LAFAYETTE -- People wishing to park their cars in certain areas of Lafayette will soon be able to pay with credit cards as well as with coins.
Officials this week accepted a plan pitched by police Chief Eric Christensen that will add credit card capable meters to the city's parking meter supply. The city began testing 13 such meters in front of the Lafayette Mercantile last year.
As part of the changes approved Monday, residents will be able to use their credit cards at new meters near the BART station and in certain spaces on Mount Diablo Boulevard between Dewing Avenue and Moraga Road. The city is also removing the pay-by-space meters on Plaza Way and replacing them with standard meters. Parking rates, however, aren't changing.
Under Chief Christensen's plan, the city will replace the slot-box parking system it uses for 83 parking spaces surrounding the BART station with meters that accept credit cards or coins.
The move, the chief explained, will eliminate the need for parking officers to collect money from the slot-boxes. The meters should also reduce the number of appeals from people claiming they placed their money in the wrong slot.
The new BART area credit card meters also make financial sense. Because the parking fee at those spaces is $5 per day, the city expects to collect enough money to make up for the high service fees banks charge for processing credit card payments.
Christensen said his department also plans to replace some downtown meters that receive a lot of activity with ones that can accept credit cards as a service, and will look at other areas where they could be useful.
And in a nod to sustainability, the old downtown meters will be recycled and will replace pay-by-space meters on Plaza Way the chief has also described as "problematic."
"This is adding a service for the people who use the spaces and making it financially feasible for the city," Christensen said about the proposal.
He also assured city leaders that the new meters are secure and retain no memory. If someone were to steal a meter, he explained, they could not retrieve data. For those who still have concerns, coins can be used instead of credit cards.
The meter replacements are estimated to cost a total of $90,186. The city allocated $200,000 for meter replacement for this fiscal year. It received $171,783 in revenue from 289 metered and slot-box spaces last fiscal year.
Christensen expects the meter installations and replacements to be completed by the end of April.