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Redondo Beach moves to new parking payment system at pier

Long lines. Blasting horns. Never-ending traffic jams. What were once the unfortunate hallmarks of a busy night in the parking structure at the Redondo Beach Pier could soon become history.
pier20110921__rpierparkingchange_400.jpgSix years after implementing a new parking system in lots near the pier, the Redondo Beach City Council has approved installing a simpler system.

"The current system is broken," said Pete Carmichael, the city's harbor, business and transit director. "The current situation down there is leaving customers frustrated."

Under the current system, patrons receive a ticket when they enter the pier. After their visit, they insert the ticket at pay stations scattered throughout the parking structure before returning to their vehicle. They then insert the ticket at an exit station. The paid ticket will raise the gate.

Customers often complained that the current payment system is overly complex, and the stations often malfunctioned because of the corroding salt-heavy air near the pier, Carmichael said.

Under the new system, the gates will be removed and there will be no tickets. Patrons will park their vehicles, note the parking stall number, walk to a pay station and pay for parking time. Hermosa Beach uses the same parking systems for city-owned lots, including a multilevel parking structure, near Pier Plaza.

In Redondo Beach, customers will be able to pay by cash or credit card. Payments also could be made by cellphone. The new
system will be implemented at both the pier parking structure and the plaza parking structure near the intersection of North Harbor Drive and Pacific Avenue.

The two structures provide a total of 1,300 parking spaces.

Discussions among Redondo Beach officials to implement changes to the parking system accelerated in August, after the automated ticketing system broke down shortly after a rock concert at the Brixton, leaving more than 100 vehicles trapped inside for nearly 40 minutes.

"It was an illustration of how fragile the existing system is," said Assistant City Manager Peter Grant, who called the incident "catastrophic."

The new "pay-by-space" system, which city officials say will increase business on the pier area and increase customer satisfaction, is expected to be fully operational by next summer.

Moving ahead with installing the new system was approved unanimously by the City Council on Tuesday. Mayor Mike Gin, attending to city business in Washington, D.C., was absent.

The city also will consider implementing a new fee structure to coincide with the new parking system. A proposal is expected to go before the council in a few months. Grant said it's too early to say if parking rates would be raised.

Parking in the pier currently costs 50 cents for each 20 minutes.

The new pier parking system is is expected to generate $824,000 in annual revenue for the city, up from the $541,000 it currently takes in from the existing parking system. The new system also will require parking enforcement from the Police Department, and additional revenue could come to the city by way of parking tickets. It will cost about $559,980 to remove the current parking system and install the new one.

Redondo Beach officials partnered with two parking consultants to develop the new plan and comment was solicited from a group of residents and business owners with close ties to the pier. Both the group and city officials overwhelmingly supported the new system approved by the City Council.

"We strongly feel it's going to increase revenue at restaurants," said Tony Trutanich Jr., whose father opened Tony's on the Pier in 1953. "I think the parking structure is the first and the last thing a customer at the pier experiences. They can have a steak and lobster dinner and then hit the parking structure and leave pissed off."
Redondo Beach
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