Santa Monica Place construction worker Frank Puente pays for his parking at parking structure eight on Monday afternoon. (photo by Brandon Wise)

DOWNTOWN — Aiming to ease congestion for commuters who use City Hall-owned parking structures Downtown, officials are planning to add additional pay stations to the structures so more customers can settle their bills before they get in their cars.

Don Patterson, City Hall’s business and revenue operations manager, said the stations would cut down on the time drivers spend waiting in their cars for cashiers to make change at the structure exits.

He said tests have shown as many as 80 percent of parking structure customers would use the pay stations if they were clearly identified.

While the Downtown structures already have pay stations, Patterson said there are too few of them, and the existing stations only accept credit cards. The added stations will accept both cash and credit cards and will be at every structure entrance, Patterson said.

The plan, which could cost as much as $800,000, would save $400,000 per year in operating costs because fewer cashiers would be needed, he said.

The new stations, which are already in place at Structure 8 on Colorado Avenue, are expected to be installed at every Downtown lot by the first quarter of 2011.

Parking permit renewal goes online

For the 25,000 residents who live on streets with preferential parking rules, life is about to get a little simpler.

Instead of paying the $15 annual renewal fee by mail or in person at City Hall, Patterson said residents will be able to renew their permits online by December.

Instead of waiting six to eight weeks for City Hall to send out a new permit, he said it should take only two weeks to get a new permit once the online system is up and running.

By mid 2011, Patterson said residents will also be able to use the online portal to print out visitor parking permits from their homes. The permits would have bar-codes printed on them so police could check them for authenticity with scanners.

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