Letter: Pay-by-App Parking Only

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At the recent City Council retreat, Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf called for a parking master plan and study. I look forward to this important matter to be an agenda item and having a staff report. I am much impressed by the City’s improved parking app; it is much better than last year. Try it.  It actually works, and under Settings, one can choose to “Save Bay Location Automatically”.

For the Caltrans sidewalk project from about Moss Street to about 7th Avenue, the city staff has already reported that newly marked parking spaces will not have parking meters. The City will install a sensor identifying each space. There will be pay stations, but importantly people will be able to pay just by the parking app using a smartphone.

The sidewalks will not have lots of poles and meters. There will more room on the sidewalks and the look will be much nicer. The collection of the funds paid via the app is more efficient.

Many cities are way ahead of us. A cursory search of the internet produces “Washington, D.C., Pay-by-cell… 80 percent of PBC transactions in D.C. are initiated through the app”. An industry article advises meter makers to expect meters to be phased out over an eight-year period. How about we follow the lead of Columbia, MO, “traditional meters were removed and replaced by rectangular signs labeling parking spaces as “Pay-by-App Parking Only”?

Laguna Beach is being inundated with visitors and some cause problems. For example, by one estimate, the number of visitors to Aliso & Wood Canyon Wilderness Park trails has tripled. Increased police and fire protection is called for, but unfortunately day-trippers provide little or no tax revenue to the City. I think we ought to explore having “pay by app only” paid parking spaces in residential neighborhoods.

Wherever visitors to Laguna Beach now park for free, we should consider having them pay by app only. We certainly do not want lots of poles and meters in a residential area. But with an aesthetic paid parking system, we can consider paid parking in residential neighborhoods. If day-trippers are parking there, it would be nice for them to pay for parking. All Laguna Beach residents should have shopping permits and would be exempt.

The Parking Fund is discretionary allowing the City Council to spend for any purpose, and in the past this has included police and fire department positions, transit buses and trolley, open space purchases, etc. Laguna Beach residents should demand that the Parking Fund be used to protect the quality of life of Laguna Beach residents and to mitigate problems caused by visitors.

Gene Felder, Laguna Beach

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