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Mobile alternative to metered parking expands into Westwood

ParkMobile allows drivers to make parking reservations, pay for parking and extend parking times at all metered parking spaces in Westwood on their phones. (Amy Dixon/Photo editor)

By Rafael Franco

Nov. 5, 2018 11:46 p.m.

Drivers in Westwood now can pay for metered street parking on their smartphones through the ParkMobile app.

ParkMobile announced its expansion into Westwood in late October. The app allows drivers to make parking reservations, pay for parking and extend parking times at all metered parking spaces in Westwood on their phones.

Parking payments on ParkMobile can be made by entering the zone number of the parking space, which in Westwood can be found on a sticker attached to parking meters. Each transaction for Westwood parking requires an additional fee of 25 cents along with the original parking cost.

Jeff Perkins, chief marketing officer for the app, said ParkMobile has been working with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation for some time in other parts of Los Angeles, including Hollywood and downtown.

Oliver Hou, transportation planner for LADOT, said he thinks the app will help add more efficient parking options to Westwood. He added that ParkMobile has helped drivers avoid getting citations for expired meters in other parts of Los Angeles.

“It’s still early, but we are hoping that more and more people will get a share. We’re going to monitor how this works,” Hou said. “We’re always looking for ways to improve people’s parking experience.”

Donald Shoup, a distinguished professor in the UCLA Department of Urban Planning, said he thinks ParkMobile will be convenient for drivers, though he recommends the app eliminate the additional 25-cent fee to encourage people to use it. He added the program could help Westwood improve parking enforcement because the app requires drivers to enter their vehicles’ license plate numbers upon registering.

“Using license plate numbers to pay for parking is the way the whole world is going because it’s so much easier to enforce that the plates have paid for parking. Getting curbed parking in the village is important because it’s the parking that everyone sees,” Shoup said. “If it’s all full, then people will say that there is a parking problem in Westwood.”

Andrew Thomas, executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association, said ParkMobile could help create a better parking experience for visitors in Westwood.

“Right now, people have their preferred parking spaces, and most of the time that is at a meter occupancy,” Thomas said. “If they can pay for parking in advance or on their phone and improve their experience, that makes them more likely to come back to Westwood.”

Julie Mireles, a fourth-year Spanish student, said she has used the app before in other cities, including New Orleans. She added she also thinks the app would have been useful to have in Westwood when she received a ticket for going overtime on street parking.

“I looked (for a parking space) for over an hour and ended up having to walk two miles,” Mireles said. “When I came back I had a parking ticket.”

Emma Janibekyan, a third-year human biology and society student, said the app could be useful for drivers who are short on time. She added that going to a kiosk or parking meter can be time-consuming.

“Even the smallest amount of time that I save is important,” Janibekyan said, “With the app, if you’re in a rush, you can pay while you’re on your way.”

Perkins said he thinks drivers will come to prefer using ParkMobile over parking meters as they learn about the app. He added he thinks drivers will stop paying by meter altogether as they begin using the app.

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Rafael Franco
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