MARTINEZ -- The hourly rate for long-term parking downtown will double to 50 cents in the fall.
The City Council agreed Wednesday to raise the rate for 10-hour parking spaces and buy 165 credit card-enabled, single-space parking meters.
The city plans to install the new meters near the courts along Willow, Mellus, Pine and Court streets to accommodate jurors. The city ended the long-standing, informal practice of free juror parking in May.
The council approved drawing $85,750 for the meters plus $4,250 for an inventory of spare parts from the parking fund. Revenue from the parking meters, a portion of parking ticket fines, parking permit fees and property taxes collected from properties in the parking district are deposited in the parking fund, which holds $808,713.
Martinez also expects to pay about $1,184 per month to cover the credit card transaction fees, wireless access and other costs.
Councilman Mark Ross, a strong supporter of expanding use of the new technology, wondered whether shoppers will curtail their time downtown because they don't have enough quarters to keep feeding the meter.
"In this almost paperless age, it's really an economic disadvantage, I think, to not have these meters and to not have them prevalent in the downtown," he said.
With an influx of additional jurors to Martinez due to Contra Costa County Superior Court closures, the city projects an annual increase of $96,140 in parking meter revenue at the new 50-cent hourly rate for the long-term spaces.
Currently, Martinez charges 50 cents per hour for the two-hour and four-hour parking spaces, but city staff has recommended raising that rate to 75 cents. On Wednesday, council members agreed to amend the fee ordinance to establish a maximum hourly meter rate of $1, giving them room to raise the fees in the future.
"I think it kind of signals that rates may be changing, that we're still at the lower end of what other communities charge," Councilwoman Lara DeLaney said.
Walnut Creek and Lafayette charge $1 per hour. Concord, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill and Antioch provide free parking.
In May 2012, Martinez installed 62 credit-card-enabled parking meters along Main Street, from Castro to Court streets, for a three-month trial.
Although visitors have been slow to embrace the meters over the past year, city leaders believe this technology is the wave of the future. The average cash transaction is 38 cents, while people using credit or debit cards spend 83 cents on average, according to data from the city.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.