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Parking plan would extend hours

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Parking in downtown San Mateo could get much easier if the City Council approves a plan to extend hours in the business district.

Vince Hansen, facilities manager with the Department of Public Works, said businesses and residents have complained for years about the two-hour time limit.

“We want this to be more user-friendly and convenient,” he said. “The goal is to get people to come to downtown San Mateo and have a pleasant and convenient parking experience.”

The proposed changes, which are expected to be brought before City Council in May, Hansen said, will increase the time limit from two hours to four hours at metered spots. Pricing will remain the same for the first two hours but will increase in hours three and four.

It currently costs 50 cents each hour to park in San Mateo. It will become $1 for hours three and four if the resolution is approved.

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Kelly Mitter, executive director of the Downtown San Mateo Association, said the changes are more of a customer service move rather than a revenue-generator.

“The biggest complaint about parking is the ticketing,” he said. “The last thing you want is to come downtown for lunch, then walk a block over to a retail store and have to run back to feed the meter.”

Mitter said he, too, has been ticketed while attending meetings with members of the association.

“We’re not immune,” he said. “There have been many meetings I’m in the middle of and suddenly I remember I’m at my limit.”

A parking ticket is $35, but Mitter said many visitors to the downtown area would like to pay more to park then get a parking ticket.

Hansen said changing time lengths and increasing prices will also provide the city the opportunity to switch out the old meters that accept only coins to install new multispot parking kiosks that will allow visitors to pay with credit or debit cards.

The multislot kiosk will limit the number of meters on the street.

There are roughly 1,100 metered spots in the San Mateo business district, along with four parking garages and three additional lots, Hansen said.

City officials also hope to clear paths to introduce new technology such as up-to-the-minute parking availability and pay-by-phone, Hansen said.

Downtown spaces

Details of San Mateo’s parking availability:

1,100 Parking meters
4 Parking garages
3 Parking lots
50 cents Per hour to park
2 Hour time limit
$1 For hours three and four

Source: City of San Mateo

All: Mike Koozmin/Special to The Examiner
Finding a spot: A new proposal would increase the limit for using parking meters from two hours to four hours. The rates would rise after the first two hours.

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