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City of Long Beach hits “fail” on parking meters

December 6, 2014

Well, there they go again. The city of Long Beach is replacing its fairly new parking meters with “smart meters” and sensors that will cost more than five times what they’ve got now and reap even more money, thanks to those sensors that reset meters once a car departs.

There were “discussions” held in affected communities before the city council took its vote the first Tuesday of December 2014. I attended two of these meetings in downtown Long Beach, which is having its rates raised from $1/hour to $1.50. As it stands now, there are never sufficient parking spaces for residents in the area and many visitors use garages that have pay stations.

While at the parking meetings, I suggested single pay stations per block with the NFC application for smart phones that use digital wallets. Most forward-thinking cities are implementing this type of pay-to-park; one exception being San Diego, which doesn’t have downtown meters and doesn’t seem to suffer for this lack of parking revenues.

When I posed this idea, the city said they’d already installed a few of these and they “didn’t work” because people didn’t want to walk back to their cars and affix proof of payment, something they already have to do with other pay stations throughout downtown.

In the prosperous Belmont Shore area of the city, the local parking commission asked the city to abstain from raising rates from 50¢ to 75¢ per hour for on-street parking; rather, they wanted to see rates raised in lots that would have individual parking meters like the ones on the street. The city blithely rejected this proposal, angering their largest tax base.

It was at this point I realized (actually it came to me a heck of a lot earlier but this confirmed it) that the city was going to do what it wanted and the public’s wishes be damned. All those meetings it held merely told people what had already been decided by the city; there was no room for change because the deals, pending the 8-0 blessing by the council (that likely knows nothing about the meters other than what they’ve been force-fed) wasn’t open to discussion.

The new meters will cost a bunch of money to install and to use, thanks to fees for credit card usage. They will be easily outmoded within a year or two and will have to be augmented, reprogrammed and/or replaced by newer technology that is already available but not cheap enough for the city to consider. So Long Beach is bounding into this no-man’s land – as it customarily does – without thinking of the consequences to its primary stakeholders – the people that live, work and shop in both downtown and Belmont Shore.

It’s interesting to note that 100 percent of revenues in Belmont Shore revert to the parking commission there while the money-ravenous Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA) garner 50 percent of the larcenous revenues downtown and the other half goes to the general fund.

DLBA, to those unaware, supposedly keeps downtown streets clean with their clean team and safe with downtown guides (on bicycle, foot and Segway) but, since forcing residents to pay for these “services” none of us has noted any positive difference. In fact, it’s difficult to find a guide to give advice to visitors and our streets are as filthy as ever since the city gave up any semblance of servicing sidewalks and curbsides, outside of once weekly sweeping.

It’s another travesty at 333 W Ocean by people whose sole concern is padding their own pockets at others’ expense without concern for anyone but themselves. Once again, they’re neglecting the public for their own benefit and there is nothing we can do.

By Anne Proffit

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