Camera-equipped ‘smart meters’ could soon spread across NJ

PALISADES PARK, N.J. — Thanks to a bill being considered by the New Jersey legislature today, 'smart meters' could soon enable towns to mail you a parking ticket, along with photo evidence of your car parked at an overdue meter.

The technology is already in place in several towns in the state, which are trying the meters out. Palisades Park has them installed along Broad Street, where you can pay for parking by smartphone, credit card or coin.

But small business owners on the commercial thoroughfare are not all in favor.

"You lose your money or you lose your patience. People get aggravated. Not good for business," said the owner of a pizza shop in town, who did not want to give his name. He proposed making the first 15 minutes of parking free for customers stopping for a quick cup of coffee or a pizza slice.

"People complain they get a ticket so many times," he said.

While other business owners and drivers said they don't mind the change.

"I mean cameras are used in other parts of the road, at a cross light or something like that you’ll see cameras there," said Rob Brusco, a driver who stopped to pay the meter. "It's out there so why not use it for a car when parking?"

New Jersey actually decommissioned it’s red light camera program in 2014 after a public outcry over tickets sent out by mail.

If the legislature passes the 'smart meters' bill (S2579/A4135), it could mean open season for all New Jersey towns to install these 'smart' parking meters.

Any town that installs 'smart meters' would have to issue warnings only for the first 30 days in operation. After that, you’d face a parking fine plus a $2 surcharge, which would go toward a newly created state fund that is specifically earmarked for a drunk driving prevention campaign.