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Parking payment changes improve efficiency, safety in Santa Barbara

Parking kiosk
John Palminteri
Recent changes help drivers exit Santa Barbara parking lots easier using their credit cards in the existing machines after depositing their ticket. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Parking lot
John Palminteri
A new parking lot system is in place in Santa Barbara. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Parking lot exit
John Palminteri
A new parking lot system is in place in Santa Barbara. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Parking lot exit
John Palminteri
A new parking lot system is in place in Santa Barbara. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Parking lot image
John Palminteri
A new parking lot system is in place in Santa Barbara. (Photo: John Palminteri)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The next time you leave a downtown parking lot in Santa Barbara you may find it more efficient to have a credit card in your hand.

The ticket machines have been modified to take your credit card payment. A kiosk employee will be on hand if you want to pay cash or have a card problem.

Santa Barbara Transportation Planning and Parking Manager Rob Dayton said the change minimizes the need to handle money, a concern during the COVID-19 crisis.

The city has moved to this modification in recent weeks. The existing machines needed some technical changes, but did not have to be replaced completely.

City says it maintains 12 parking lots with a total of over 3,000 parking stalls. 

Downtown Plaza and Parking Manager Victor Garza said under routine conditions the system can get a vehicle out of the lot in under 30 seconds.

The parking lots were unstaffed when the COVID-19 crisis hit and business fell off. The slow return of people to the area, and cars in the lots, has brought back the need for staffing in the kiosks.

They have an employee there one full shift a day, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Drivers using the Victoria lot Wednesday afternoon were mostly able to go through the process on their own. The employee on duty helped a few with ticket, cash or credit card issues.

"If we have cash, our kiosketteer will hold a basket out and we can do the transaction. We are concerned about our customers getting out of the parking lot as soon as they want to get out," said Dayton.

The upgrade adds more efficiency to the system.

"Anytime we can make our customers happy and our employees safe at the same time, it's a win," said Dayton.

Some parking lots in other areas, such as the waterfront, are operated through that department and are slightly different. They have machines where you buy your ticket in advance for a specific period of time and leave the receipt on your dash.

Watch tonight on KEYT NewsChannel 3. KCOY NewsChannel 12 and KKFX Fox 11 News.

For more information on projects go to: Santa Barbara Downtown Parking

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.