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Santa Rosa to test new downtown parking meters

By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa is gearing up to take a couple of parking meters for a test drive this week.

The city is set to roll out two new styles of single-space parking meters in the 600 block of 4th Street downtown to help determine which is the best fit for downtown.

The month-long pilot project, prompted by a petition from downtown merchants critical of the paper-based parking kiosks, is designed to see which units the public prefers and which work best with the city’s internal systems.

Chuck Jones, maintenance worker with the city of Santa Rosa left, and Panya Lim, product support engineer with IPS Group, Inc., install a new type of parking meter to be tested along Fourth Street in Santa Rosa on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013. (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat)

Chuck Jones, maintenance worker with the city of Santa Rosa left, and Panya Lim, product support engineer with IPS Group, Inc., install a new type of parking meter to be tested along Fourth Street in Santa Rosa on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013. (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat)

Two rival parking meter manufacturers — IPS Group of San Diego and Duncan Solutions of Milwaukee — submitted bids to the city that were very similar, prompting the city to stage the parking meter face-off.

“We really thought it was necessary to see the equipment in operation and let the public use it so we can make sure we make the best choice,” said Kim Nadeau, the city’s parking coordinator.

Twenty meters from each company were installed last week but remain covered with plastic bags until tests can be completed allowing the units to go live, probably on Wednesday, Nadeau said.

Most are installed side-by-side in two-meter housings, allowing their features to be easily compared.

The units are very similar.

Both accept credit and debit cards and coins. Both have digital screens displaying how much time remains. Both are solar powered. And both flash to alert meter readers when the time is expired.

There are differences, though.

The Duncan Solutions meters have a curved top, reminiscent of the classic parking meters and other single-space meters installed in other parts of the downtown.

The IPS meters have a more modern look, sporting a diamond-shaped head.

Another difference is in the system used to detect whether a vehicle is in a parking space.

The Duncan system has a radar-based sensor located on the pole. The IPS system uses a hockey-puck-sized magnetic sensor embedded in the ground.

Both detect when a vehicle is present in the space, information that can be used to wirelessly alert an enforcement officer when the time has elapsed, or to zero-out the meter after a car leaves.

The city is planning to use the sensors to zero-out some of the meters during the pilot project, which will mean no more freebies for people lucky enough to pull into a space with time left on the meter.

But the city is not planning to “push” that data out to enforcement officers just yet, although that is possible in the future, Nadeau said.

Another difference in the new meters is their height. At 48-inches, they are nine inches shorter than other single-space meters in the city. The lower height is to accommodate people with disabilities so they can reach them from a wheelchair, Nadeau said.

Even though many disabled drivers are entitled to free parking under state law, some may not have the required placard, Nadeau said.

Cities like San Francisco and Sacramento are installing the meters at the lower height for the same reason, she said. The city plans to phase in new meters at the lower height in the future, she said.

“It may become more common in the not-too-distant future to see these lower heights for single-space parking meters throughout the state,” she said.

The city will have parking staff on hand this week to help people with questions about the meters. There also will be survey forms in businesses and on the city’s website asking for feedback from the public.

The five existing parking kiosks, which dispense tickets to be displayed inside vehicles, will be removed and reused in other parts of the downtown.





9 Responses to “Santa Rosa to test new downtown parking meters”

  1. Liz says:

    Yep Gravevines so true and so sad indeed!

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. James Bennett says:

    I know what happened to Santa Rosa.

    Look at the date we joined ICLEI.

    I KNOW I’m a broken record, but THAT’S what is goin’ on.

    When we moved here 15 years ago, it wasn’t like this.

    I’ve said it before;
    This place geographically, demographically and agriculturally has it goin’ on, one of the most desireable places on Earth.
    Close to one of the best cities on Earth.

    We should be more than holding our own right now, even in this economy.

    Same cabal sabotaging our economy is doing so with OUR community.

    How?

    Well, you know what I’ll say.

    138 ICLEI Charters quit IN THE LAST 18 MONTHS!

    I’m not alone in recognizing the importance of cutting out this cancer.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Elephant says:

    I stopped shopping in downtown Santa Rosa long ago over the heavy-handed enforcement of their parking meters.

    Years ago, the City of Petaluma determined that the overall cost of enforcing parking meters and collecting the money was more than they were taking in. Now all they do is enforce the time limits of the parking spaces.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. Grapevines says:

    Liz says:

    “Sad to see this city go down the drain.
    What happened to the beautiful city I grew up in? Now we have dead redwood trees on the freeway, weeds everywhere, many vacant shops and wasted money on redo after redo on ideas that fail.”

    Well Liz what happened is jerks the like of our local rep Noreen Evans come in with ultra-liberal ideas and look where all the money goes nowadays.

    Road repair? Only to paint bicycle lanes everywhere. Oh don’t forget the $800,000 spent on PLANNING ONLY the bicycle bridge over 101.

    Bus routes? Heck no, we gotta build the DUMB TRAIN and pay the director $750 A DAY and the head accountant $500 A DAY and it’s not even running or collecting fares yet.

    This goes on and on, and for some reason, they keep electing these fools thinking they will get different results.

    Go ask Captain Underpants what happened here, if you can get past his handlers who are saying that “It’s all right, he can do his job!”

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  5. James Bennett says:

    So many ways to screw small business…

    so little time.

    Parking is a very powerful tool that can be used to manipulate the free market.

    They probably used a different ICLEI parking consultant this time tp appease the serfs, er, merchants.

    If I were them, I’d be pissed.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  6. Emerson Burkett says:

    Yes, all in the name of Revenue Gathering. They even “zero out” when a vehicle pulls away; giving the City even more revenue.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  7. Liz says:

    Well how much money is the city going to waist on downtown parking meters??? They have changed the meters downtown now what? 3 times in the past 5 or so years.
    What a waist of money.
    Sad to see this city go down the drain.
    What happened to the beautiful city I grew up in? Now we have dead redwood trees on the freeway, weeds everywhere, many vacant shops and wasted money on redo after redo on ideas that fail.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  8. Grapevines says:

    Now how much time has to expire till the darn thing has either it’s little radar blocked or a chewing gum wrapper goes over the hockey-puck-sized magnetic sensor and the meter zero’s out the time as if the vehicle has left.

    Only the cars still sitting there, with the time paid for but little solar powered meter said no quarter, no parking without getting the ticket. And you know the meter maid will be there 2 minutes later and ding them.

    I predict less than one day, anyone else want to guess?

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  9. Steveguy says:

    They are testing for Fine Revenue.

    They love the fine revenue.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

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