By Michael Benninger
Promising to change the game by letting drivers leave their change at home, a slew of new parking meters will appear on San Diego's sidewalks this month.
In June, City Council approved a contract with Sorrento Valley-based IPS Group, Inc., a leading manufacturer of "smart" parking meters that can accept payment via credit cards and mobile apps. As part of the deal, the City will replace 97 percent of its meters, beginning with those in the most congested areas and completing the installation project by year's end.
"Our most utilized meters are located in the Downtown and Uptown Community Parking Districts," says Jonathan Carey, San Diego's Parking Program Manager. "To get immediate benefit from the increased efficiencies, and to provide an enhanced parking experience for our customers, we will start in these districts."
Although the meters offer greater convenience for drivers, the undertaking's primary intent is to collect data, which is fed straight from the devices to the city continuously and wirelessly.
"With our new meters, the City will be able to see real-time statistics and trends so that we can effectively manage on-street metered parking," says Carey. "We can see how much coin is in the cup, if a meter is paid or expired, its battery status, transaction history and any maintenance concerns."
Another potential upside: by granting patrons easier access to businesses in metered areas (with less worry about getting parking tickets), the new meters may bolster the San Diego economy.
"With increased uptime and additional payment options, it will be much easier to comply with the given zone," Carey says.
San Diego parking meters by the numbers
132: Multi-space pay stations
1,000: Parking spots within multi-space metered areas
4,700: Number of meters being replaced
5,700: Total number of on-street metered parking spaces managed by the city
$8.1 million: Value of the City's contract to purchase the new meters
10 years: Anticipated lifespan of the new smart meters
$425: The city's cost for each new meter
490,000: Estimated number of parking citations issued in fiscal year 2014
1,423 lbs.: Average weight of coins collected from San Diego's parking meters each day