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Laguna Beach to install ‘smart parking’ system to make it easier for drivers to find spaces

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The Laguna Beach City Council approved a contract Tuesday night to install a smart parking guidance system that will enable residents and visitors to find parking spaces from a phone application.
(File Photo)

The Laguna Beach City Council appropriated nearly $1.3 million Tuesday night to roll out a smart parking guidance system that enables residents and visitors to find parking spaces using a phone application.

New Zealand-based Frogparking will install sensors at every city-owned parking space on the street — and in lots and structures — to provide real-time information on available parking for anyone with the mobile app. Laguna aims to install 75% of the system by summertime.

Drivers will be able to search the app for available parking around the restaurant, shop, business or area of town they want to visit — and pay for that spot in advance. In parking structures, green and red lights will be installed that identify available spots.

“Say, for instance, after dinner you want to go to one of our really great coffee establishments here in town,” said Paula Faust, the city’s deputy director of public works. “You kind of panic a little bit because you can’t remember if you still have time left on the meter or if you’ve actually gone past your time. The app will send you a notification that you have 10 to 15 minutes left so it’s time to wrap things up and get back to your car.”

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The app can update with information from the sensors every eight seconds, she said.

Those without the app will still be able to use existing parking meters to pay as usual.

Frogparking will also push data directly to the city’s ticketing app, so parking enforcement officers can more easily identify violations.

City staff are excited about the app, Faust said, because it will allow Laguna to collect more data about parking occupancy rates throughout the year, as opposed to the usual annual study.

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Ocean Avenue to become entirely one-way

In other business, the council approved making Ocean Avenue entirely one-way — from Forest Avenue to the water. Right now, Ocean Avenue is only one-way from Forest to Beach Street.

The change will add 10 angled parking spaces along Ocean. The city expects to lose eight spaces as a result of intersection improvements on Coast Highway in front of Main Beach Park, so the conversion would net two spaces.

Public Works Director Shohreh Dupuis said the goal is to implement all improvements along Coast Highway between Broadway and Legion streets by summer 2020. The change will also allow for two turning lanes onto Coast Highway.

Kent Russell, who manages the properties at 224-226 Ocean Ave., said some business owners are concerned that a one-way street may mean fewer customers.

“That two-way traffic is a lot more eyes, and it also provides access to businesses that people may not go over and shop to,” Russell said.

The measure passed on a 4-0 vote; Councilwoman Toni Iseman was absent.


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