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Santa Rosa to test two companies’ parking meters


Santa Rosa is preparing to install high-tech parking meters from two rival companies to help it decide which system is best equipped to replace the much-maligned downtown parking kiosks.

City workers recently began installing poles along the 600 block of Fourth Street that will soon house the new devices, which are meant to be easier to use.

The city opted for a 30-day trial because a selection panel couldn’t decide between two finalists bidding for the right to supply the city with 215 new single-space meters, explained Kim Nadeau, the head of the city’s parking division.

“Because they were so close, we wanted to make sure we had absolutely the most information before we went forward with a recommendation,” Nadeau said.

Valerie Domenichelli, right, of Santa Rosa uses a parking meter kiosk on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa on Wednesday. Officials with the city are considering, with pressure from downtown businesses, whether to put in individual meters and forego the kiosk system. (Kent Porter / PD)

Valerie Domenichelli, right, of Santa Rosa uses a parking meter kiosk on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa on Wednesday. Officials with the city are considering, with pressure from downtown businesses, whether to put in individual meters and forego the kiosk system. (Kent Porter / PD)

The two finalists are IPS Group of San Diego and Duncan Solutions of Milwaukee. The meters are expected to go live in mid-September.

Each company has agreed to supply the city with 20 parking units at no cost so it can evaluate both the user experience and the back-office software, Nadeau said.

The units are solar powered, accept coins and credit cards, and, unlike the kiosks, do not require a drivers to return to their vehicles to place a slip of paper in the dashboard.

In addition to the meters, the companies are each providing five sensors that can detect when a car is located in a space, Nadeau said.

In May, the City Council agreed to explore replacing about 30 kiosks with new single-space meters after downtown merchants submitted petitions signed by more than 2,000 people expressing a preference for modern single-space meters.

The city estimated the cost of the new meters at about $172,000. The actual cost won’t be known until the successful bidder is selected.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @citybeater.

10 Responses to “Santa Rosa to test two companies’ parking meters”

  1. Elephant says:

    Some years ago in Petaluma, they determined that it was costing them more money to enforce parking meters than they were getting back in revenue. Now all they do is enforce the time limits.

    I stopped shopping in downtown Santa Rosa long ago because of their parking meters and the heavy-handed way they were enforced.

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  2. Dave Madigan says:

    Some of you may not realize that the Downtown property owners have been taxed to pay for the multi-level parking lots. The property owners pass that tax on to the tenants/business owners. So yes, the business owners have ALREADY paid for the parking lots.

    What do the business owners get for this? Nothing! We still have to pay for parking permits to park in the lots that we paid for!

    How many of you know that several years ago, the City Council raised the parking meter rates AND the parking tickets fines to pay for a multi-level lot at 3rd and E Streets? (The White House lot)

    The City have been taking in the extra revenue that way because the property owners and business owners said no to another tax.

    What has the city done with that extra income? Is there a multi-level lot at 3rd and E Street?????

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  3. Reality Check says:

    “The City spends more on the downtown, and does not get much tax benefit in return.”

    Is that recognition that most redevelopment money would have been spent elsewhere?

    It’s unfortunate the US can’t seem to make work what works in many cities of Europe, the pedestrian-friendly public square, surrounded by restaurants and shops. Our efforts are doomed by our unwillingness to keep them free of unsavory street vagrants. It helps that Europeans don’t expect everything to be “free”.

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  4. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @RC – meters may be a revenue source, but there is also a lot of City time spent keeping up the downtown. As you mentioned, the businesses downtown don’t want to pay for the upkeep, so it falls to the City to do it. The City spends more on the downtown, and does not get much tax benefit in return.

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  5. bear says:

    There should be no fees for services received or maintenance of streets or parking garages?

    So tax-resisting welfare recipients can continue to receive the municipal benefits they regard as owed to them?

    Let’s sell off all the parking garages and see how downtown business likes that.

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  6. Lets be Reasonable says:

    If the City were to not have parking meters, then workers would park in the spots all day, and there wouldn’t be any parking for shoppers.

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  7. Grapevines says:

    I’d like to see a comparison study done by the city. How much does it cost to purchase, maintain, replace, and patrol the parking meters. Compare that to the amount of revenue they generate in fee’s and tickets.

    Anyone want to bet that these two figures are not all that far off? Especially when one throws in the sick leave/vacation time/retirement obligations of the people we have to hire to babysit the parking meters.

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  8. Reality Check says:

    If the public wants to provide free parking to downtown merchants on public property–they don’t do it for Safeway, Costco or Olivers–OK. But we’d still need meter maids issuing tickets to keep employees and others from parking all day in the same spot, denying the spaces to shoppers.

    If we could get merchants to form a downtown LID to pay for the cost of enforcing parking limits, we wouldn’t need meters. Let me know when downtown merchants are ready to vote for that! Until that (unlikely) day, we are stuck with meters. It’s unfortunate the city has turned them into a revenue source, but that’s not surprising.

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  9. Emerson Burkett says:

    The Hammer;
    Well, it is all about “Revenue Gathering”. The City does not GAF about the merchants or the citizens.

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  10. The Hammer says:

    There shouldn’t be a parking fee to shop downtown. This would save on meter costs, metermaids, etc. Let the downtown businesses pay the costs associated with their customers parking. It never made sense to me to charge the customer to park when shopping. After all he’s parking to spend money in the businesses downtown.

    I’d like to know who the idiot was that had the idea to put in the existing meter system. This guy needs to be fired!

    It also continues to amaze me how easily the city can spend the taxpayers’ monies.

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