City may look at alert system to tell residents when street sweeping has been completed

Over the past few years the city has entertained a number of ideas to try and alleviate parking issues for neighborhoods in Long Beach where parking can be scarce no matter what time of day.

Officials have tried changing the angles of parking spaces, tweaking them by tens of degrees to create a more spaces in Alamitos Beach.

They’ve conducted parking studies, overhauled street sweeping times citywide, expanded the use of smaller sweepers to reduce parking impacts along the Broadway Corridor and even suggested that existing parking structures could be the answer to motorists late-night parking woes.

Complaints over Broadway Corridor changes may spur changes to street sweeping

On Tuesday, the City Council will ask the city manager’s office to look into if the city can harness technology that could inform residents when street sweepers are approaching their street, or have already cleaned them, so they can re-park their cars without being ticketed.

The item is being brought to the floor by Councilwoman Suzie Price, who represents southeast Long Beach. Her district includes Belmont Shore, the Peninsula and parts of Belmont Heights, where parking can be a quality of life issue.

Quality of life was the impetus behind the 2016 changes that included re-working the street sweeping network in the city to avoid early morning routes in residential areas. Prior to the changes, some neighborhoods faced 4 a.m. wake up calls to move their cars to avoid being cited.

“Making those changes was definitely better and they were user-friendly,” Price said. “The impact on people’s daily lives that the changes had were definitely progress but I think theres more that we can do with technology.”

Price is unsure what the program could look like, but she’s hopeful that it could include a push-notification feature similar to the city’s Alert Long Beach system that can send texts or emails to residents of emergencies, severe weather or other incidents that could have impacts on city operations.

Alert Long Beach requires users to register with a home address and an email or mobile phone number. Other cities in Southern California have already implemented alert systems for its street sweeping days. Huntington Beach, San Clemente and others send reminders the day of or day before the sweepers are scheduled to arrive.

However, Price would like something more precise. She said she’d prefer a notice be sent to residents after a sweeper has passed a home, before it arrives at a home, and even the possibility to show residents where the sweepers are in real time. This could allow vehicles to be re-parked instead of leaving whole sides of streets off limits for the duration of the two-hour street sweeping window.

The city’s street sweepers are equipped with GPS technology that allows the city’s public works department to track the progress of each vehicle on its route. A spokesperson for the department said that typically that function is used to tell how fast a vehicle traveled, if it completed its route and what time it completed its route with that data sometimes being used to dispute resident complaints.

They were unsure how the device could be used to alert residents when the vehicles had passed a particular street but that discussions had begun with other cities that have already rolled out sweeper-alert programs of their own.

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Los Angeles rolled out a pilot program in 2017 in its Woodland Hills and West L.A. neighborhoods that sought to accomplish what Price is asking for in Long Beach. KPCC reported in 2017 that the cost of the program was estimated at $570,000, with another expected hit to the city’s budget of about $200,000 in the form of lost parking fines.

With the most recently passed budget, the city increased parking citations by $10 this year. Street sweeping citations, the city’s largest source of parking ticket revenue, were projected to generate about $918,000 in the current fiscal year that ends next September but that is the least of Price’s concerns.

“There could be a loss of revenue for the city but it’s important that we do what’s right by our residents,” Price said. “And if we can keep them $70 richer then that’s a good thing.”

The City Council is expected to consider the item at its Tuesday, Nov. 12 meeting. Price’s item calls for a report on the feasibility of such a program to return to the City Council within six months.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.