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LA Wants To Make It Easier To Find Parking With Real-Time Data Sharing

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(Photo by Bernard Wee/Flickr CC)
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Parking in Los Angeles is its own special hell. You head out for a night of fun only to be thwarted by crowded curbs. So you circle the block, then circle some more, hoping -- desperately -- that someone will get out of the way so you can ditch your car and get where you wanted to go.

Well, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation is hoping to make parking in the city a little less nightmarish. It's making real-time parking data available to the public, starting Friday.

The data's current form on the city's site, DataLA, is not particularly user-friendly. But the goal is for app developers to take it and push out a more usable version to drivers while they're on the road, either through handheld devices or to the vehicles themselves.

Right now, there are a few apps that help Angelenos find parking, including ParkMe and Parker, which shows parking availability at L.A. spots that incorporate sensors. LADOT's data could be incorporated into those, and other apps, such as Waze and Google Maps, "in a matter of weeks," according to Ken Husting, LADOT's parking administrator.

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"Really, the possibilities are limitless," he said in an interview with KPCC's Take Two. The department controls 34,000 on-street parking spaces and another 3,000 off street, according to Husting.

Right now, it has sensors on about 5,400 parking meters that know if a spot is being used or not. It's that information that's being pushed out by the data-sharing initiative.

The sensored meters are clustered in three main areas with mind-numbingly awful parking: downtown L.A., Westwood and Hollywood. Sensored meters will eventually expand to other areas that inspire exceptionally high levels of parking frustration, including Venice, USC and Exposition Park.

"This is one element of a multi-faceted approach to improve traffic in L.A.," Husting said. "This is targeting those 30 percent of people cruising around looking for parking spaces."

And fewer drivers clogging up the roads would be a welcome relief for everyone trying to get around L.A.

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