Santa Monica parking meters will really nickel and dime you now

santa-monica-sidewalk-meter.jpgAnd you thought the city of Los Angeles was getting overly anal about prying cash from minor parking violators.

The city of Santa Monica sent out a press release today crowing about how techy and cool the new, smarter parking meters are in the city's popular downtown. Drivers can pay by phone, get a text when time is running out, even find out where spots are available. The standard tech-is-cool story line, usually sufficient to mesmerize digital enthusiasts and the media.

Now for the fine print.

Beginning May 14, 2012, the City will be expanding the use of parking meter sensors....

The meters, with sensors, also require all customers to pay for all of the time they park at the space by resetting the meter when a vehicle vacates the spot, encouraging the parking space to turn over. This is similar to long-standing operations of the City’s off-street parking facilities.

The parking meters with sensors also ensure compliance with existing time limit restrictions by preventing the same vehicle from parking beyond the posted time limit. The meters equipped with sensors will alert the customer by displaying a message, “max time exceeded,” and preventing further payment. Currently “feeding” the meter beyond the posted time limit is prohibited and subject to a $64 citation.

If you didn't get that — no more serendipity where you pull up to a meter that already has time on it. When a car leaves, the smart meter resets to zero before the next car comes in. The city gets a few more dollars a day.

And no more feeding a meter with more quarters (or increasingly, dollars) when your time is up. It may come as a surprise to many drivers that it's illegal to keep feeding a meter in order to stay beyond the posted time limit. The new meters will know that you didn't leave — and you'll get a $64 ticket if you re-feed the meter. It's always been the law, just not always enforced.

And we haven't even talked about how smart meters let the city raise the price of a spot on the curb at any time the algorithm says there is more demand. Have a nice day.

LA Observed photo: Main Street, Santa Monica

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