Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Park Pay Machines Research, June 10th


Preparing for meetings currently being organized by State Parks, with the encouragement of the California Coastal Commission, I decided to do some investigation.

In the appeal materials submitted by State Parks to the Coastal Commission for the April 15th public hearing,  the following information was provided:

"In the short time since CSP filed its original application, the available technology now employed has rapidly evolved and improved. Whereas the traditional fee collection stations were limited to a heavy metal cylinder planted in the ground, CSP now installs electronic self-pay stations or Automated Pay Parking Machines (APPM) at many of its busier parks, even in remote areas with limited infrastructure. APPMs are solar powered units which have Wi-Fi connectivity to allow for the purchase of day use access through the use of cash, debit, credit, and Pay Pass options. They are fully programmable, and can be modified to meet daily needs, allow for retrieval of data, and thus have the potential to provide for a more flexible and efficient rate schedule. Users can add time using their smart phones in locations where cell phone service is available, and CSP can alternate rate schedules to ensure maximum access is promoted.

Each APPM will have four bollards and installed to protect the machine, as well as, ADA access, and
signage to assist visitors with “Self-Pay” instructions. Signage is located on 6’ high x 2” diameter breakaway galvanized pole secured and anchored with concrete. Signage typically measures no more than 28” in width and no more than 84” above finished grade.

With the use of APPMs CSP can offer a rate structure that can be set to accept both flat rate and hourly options from the visitor. The use of the machines and a flexible and reasonable rate structure effectively manages high demand parking areas by increasing turn-over allowing for an increase in access for all visitors to these unique coastal areas.

Initially CSP proposes identical rates at each of the 14 locations, using the following general rate

Flat all-day rate $8
Hourly Up to $3
15 minute “surf-check”/sunset spaces Free

CSP will provide a 15 minute “surf-check” or sunset window for free at all times. It should also be noted, if patrons pay for a flat all-day pass, it will be good for all day use areas within the Sonoma-Mendocino Coast District for that calendar day."

There are two state parks in our area where State Parks has placed APMs of the kind described above. They are at Olompali State Park and China Camp State Park.  It appears that one is solar-powered, and the remainder are powered by underground cable.  

They are produced by a Petaluma company (Ventek International), whose representative I met yesterday.  Raymond Lucas, Director of Client Services, indicated that his machines could also transmit credit card transactions via satellite phones in areas where little cell phone capacity exists.   Issuing permits for a variety of park services beyond parking, one in China Camp allowed for charges for trail use, camping, and equestrian access.

He said that, while they are not now capable of providing parking lot use data remotely, they could be programmed to do so.  

Their machines are currently operating in Point Reyes National Seashore and Sequoia National Forest, as well as hundreds of other national, state and regional parks.