Parking in Downtown LA ain't what it used to be. Forget one rate fits all spots, that's so last year. Thanks to new smart parking meters, the City of Los Angeles can change the parking rate hour to hour. It's called LA Express Park; kind of like value pricing.
The most popular parking spaces are up near Bunker Hill. Park there in the afternoon and you'll pay $6 an hour for the privilege. The reason for the dynamic pricing is to improve traffic flow downtown and actually make finding parking easier. (Again, not all of us are willing to pay $4, $5 or $6 an hour to park!) I talked to Peer Ghent (yes, that's his real name) of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation about those outrageous rates. He says the most recent rate adjustment actually brought overall rates down 11%. There are 6,000 street parking meters, 7,500 parking lot spaces and the rates range from .50 cents an hour to $6. Actually he points only a dozen meters charge that much. The goal is to fill the city's parking spaces to 90% occupancy, ensuring when you drive downtown, you'll find a parking space, somewhere. But here's the way to find the spot you what, where you want it and at the best rate available.
Check out www.LAExpressPark.org There are sensors glued to the street at each parking meter. Those sensors tell the city if you've stayed beyond your paid parking time but also alerts the city where the available spots are. You're supposed to be able to plug in the date, time and location to pull up all the spots and rates near your destination. I couldn't get the site to work for me.
I had better luck with two apps on my smartphone; ParkMe and the Parker. The GPS finds me on the map, then reveals the spaces, lots and rates. You can also search for a specific location, like say Baco Mercat, and find all the parking near the restaurant.
Without that guidance, it would be crazy frustration to look for a spot, find one, only to discover it comes at a premium. In fact, be aware. We parked on Main Street, near 2nd. The west side of the Main cost $3 an hour, maximum two hours. On the east side of the same street, also maximum stay of two hours, but you'll pay only $1.50 an hour. Ghent told me that was the case on a street in Chinatown too. What he didn't explain is why. Somehow, one side of the street is more popular or valuable than the other.