the Parker app

(Special to the Progress)

A screenshot of the Parker app, which residents and visitors can use to find open parking spaces in select parts of Old Town. The app tracks over 800 spots in downtown Scottsdale under a new city-sponsored pilot program

Residents, shoppers and tourists looking for parking in certain areas of Old Town can now find open spaces right on their smartphones.

 A new city-sponsored app will keep track of hundreds of spots and feed the city data about the parking situation downtown.

As part of a one-year pilot program, the Parker by Streetline app will track 834 parking spots from Scottsdale Road east to 75th Street between Indian School and Camelback roads using sensors embedded in the spots.

The app, available for Apple and Android devices, can show drivers the location of open parking spaces and identify spaces without time limits for visitors planning to stay beyond the two-hour limit enforced on some streets.

“When we first started looking at parking problem areas, the northeast quadrant of Old Town had the most challenges,” Transportation Director Paul Basha said in a city press release.

 “With this new technology, visitors can drive directly to a street with available parking, which will reduce driving time, traffic congestion and vehicle emissions,” he added.

The app can also give visitors directions back to where they parked their cars  and provide drivers with alerts if parking time limits are about to expire so they can avoid getting a ticket.

By the same token, the program will provide Scottsdale parking enforcement officers the ability to see where vehicles have violated parking limits.

“Officers no longer need to drive street by street chalking tires and then come back after a time period to check for chalk marks,” Lieutenant Christopher Dipiazza said in a city press release.

The app will also provide critical data to the city as it prepares its parking plans in the future.

“The system allows us to maximize our current parking resources while helping us better understand specific parking habits and needs,” Basha said.

The city first began investigating the use of this type of app after City Council study sessions in 2016 identified a parking shortage in the northeast area of downtown.

The city found that zoning ordinance changes from the 1980s resulted in the city providing 1,585 parking credits to private businesses to offset on-site parking requirements. The same area of the city had 720 on-street spaces and a 114-space parking lot, leaving a 751-parking spot deficiency in the area, according to a City Council memo.

Streetline’s program was already operating in 51 locations in the U.S. and Europe when the contract with Scottsdale took effect in early 2018, according to the city.

The city signed a contract with Streetline for a one-year pilot program that can be extended for up to five years.

The total one-year contract cost is $231,184.80, including $150,120 in one-time activation and sensor installation costs and $81,064.80 in one-year operation costs.

If the city decides to continue with the program, the yearly cost would be $81,064.80, and the city has not yet identified a source to fund that on a regular basis, according to a City Council memo from February 2018.

The city will also have to consider costs to replace in-pavement sensors that have a life expectancy of eight years.

Residents and visitors can find links to download the Parker app on Scottsdale’s website at scottsdaleaz.gov/old-town/parking. .