San Leandro, California

As of February 2018, San Leandro, California, a medium-sized suburban city with approximately 90,000 residents, has been offering the ParkMobile app as an alternative way to pay for parking. We chatted with Mariana Garcia, Economic Development Project Specialist for the City of San Leandro, to discuss best practices gained from her experience with selecting, implementing, and managing ParkMobile in downtown San Leandro.

Best Practices for Parking Providers:

Do your background research.

In 2016, the City of San Leandro conducted a parking study to identify opportunities for improvement that would support the steady increase in people, cars, and development downtown. When Garcia took on her role in July of 2017, she immediately began taking action on recommended changes from the study. Garcia wanted to implement a solution that didn’t require a large investment in new infrastructure, so she turned toward parking technology that could work with what already existed. To prepare for working with a vendor, Garcia self-inventoried all infrastructure on the ground. When there’s already clarity around existing infrastructure, it’s easier to identify what’s needed from a technology solution. It also makes it easy to quickly eliminate the technologies that don’t integrate with existing infrastructure.

When selecting a mobile parking solution, consider what neighboring cities are using.

Garcia’s decision to choose ParkMobile against other options was driven by which solution had the largest audience and awareness locally. She wanted to choose the solution that would be the most user-friendly, the easiest to transition to, and one that would allow people to continue using the app in neighboring cities. ParkMobile has significant coverage within the East Bay area near San Leandro, so it was easy for people to get on board as many of them had the app on their phone. In general, people don’t want to have to download several different parking apps, so considering what neighboring cities are using helps alleviate that pain point, providing customers with a cohesive, user-friendly experience they can use as they travel.

Know what you need to provide your vendor and know what your vendor provides you so that implementation comes easy.

When Garcia began her relationship with ParkMobile, she was steadfast in her communication, ensuring she provided the vendor with all of the information needed to make the transition easy for both parties. “Implementation was easy,” says Garcia. “Once I provided ParkMobile with the inventory, they zoned everything for us, and we were ready to go live shortly afterwards.” By February 2018, ParkMobile was integrated with all downtown parking meters and two pay stations inside of the city’s four-level parking garage. From there, Garcia helped rebrand parking in downtown San Leandro with color-coded zones, updated marketing materials, and the launch of the ParkSL website.

Give customers an easy outlet to communicate with you.

Garcia was active in the community after the launch of ParkMobile. “People like having someone they can talk to,” says Garcia. “You have to know who your audience is, and you have to have the compassion to help people.” Garcia made herself accessible to customers, downtown business owners, and local residents by introducing herself door-to-door, tabling with her team at the city’s major festivals, and attending city council meetings. Garcia wrote several blog articles around the city’s new parking solution for San Leandro Next, an initiative to provide news and updates on economic development and innovation in San Leandro, and she launched the ParkSL website, providing an easy way for people to write in if they had any comments or concerns.

After your solution has been implemented, continue identifying opportunities for improvement.

Garcia still actively looks for new ways to improve both parking compliance and customer experience in downtown San Leandro. She wants to ramp up signage to better communicate to customers, and eventually, she plans to make the investment in new multi-space meters since the current infrastructure is older. Garcia also plans to apply paid parking to other areas of downtown, including the city’s major shopping centers, and she wants to continue working with the city’s residents to secure designated parking areas in their neighborhoods. As population density continues to increase in the downtown San Leandro area, Garcia plans to continue active conversation between the city, businesses, and residents to ensure a successful parking program.

To learn more about ParkMobile in San Leandro, check out our newest case study.