Long Beach Lets Drivers Park for Free (Kinda)

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Drivers parking in downtown Long Beach, the downtown outskirts, and the LB neighborhood of Belmont Shore will no longer have to dig for change: the city is in the midst of installing nearly 1,700 digital meters that accept credit and debit cards.

Most Angelenos know how smart meters—around for years—have changed life for the better. The bad news for parkers in Long Beach is that the new digital meters correspond with an increase in parking rates. We’re not talking anything crazy, though—hourly rates in downtown are now $1.50 an hour, up 50 cents. They rise 50 cents to a buck in the downtown periphery and are up a quarter to 75 cents in Belmont Shore.

If you’re thinking those parking prices are a steal, wait until you hear about Long Beach’s “First Five Free” program. Drivers can park for free if they’re in and out in five minutes. So you better throw that dry cleaning on the counter and skeedaddle.