San Carlos is looking to stay smart.
After a year of testing out a guided parking program that lets motorists find spaces using a smartphone, the city of San Carlos is considering extending the contract five more years and expanding its range.
If the City Council agrees at Monday night’s meeting, the new contract with Streetline will add an extra 95 spaces for monitoring, bringing the downtown total to 213 spots along Laurel Street and San Carlos Avenue.
The “smart parking” program eliminates the need for officers to mark tires and instead lets them use a network of sensors embedded in the pavement. Once a vehicle is detected in the space, the system starts a time and alerts officers when the space remains occupied past the allowed limit. The officer will then go to the space, validate the violation and issue a citation.
The program also lets drivers use “Parker,” the mobile app by Streamline which offers real-time space availability information. Parker also has a timer function so motorists can personally track their time before it expires.
When preparation for the pilot began last fall, some residents worried that the painted space numbers on the 600 and 700 blocks of Laurel Street were a first step toward metered parking but officials insisted it will remain free.
Councilman Matt Grocott, who publicly questioned the initial program and its potential for paid parking, said now he supports more “hockey puck parking” — a reference to the embedded sensors.
“If it is in lieu of or staves off metered parking, I’m all in favor of it as long as people know that it’s there,” Grocott said.
Grocott said he looks at the program as a way to turn over parking rather than raise revenue and prefers it to the meter kiosks found in other cities like Redwood City and San Mateo.
He’s less fond of the mobile app aspect because it may encourage drivers to use their phones while behind the wheel.
The Sheriff’s Office says that since the pilot began parking enforcement staff time is better organized and has more time for other duties that previously fell to the wayside, according to Public Works Director Jay Walter’s staff report to the council.
Installing the new sensors and the Wi-Fi sensors for monitoring will cost the city a one-time activation fee of $22,325 and the new five-year agreement is $2,198 per month. The multi-year approach is 25 percent less than five single-year contracts, according to Walter.
If the council does not sign a new agreement with Streetline, the pilot expires this month.
The San Carlos City Council meets 7 p.m. Monday, June 9 at City Hall, 600 Elm St., San Carlos.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102