"It's my lucky day when I don't get a ticket and there's money in the meter," said Santa Monica resident Emily Gutierrez. "Say 15 minutes, it's really helpful."
Starting Monday, the city's new parking meters will be able to sense when a car vacates the spot. The time remaining will zero out.
The sensors will generate more revenue for the city. Last March, Santa Monica installed new parking meters that accept coins and credit cards, or let you pay with your smartphone through their mobile app.
When the light on the meter flashes red, though, traffic officers are quick to ticket, sending some tourists home with an unwanted souvenir.
The fine for an expired meter is $53. The best way to avoid it is to make sure to read the sign.
"In my observation, unfortunately, most people will just get out of their vehicle, put a coin or card in and be on their way," said Officer Michael Herron of the Santa Monica Police Department.
The sensors will also tell drivers when they reach the maximum time allowed, preventing the meter from accepting payment beyond the posted limit. Over the next year, the sensors will be installed in all the parking meters that don't yet have them.
Enough money in the meter and keeping track of time should help people avoid paying for more than just the parking.