installed traffic island that bans left turns onto Valley from the exit behind Walgreens. Now cars have to make an awkward U-turn at Santa Rita to get where they're going. And I'm just waiting for some drunk to run it over in the middle of the night.
It seems like a Trader Joe's signature: affordable fairly healthy food items and .... packed parking lots. I don't think I've ever been to a Trader Joe's with great parking. Maybe because they're housed in spaces that are compact and inexpensive to lease? Anyway, Pleasanton's Traders isn't any exception. The lot, with its strange sloping grade (perfect for carts to go rolling off on their own) and small spaces (see No. 9), can be a nightmare. Cars entering from Santa Rita northbound have to navigate a narrow corner around the Italian restaurant, and it backs up from there. Tip: No one seems to police the spaces behind the restaurant (facing Pimlico) near the gas station car lot.
4. West Angela/Peters Avenue Bank Lot (on Saturdays)
It is extremely baffling to see the huge number of parking spaces reserved for the bank when there's absolutely no way that many people ever even GO to a bank in person at any one time. (Hello, online banking!) Fortunately the city doesn't seem to be enforcing this ridiculousness, as 99 percent of the people who park here on Saturdays are bound for the farmers' market. But then, sadly, you have the tiny lot next door, with a mere fraction of spaces, that does indeed need some additional parking. They end up having to put up warning signs and have a security person patrol the area.
3. Downtown Pleasanton, Thursdays, Anywhere Near
While Mr. DJ spins his tunes, girls (yes, "girls," not women) have been seen stopping traffic on St. Johns to teeter across the street in stilettos and mini skirts to get to Barones' popular summer music parties. But what about the rest of us boring locals who just want to meet up with friends for dinner in the area? Forget it. You might as well walk downtown on a Thursday. Then there are some sassy parking lot attendants at neighboring barking out threats to anyone they think might be trying to avoid their hefty parking fee, which they likely had to add to stop the Barone's girls from stealing their restaurant spots. While I'm super glad downtown Pleasanton is attracting lots of business, it's getting a little too crazy, people, and it's going to start deterring folks from frequenting other businesses in the area.
2. Pleasanton Sports Park
This is really an accident waiting to happen. There aren't enough parking spaces in the main lots, so cars end up in the tight short spaces that back out directly into the narrow Sports Park Drive. Cars speed down this road, and there are too many kids and people here to make this safe. The signage and road markings in the main lots are inadequate, and the lot seems to just merge into the roadway. Drivers, be careful! There are lots of kids here on game days! Don't get me started on Blackbird Drive, where it's clear neighbors are bitter to get the overflow. Cars speed here, too, and residents seem sick and tired of their driveways getting blocked.
1. Dublin/Pleasanton BART
Why can't BART install space counters in its parking garages? It's like a visit to Parking Garage Hell to drive around in circles, spiraling up, hoping there's a space left, only to hit the top and find nothing, and then have to cram your car around to exit, while other similarly S.O.L. drivers pile up behind you. I've learned my lesson. You cannot park anywhere at BART in Pleasanton or Dublin after 8 a.m. And to make the pain worse, you get to cruise by all the unused car pool spaces and 10 a.m.-and-later spots, which I highly doubt ever really EVER get full after 10 a.m. These days, I either get dropped off or drive to park at Castro Valley, which, um, sort of defeats the purpose of having our own BART stations.