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Downtown L.A. parking fees to rise, fall with demand

Los Angeles officials will unveil a new program Monday to increase downtown parking fees by as much as 50% to $6 an hour in the busiest periods at curbside spaces and city-owned lots, a strategy intended to reduce peak parking demand and congestion caused by drivers circling blocks looking for an open space.

Called LA ExpressPark, the yearlong pilot project will cover 4.5 square miles. It will redesign the way meter prices are set for more than 500,000 people who work or shop each day in the city’s center. In less busy periods, current $1-an-hour minimum fees could drop to as low at 50 cents an hour. Officials say they don't yet know how the change will affect city parking revenues.    

The program will employ wireless pavement sensors and other technology to measure demand at 6,000 sidewalk meters and 7,500 off-street spaces. Officials plan to use that information to adjust the cost of meters based on demand at different times throughout the day.

“Parking rates in the project zone will be adjusted by LADOT according to demand in 4 to 6 week increments as necessary; when demand is high parking rates will increase and when it is low rates will drop,” according to a draft news release from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

Officials have said that meter rates, which currently range from $1 to $4 an hour, will be adjusted to rise or fall no more than 50%. The project is being funded with $15 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation and $3.5 million in city funds, officials said.

Motorists will also now be able to use the Internet and cellphones to find open spaces and use their phones to put extra money in their meters, which could cut down on frantic runs back to their car during lunch.

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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