Glitchy meters sent undue parking tickets

A glitch found in some new downtown Walnut Creek parking meters that left at least 100 drivers with unwarranted parking tickets has been fixed, city officials said.

Sensors near the new “smart meters” installed downtown last year are designed to wirelessly signal to the meter when a vehicle enters and leaves a parking spot, city officials said.

But some of the sensors were too sensitive, causing them to erroneously reset and prompting parking enforcement officers to issue tickets, according to Matt Huffaker, assistant to the City Manager.

Huffaker said about 100 drivers reported getting an unwarranted parking citation in some downtown areas due to the glitch over a several-month period, but that the reports of errors stopped in July after the city fixed the meters.

He noted that the 100 reports were out of about 1 million meter payments, meaning the problem only affected less than .01 percent of payments.

Tickets were waived for all motorists who appealed their citations, he said.

Overall, Huffaker said, the new meters have actually improved conditions for motorists searching for parking spots downtown.

The meters’ wireless technology allows drivers to search for open parking spots using a free parking app called ParkMe.

It’s also made keeping track of parking easier for city staff, who can now look up meter payments remotely rather than having to check the meter in person, Huffaker said.