Feed the Meter Via Smartphone

Walnut Creek's experiment with app for parking meters begins soon on Locust Street.

Let's call this Walnut Creek parking 3.0.

The city is getting ready to roll out by the end of this month an app to allow drivers to pay by phone on about 55 parking meters along Locust Street between Civic Drive and Mount Diablo Boulevard.

No more grubbing around in your purse for quarters!

Motorists can download the application, set up an account with a third-party vendor and pay for their parking by scanning the quick response (QR) code at the meter.

The clever app will send you a text alert when the meter is about to expire. You can extend the minutes except if the parking meter is marked for, say, a two-hour limit. After two hours, you still have to move it.

The app will work for Android and Apple users, wrote Matt Huffaker, assistant to the city manager, in an email. You can compile your receipts via the app, too. The capabilities of the application are touted on this video.

"You can add more time from your phone without having to physically go to the meter," said city Communications Manager Gayle Vassar.

obiwan August 14, 2012 at 11:50 PM
The City seems to be suffering from a multiple personality disorder when it comes to parking. The purpose of the meters was SUPPOSED to be to encourage frequent turnover for short-term, errand-oriented parking - like visiting the dry cleaners or picking up a new cellphone battery at Radio Shack. People who were going to dine, browse the shops, or go to a show were SUPPOSED to park once (in the garages) and walk. Now they are making long term parking at the meters easier - you don't even have to run back to your car to feed the meter. What are they thinking? On this subject, does anyone remember the Downtown Parking Task Force? After about a year of meetings and some more money thrown at consultants, recommendations were presented to a City Council "study session" in February of 2011. Has anything been heard since? As someone who tends to be cynical about how this City is run, I suspect that the City Council's Chamber of Commerce overlords told them to bury the Task Force recommendations. The restaurant owners didn't want to see meter hours extended to 8pm, and they didn't want to lose their valet parking spots on the public street. After all, we can't honestly expect the affluent to walk, can we?
AmyWC August 15, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Wow, Obiwan, really? I think this is great -- no more stashing quarters or pestering merchants to make change so you can run out to the meter. I hardly consider two hours "long term" parking. I would think a merchant might prefer that I can extend my shopping trip instead of skipping their store because I have to run back to feed the meter. And as far as your comment about expecting the affluent to walk...I'm sorry, I don't get it. Aside from the comment just being plain snarky (I know it's quite trendy to trash people who have been successful in life), isn't the goal to make a business as accessible as possible? When I meet friends downtown for dinner, I prefer to have a valet, or have my car nearby so I'm not walking alone several blocks to a garage late at night. And I'm not even "affluent."
Wendy Hanson August 15, 2012 at 01:12 PM
I have used this in Piedmont and it's fantastic! I got stuck at the hairdresser and could add another 15 min from inside the salon. It is also a no-brainer from a business perspective for the city--no going out to empty and fix broken meters.


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