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City plans to install smart parking meters downtown

Published On: Jun 21 2013 07:29:59 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 21 2013 08:37:45 PM CDT
Spokane parking meter
SPOKANE, Wash. -

It's a great feeling to pull into a parking spot downtown and there's money left in the meter, right? Well the City of Spokane wants to fix that.

Ask any driver and parking next to a meter with time left is like winning a mini-lottery.

"I get super excited, I mean I don't have to put in a couple extra quarters and if I do I'm going to leave it for the next person," Rylee Mason said.

Now, come this fall, the city plans to install new meters with sensors that zero-out the time once you pull away.

When drivers got news the city would install meters with sensors that detect when their car leaves, thus zeroing out the meter, you can guess the reaction.

"Definitely upset me and I think a lot of other people because what's the point? The money's there the money's paid why not pay it forward?" Mason said.

"If I'm going to stick my card in they can just give me a credit, then I'm fine with it," Leann Swanson said.

While this new system will put more coins in the city's purse, Spokane City Council president Ben Stuckart said its not all about the money.

"I can understand sometimes you slide in and you've got extra time on that meter and if that's not there anymore that's frustrating, but I think the benefits of the system as a whole clearly outweigh that," Stuckart said.

Stuckart expects a unanimous 'Yes' vote from the city council Monday, and that's because a new "parking fund" will be tied to the extra revenue collected through the car-sensing meters.

"All that money is going to be funneled back into downtown and the parking environment," he said. "That means street trees, that means sidewalks, that means the whole environment downtown is going to improve."

Other perks with the newer technology meters include paying by cell phone. And if you're late for a meeting the sensors can help you.

"You're looking for a place to park, you can go online and see where parking is available," Julie Happy with the City of Spokane said.

This fall 200 test parking meters with sensors will be installed. There will be a 60-day trial period once the meters are installed where the city will be taking feedback from the public on the new system. If they’re a success 800 of the new meters will be along downtown streets by the holidays.

"The main purpose of all these changes it to increase convenience, increase efficiency and then invest that money back in the environment," Stuckart said.