Photo courtesy of the City of San Fernando

More Ways to Pay — New “smart” parking meters that accept coins or credit cards are being installed in the City of San Fernando.

Residents and visitors to the City of San Fernando who park in metered spaces will soon be seeing new equipment to take their payment.

 More than 300 “smart” meters that are both automated and digital are going to be installed throughout the city. These meters are able to accept payment by bank or credit card as well as by loose change.

The rate for parking at the meter is 25-cents per 12 minutes. If you pay the meter with quarters, you can dictate how long you can legally park in the space. If you use a card, the minimum you are charged is $1.00, and that is good for 48 minutes. You can continue to add time on the meter, with either change or a card.

A pilot program using 30 such meters that were installed back in July 2017 was deemed successful, and City officials will now go forward and install another 70 new meters throughout the San Fernando Civic Center area to complete Phase One of the replacements, Yazden Emrani, PE, City Engineer and Director of Public Works, said.

“There are 389 [meter] spots in the city, and we plan to replace them all,” Emrani said, adding that Phase One — which will place meters along First Street between Maclay Avenue and Brand Boulevard, Macneil Street between First and Fourth Streets, and Third Street between Maclay Avenue and Brand Boulevard —  was expected to be completed by the end of September.

He said Phase Two, would begin in the next Fiscal Year that starts in July 2019, and replace another 102 meters around the San Fernando Mall from San Fernando Road between Chatsworth Street and San Fernando Mission Boulevard, Kittridge Street between San Fernando Road and Truman Street, Brand Boulevard between San Fernando Road and Pico Street, Chatsworth Drive between San Fernando Road and Celis Street.

Phase Three would see the installation of the remaining meters on Brand Boulevard between Pico and Hollister Streets, Maclay Avenue between Celis and Pico Streets, San Fernando Road between San Fernando Mission Boulevard and Kalisher Street, starting in the Fiscal Year that begins in July 2020.

The remaining areas of the City with poles would be evaluated prior to Phase Three installation to determine if additional meters are needed to be installed. In many of these locations, such as on Pico Street between Brand Boulevard and Chatsworth Drive, near Chase Bank and the Valley Family Center, the current thinking is that there is enough adequate off-street free parking, and the meters would not generate revenues.

If a driver has a valid handicap license plate or placard visible from inside the car, the vehicle is exempt from paying the meter. 

Emrani said that even though the meters are for an hour, vehicles can continue to park in the sport as long as they pay for more time. There are “smart” phone apps that can notify people that the meter is about to expire and electronically send more money to it. But Emrani said the city’s new meters will not be programmed to connect with “smart” phones at this time.

The replacement process primarily consists of removing the current old meters and installing the new ones on the existing metal poles, Emrani said. 

According to a June 18 report presented during a City council meeting, San Fernando has seen “a steady decline in parking meter revenues over the past several years due to a number of factors” that include a lack of resources to replace broken/vandalized meters, and properly enforce parking restrictions.

In Fiscal Year 2009-2010, parking meter revenues were approximately $270,000. They had fallen to approximately $180,000 in Fiscal Year 2016-2017, the report said.

Historically, approximately 60 percent of parking meter revenues were generated from the Mall area and 35 percent from the Civic Center Courthouse area, according to the report.

“Until this year we had not offered meters with credit card service,” City Manager Alexander Meyerhoff said. “We wanted to see how the pilot program would go. And [the meters have] proven to be more convenient for residents and businesses. 

“Smart” meters are alreadyused in cities like Los Angeles, Pasadena San Diego and San Francisco. Most cities implementing the technology have experienced as much as 20 percent increase in parking meter revenues due primarily to the increased use of credit cards, the report said.

“Although it was a small sample, the results of the trial program support that assertion,” Emrani said.

The cost for 100 meters, including replacement parts and programming, is $53,070. But the success in usage of the pilot program meters — the revenue per coin transactions averaged $0.64, while credit card transactions averaged $1.83, a 285 percent jump   and with the City now standing on firmer financial ground overall to invest into the new equipment, the time was now to go ahead with replacing the older meters, Emrani said.