Park It Here

If it ain’t the major things in life that get you, it’s the minor things. Parking spots definitely fall into the latter category; nevertheless they get to me and not in a minor way either. Let’s first examine the city’s new “smart” parking meters, soon to be installed on a city street near you, if not already. LuckySanta Monicawas the first to get thesenew citycash cows, more than 6,000 of them have been installed so far.

And get this, these meters come installed along with special ground sensors that can tell if a car has left the spot so that they will no longer accept payment after the indicated time limit has expired. This means drivers will no longer be able to run back and “feed” the meter to stay parked over the allotted time limit. Now you have to run back and move your car out and start looking for another spot, before the meter maids get you!

Oh, and here’s another special treat for all you suckers who have to park your cars; the meters will automatically reset to zero whenever a car leaves the space, which means you don’t have to hope for a spot with “time left on it” anymore because, ha-ha, there won’t be any.  Hey, they don’t callSanta Monicathe friendly city for nothing. Come to think of it, they never did call it that.

The good news is, the new parking meters will allow customers to pay by credit card, phone, or coins and will send text messages to alert when a time limit is about to expire. High tech, isn’t that cool? The city spokesman said that the changes were made to improve the customer experience. Customer? Is that what these bureaucrats think of the citizens, as “customers?” “Improve the customer experience?” Did this guy once work atDisneylandor something?

The REAL reason for the change is that some bean counter downtown figured out that the city expects an increase in revenues from citations of $1.7 million for the first year of implementation and who knows how much more in the years after that. With revenues jacked up like that, look for these wonderful new meters coming to your very own community in the near future.

Oh, here’s some more good news; just recently the Los Angeles City Council voted to hike parking fines by $5, the sixth increase in the last seven years. The fine for parking at an expired meter is now $63, up 80% from 2005, the year Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took office. And just weeks after they hiked the fines for dozens of parking violations, elected leaders inL.A.voted to add more than 400 parking meters to a pair of neighborhoods.

The City Council agreed to install 247 meters on streets in Palms, just north ofCulver Citynear the 10 Freeway. Another 190 will go up in a part of Westchester nearLos AngelesInternationalAirport, on streets such asAirport Boulevard, Century Boulevard, and98th Street. Within a few years, the meters are expected to generate more than $280,000 annually for the city, according to the proposal.  Isn’t that great?

And if that wasn’t great enough, the city has started a pilot program downtown called LA Express Park. This is a one-year, $18.5 million Department of Transportation experimental program that implements varying rates depending on demand for about6,000 Downtown streetmetered spaces. What that means is, exactly how much the parking spot will cost will vary depending on how many drivers are looking for a place to park. Yet another high tech advancement!  This is just sooo cool!

Under the program, rates in Downtown could fluctuate from 50 cents to as much as $6 an hour depending on how many cars are looking for a spot, said Peter Ghent, a senior management analyst for the LADOT and the project manager. Before today the highest rate at Downtown meters was $4 per hour.

Isn’t it comforting to know that our city officials are working so hard to make sure that our public parking spots keep up with the latest technological advances in parking meters and increased revenue generation? It just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy all over. I certainly am glad their priorities are straight. God forbid they should try and get this city solvent by doing something silly like CUTTING GOVERNMENT SPENDING. No, just install new meters, increase the ticket costs, and gouge the citizens who are stupid enough to still drive a car instead of riding a bicycle or taking public transportation. It’s called PTC. Punish The Citizen.

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