LA
05/21/2012 05:13 pm ET Updated May 21, 2012

Parking In Downtown LA: LA Express Park Will Alter Parking Rates Based On Demand (VIDEOS)

Finding parking in downtown LA is about to turn into a game of strategy. If you park in the right place, at the right time, you could pay $1 an hour. If you park in the wrong place, at the wrong time, you could pay up to $6.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has implemented ground sensors in 6,000 parking meter spots and 7,500 city-owned parking lot spaces, Bruce Gillman, LADOT Communications Director, told The Huffington Post. The ground sensors will monitor traffic levels and send that information to eight new traffic signs in downtown, as well as to smartphone apps and to the LADOT.

Parking fees will increase as much as 50 percent, to $6 an hour, during high-demand hours and decrease to as low as $1 during low-demand hours. The signs and apps are effective now, and the supply-and-demand pilot program will be effective June 4 and will last a year.

The idea behind the program is that if people know when parking demand is high, they may changes plans, carpool, bicycle or use public transportation, Gillman told HuffPost. Also, the higher prices during peak hours will free up spaces and reduce pollution and congestion caused by drivers circling blocks for a parking spot, as explained in the videos above and below.

The same technology was installed in Santa Monica but includes an automatic meter clearing when a car leaves a spot and physically prohibits the re-feeding of meters. Gillman told HuffPost that LADOT has decided not to implement those unpopular measures in downtown LA. You are, however, still subject to receiving a ticket for violating posted limits by re-feeding a meter, Gillman said.

The Parker app will tell drivers where downtown spots are open and at what price (and it also works for parts of Hollywood and Studio City). The ParkMobile app also allows drivers to pay for their parking by phone.

The program, called LA Express Park, was developed by Xerox and is being funded by $15 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation and $3.5 million in city funds, according to a press release. The meter rates, which currently run from $1 to $4 an hour, will rise and fall no more than 50%.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa commented about why downtown, in particular, needs this update. "Downtown is the heart and soul of Los Angeles, and has experienced significant growth over the last decade," he says in the video below. "LA ExpressPark's dynamic system will make parking in downtown easier, faster, and smarter for all Angelenos."

CONVERSATIONS