Thursday, June 14, 2012

La Mesa "Smart Meters" Rob Public of Payed Time

Ladona Harvey yesterday reported a story on "smart" parking meters in Santa Monica and Northern California. Unfortunately, she did not realize that this travesty has already arrived in San Diego. La Mesa's downtown is already populated with "smart" meters (pictured above) in addition to attempts to strong arm businesses into paying for "property-based business improvement district" (PBID) fees via property tax assessments. The entire operation is irrational as the "smart" parking meters drive away business patrons to enrich the city, pay political cronies "management" fee and pad the resumes of local bureaucrats.

Ladona's coverage of the issue was based on a New York Times report that Santa Monica, California will install "smart" parking meters in an effort to raise additional fees and fines. The meters reset time rented to zero as soon as a car leaves the spot based upon input from a pressure or magnetic ground sensor. The "smart" meters call police when time expires and in some instances additional time cannot be added to the meter. In New York, the "smart" meters are being developed to dynamically manage the pricing of parking spots. San Francisco and Los Angeles are also pursuing these tactics to rob the public of payed-meter rent. 
..critics, including residents and visitors from near and far, say the tactic appears to be simply a way to squeeze more money out of the parking meters.

“What we want to be doing is encouraging people who come here for hours at a time to park further away in a lot, which may even be less money, and leave these spaces for those who are here for just a short time,” said Donald Patterson, the assistant director of finance for the city, who is overseeing the project. “This isn’t about revenue. It’s about making the parking system more efficient.”

The city does expect that the new system will bring in an additional $1.7 million in revenue, but officials say the money will be used to pay for the meters and credit card fees over the next three years. Mr. Patterson said that since the new meters have been installed, parking tickets in the area have decreased.
But Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of “The High Cost of Free Parking,” sees Santa Monica’s plan as a pale imitation of the more ambitious plans in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“I don’t see how this increases turnover — it just makes sure they get everyone to pay and they know how much they are getting,” said Professor Shoup, who is widely considered the intelligent-parking guru. “Anytime someone says something isn’t about money, it’s about money.”

The article does not point out that parking tickets in the surrounding area go up where ever the meters are installed. In Hermosa Beach:
..the city's new elected treasurer, David Cohn said the city did not have a reliable system of auditing revenue from each of the city's 1,600 parking meters..

The city collected about $1.7 million in revenue from parking meters last fiscal year and about $2.2 million in court and parking fines.
Similarly, fellow SLOBs member Liberator Today's Proof is reporting that the Road to Serfdom Includes the GW Bridge. In the expose, the WSJ is citing a New York police tactic of fining commuters for ride sharing over the George Washington bridge. Drivers are being fined for "picking up" strangers to save $6 and use the car pool lane. The justification is that someone might get murdered, although no such reported crime has been associated with the frugal drivers or passengers.

Update La Mesa, 12:06 am: A randomly stop at the "smart" meters revealed one was down to one minute remaining.After adding a dime to see if time would be added, it was as you can see in these photos.

The owner of the vehicle arrived and was forced to call and report an error on the not-so "smart" meter to the number listed. He had seen me add the money but had just added 40 minutes at 11:40 am.

My arrival at the not-so "smart" meter and photographs had occurred at 12:06 pm. The first photo at 12:06:29 pm as indicated by the photo name. The second photo was taken at 12:06:59 pm.

The title of this post from a couple hours ago has proven accurate...the man had been robbed by the meter!


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