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Downtown Santa Monica Structures Get New Payment System, Elevators

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and MarkHarding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors BureauWhen one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.

By Jason Islas
Lookout reporter

March 11 2014 -- When Downtown Santa Monica’s Parking Structure #6 re-opened in December to much fanfare, it was a visible improvement over the building’s squat predecessor.
It nearly doubled the number of parking spaces on 2nd Street near Broadway, its fanciful facade catches the eye, there are dozens of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and bike racks and the roof affords visitors a sweeping view of the bay.

One of the major features, however, isn’t quite as obvious, although it will save more than a $1 million a year in lost parking revenue.

Structure #6 will be the City’s first parking structure to get a new Parking Access and Revenue Control System (PARCS).

In January, the City Council allocated more than $3 million to have the system installed in the nine Downtown parking structures, the Main Library parking lot and the Civic Center parking structure.

It will replace the current PARCS system, which is not user friendly, results in slow transactions for patrons and has broken down on multiple occasions, most recently on New Year’s Eve, according to City officials.

“The core infrastructure of the (parking) system is 13 years old,” said Don Patterson, Santa Monica’s Assistant Director of Finance. “The average life expectancy is seven to 10 years.”

As a result, the current parking system is losing anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000 a month in revenues in structures across the city, he said.

It also “creates a negative impression on people,” Patterson said. “You can have a really nice day and, if it took you a half hour to get out of the parking structure, you are going to be frustrated.”

The new system, which has license plate recognition software, will also help curb illegal tailgating when one car follows closely behind another in order to exit without paying.
There are “several dozen people a day” who tailgate when they leave each of the Downtown parking structures, Patterson said, costing the City $1.2 million in lost revenue a year.

Parking Structures #2, #4 and #5 will also be getting new elevators, officials said.
Construction is scheduled to begin early this summer and should be completed by summer 2015, said City Architect Miriam Mulder.

She added that the project will be done in phases so that none of the structures will have to close.

“We are putting together project estimates, and will know more as the drawings and scope are completed,” she said.

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