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New Parking Meters Will Keep Cars Moving

Santa Monica will add to all its meters sensors that will reset the machines after the posted time limit, preventing meter-feeding and prompting parking turnover. The city forecasts an extra $1.7 million from the system.

It will be the death of meter fairies.

Starting Monday, Santa Monica will start installing at all of the city's more than 6,000 parking meters high-tech sensors that are designed to wipe out the ability to continuously "feed" the machines.

Ground sensors will communicate wirelessly with the meters to shut off when a car has parked beyond the posted time limit and to reset when a car leaves the space.

This could make enforcement easier for the Police Department, and the city's Finance Department has forecast revenues to grow $1.7 million for the first fiscal year that the new technology, which allows drivers to pay with credit cards, is expanded across Santa Monica.

Parking meter sensors were first installed on selected blocks in downtown in March 2011 under a pilot project to replace old coin-only parking meters.

The city announced Tuesday that more sensors will be installed in the next year citywide, beginning Monday in downtown locations. Parking will be restricted for up to one day at up to 100 metered spaces per day during the installation.

"The sensors are part of the new credit-card and phone-enabled parking meters installed over the past several months," said Don Patterson, assistant director of Santa Monica's Finance Department.

The projected revenue increase will come primarily from the use of credit cards, Patterson said. "The average credit card transaction is $1.18, as compared to the average coin transaction of $0.51," he said.

The meters equipped with sensors will alert customers by displaying a message, “max time exceeded,” and will not accept further payment.

The meters "require all customers to pay for all of the time they park at the space ... encouraging the parking space to turn over," Patterson said.

“Feeding” a meter beyond the posted time limit is illegal under city codes. Violaters are subject to a $64 citation.

The new meters are solar-powered and will keep the city from throwing away more than 8,000 AA batteries a year. Customers can pay with credit card over the phone and opt to receive text messages when the meter time is about to expire, and they can remotely add more time up to the posted time limit.

Correction/clarification: An earlier version of this story stated that increased revenue would come from parking citations. City officials say revenue will grow as drivers pay with credit cards.

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Gary Pussan May 17, 2012 at 07:54 PM
The City of Santa Monica is extorting money from its good citizens and then using that money to hire more parking meter maids, so that they can extort more money from us. Enough is enough. There seems to be a "war on cars" in Santa Monica. Stop Signs going up everywhere. Two lanes being turned into one lane ... happening everywhere. Parking Meters being upgraded with technology to notify the Parking Enforcement the second your meter goes over so they can race over there to give you a $64 ticket. Meter maids now on foot so you can't even see them coming. I have a business on Ocean Avenue and my clients are afraid to come to my office because of the corrupt parking violations bureau that circle my block like sharks. This is not necessary and illegal.
Gary Pussan May 17, 2012 at 08:00 PM
The Speed Limit is 65 mph. If I drive 80 mph everyday, I might get a ticket once or twice a year. Compare that to an Expired Meter. If I let my meter go over the limit by 15 minutes everyday, I will probably get 300 tickets a year. The point is that Parking Enforcement is being pursued more diligently then Speeding. There is no public need for this. The public is not being served.
gracechan July 11, 2012 at 11:57 PM
If these new meters take credit cards, won't that mean the city will have to start paying transaction fees? I just recently allowed my business to start accepting credit cards and now one of my biggest costs is the transaction fee to run the card (and it's one of the better rates: http://www.merchantaccount.net/ ) - I wonder how this is going to change the parking ecosystem of Santa Monica.
Nancy Washburn Lee January 21, 2014 at 12:32 AM
Beware of the meters that "re-set". The meters for head-in parking (not parrell) will reset when the car in the next spot pulls out. Many of these meters are installed away from the curb and will re-set when large carts move along the side walk. The city knows about this problem, yet continues to issue tickets. A citixens only recourse is to contest each ticket. Who wants to join up on class action suit?
Paul Rich February 14, 2014 at 12:22 PM
Class action could be the only way to go other than voting in legislators who understand that there are smarter ways to increase city revenue than their parking meter ATM machine.

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