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Council approves smart parking technology

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Laguna Beach officials have turned to technology to help solve the city’s parking problems.

The City Council on Tuesday approved investing in a parking guidance system that would direct motorists to open parking spaces. The nearly $1.3 million system is expected to be operational by summer. A marketing consultant will be hired to make the public aware of the technology. 

“This will help us achieve the 85 percent occupancy the city wants,” said Paula Faust, Deputy Director of Public Works. “And it will help peripheral parking lots if people see no spaces on the app.”

The staff recommended hiring Frogparking, although it did not submit the lowest of the four bids culled from the original seven for the job. It did, however, score the highest in evaluations. 

Among the technological solutions the company provided that outweighed the costs:

--Frogparking will install in-ground sensors in all on- and off-street parking lots and structures to assess available spaces

--The web/mobile app will relay real-time available parking anywhere in the city and pay for it

Council approves parking

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Frogparking will implement new parking guidance system

--The app will act as a “transportation hub,” connecting drivers with Laguna’s Trolley Tracker and other modes of transportation

--Folks out on the town will get an alert when their meter time is getting short

Resident Dana Raber was not optimistic about the usefulness of information that a space is available on Forest Avenue, while the driver is still in Laguna Canyon.

“By the time you get there, the space is already occupied,” said Raber. 

However, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow declared he loved the concept, although he did question Faust on how Public Works would handle future technology improvements.

Faust gave her opinion that the sensor-based system is solid now and going forward. 

The system also will benefit parking enforcement officers, according to Faust. Data will be sent directly to the city.

City Manager John Pietig was authorized to execute a five-year contract with Frogparking in the amount of $1,086,842 for implementation of the system and annual maintenance expenses of $94,087 and to approve a contingency fund not to exceed $59,000. 

The council also directed Pietig to appropriate $1.3 million for the first year of the contract, contingency, marketing and outreach services from the available Parking Fund balance.