You will no longer have to fish for change when parking downtown.
Starting this week, 200 credit card-reading smart meters will replace coin operated- parking meters. The smart meters are first being installed in the Gaslamp Quarter and then to other areas downtown, said San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria.
Uptown and mid-city meters will follow, set to be installed by early next year.
When all the dust settles, about 97 percent of the city’s meters will be replaced.
As crews finish up the installations, the city will begin providing the option of payment on your cellphone through a pilot project, Gloria said.
The city’s $38 million contract for the meters was one of the former interim Mayor Todd Gloria’s projects before he left office this year.
Gloria said that since the meters are computer programmed, the city could theoretically adjust parking rates based on the time of day and the demand – or lack thereof – of parkers.
“They’re able to be programmed remotely and we could drop rates on a slow Tuesday morning when we shouldn’t be charging anyone because there is no customer demand,” he said. “These meters allow for that level of flexibility, so it’s possible you could see a lower rate because of the meters.”
The problem is that possibility to go either way and could drive up prices during peak times and special events.
Parking officials said there are currently no proposed changes to parking rates.