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Finding a Parking Spot Downtown Has Just Gotten a Whole Lot Easier

Say hello to Parker----he may just become your new best (app) friend.

Laurel Street is a popular destination any time of the year, but during the holidays, it's even more of a hot spot for shoppers and revelers. And although downtown San Carlos isn't exactly Union Square, parking is a challenge, especially in mid-December.

Meet Parker, your new real-time parking-assist app.

The “Parker” system is a network of 100 sensors along the first three blocks of Laurel Street (from San Carlos Avenue to Olive Street). The sensors communicate via Cisco’s Free Downtown San Carlos Wi-Fi Network (ID: local-wifi) to Streetline where software shows which parking spaces are occupied and which are available.

City of San Carlos staffers Lisa Costa-Sanders, Brian Moura and Al Savay have been working with Cisco Systems and Streetline Inc. over the past few months to bring Smart Parking to Laurel Street.

Residents and visitors can download a free App at http://www.theparkerapp.com/ for Android and Apple smartphones and tablets to see where the open parking spaces are located along the first 3 blocks of Laurel Street.

A “web widget” version of the app is scheduled to be available in a few weeks. The widget will allow the City and San Carlos businesses to embed the app on their web site as well as offer residents and visitors with laptops, desktop PCs and other types of smartphones and tablets to use Parker.

While testing Parker, City Staff noted that parking availability is highest in the morning hours (Over 40 of 100 spaces open before 10:00 am) and lowest in the late afternoon (6 to 12 of 100 spaces open after 4:00 pm).

Now that the system is in place, city officials say they will monitor the trends to see if they are in consistent.

The Parker System pilot test will run for one year at no cost to the city. After one year, Parker will evaluated and that time, to determine if the program should continue and possibly expand.

City staff is also working with Cisco to identify additional applications that involve using the Cisco Free Downtown Wi-Fi Network to test using sensors to improve City services.

[Editor's note: The City of San Carlos contributed to this article.]

Bob Cancilla December 14, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Great, good idea. Now, when will somebody on the City Staff start dealing with the folks that frequently make U-Turns on Laurel Street. While doing this they are driving right over the signs painted on the street that state " No U-Turns ". Drivers have been getting away with this for years, Apparently enforcing this type of violation is considered a low priority for the City of San Carlos?
Joan S. Dentler December 14, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Good point Bob....I think when people see an open spot across the street they think it's okay to do a u-turn to get the spot. Hopefully this app will point them to a spot on the legal side of the street!
Margaret Pye January 20, 2013 at 02:34 AM
I have long believed (erroneously, I now find!) that it was illegal to make a U-turn on Laurel Street at an intersection (Olive or Cherry, for example). I recently learned that it is legal to make a U-turn at an intersection unless it is sign-posted "No U-Turn" -- it is however illegal to make a mid-block U-turn. Yes, Bob, I regularly see people making illegal, mid-block U-turns on Laurel Street. Enforcement, actually, is not up to the City of San Carlos, but (rather) the San Mateo County Sheriff -- in my experience, they are very responsive to contact asking for increased enforcement like this. Please let them know of your concern.

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