New parking meter system could alleviate parking shortage in downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a new parking system in downtown Los Angeles that will turn finding a parking spot into a game of strategy, revolutionizing the way traffic density and parking shortages have shaped the city's infrastructure. LA Express Park could increase open space and alleviate congestion, adding value to real estate in Los Angeles located on streets with heavy traffic. Underground sensors will be installed on busy city streets that measure traffic volume and transmit the data to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), smartphone applications and eight new traffic signs. During peak hours of traffic, fees will increase by as much as 50 percent, but fees for parking spots will decrease to as low as $1 during off hours.

"Downtown Los Angeles is one of the largest employers in the region. Coupled with its emerging reputation as the sports and entertainment hub of Los Angeles, it is the ideal location to launch the LA Express Park program," Councilwoman Jan Perry told LA Express Park. "New meters, new technology, and flexible payment methods afford greater ease and convenience in parking and visiting our dynamic downtown." LADOT Communications Director Bruce Gillman told the Huffington Post that the program is designed to encourage alternative transportation when traffic volume is high. Charging premium prices during peak hours will also help with congestion by reducing the number of people driving in circles looking for a parking spot.

A study conducted by the International Right of Way Association found that property values decreased in neighborhoods with diminished parking resources. Research concluded that parking influences real estate value, and is a vital property attribute that drives decisions to purchase, renovate or develop real estate in areas with high traffic. According to the study's findings, it becomes difficult to attract tenants to rental properties with less than one parking space per 1,000 square feet of building area.

LA Express Park meters will accept debit and credit cards, and 6,000 new meters will be installed in a 4.5 square mile area of downtown Los Angeles. Drivers will be able to see real-time parking information via smartphone applications that also allow them to add time to meters without having to walk back to the parking spot. Reduced parking frustration may encourage more visitors to frequent local stores and restaurants in the most congested areas of downtown, which could provide a boost to the local economy.