NORMAN — Plugging a meter on Campus Corner no longer means you better have a spare quarter. Try four quarters, if you want to stay up to an hour.
The so-called “smart meters” were installed in July, bumping the cost of parking from 25 cents an hour to $1 an hour, with a maximum parking time at each meter set at two hours.
The good news is you can pay with cash, credit card or even your cellphone.
The bad news is that the Norman City Council last week lifted restrictions on enforcement hours. Theoretically, this means parking meters could be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In practice, that's not likely to happen in the near future, because the city doesn't have enough officers to enforce parking restrictions around the clock, City Clerk Brenda Hall said.
Currently, parking meters are monitored and tickets written for violators between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Police Chief Keith Humphrey said.
The Campus Corner Merchants Association has recommended that meters be monitored until 8 p.m. each day.
Hall said no one has specified that as the hours of enforcement.
“Removing set enforcement hours from the city code, which is what the council did last week, just means the city manager has discretion on saying when the enforcement hours are,” Hall said.
Meters could be monitored and tickets written for violators on a 24/7 basis, she said, “but that's not what is going to happen, at least, right away.”
Humphrey said he has no immediate plans to enforce parking restrictions beyond 5 p.m. “because we don't have the personnel to do that.”
Campus Corner merchants asked that smart meters be installed in the area with the hope that increased prices would generate enough money to pay for more parking enforcement officers, Hall said.
If more parking enforcement officers were hired, then parking could be enforced around the clock, she said.
Merchants requested stricter parking restrictions because too many students and employees were taking up the meters and making it hard for shoppers to find a place to park, Hall said.
“At $1 an hour, they figure employees won't be parking at the meters, and thus, more space will be freed up for customers,” she said.