CANOGA PARK  (CBSLA.com) — New parking meters at the upscale Village at Westfield Topanga Mall in Canoga Park are causing friction with shoppers and store keepers.

Merchants believe the parking meters are especially bad for business. And they are also upset they were installed a month ago — just before the holiday shopping rush.

KCAL9’s Rebecca Ferriter spoke to shoppers and business owners who had a lot to say.

“I’m not agreeing, it should be free. The parking should be free,” said shopper Elida Hernandez.

Many using the meters for the first time were confused as to how they worked. After parking, you punch in the space’s number and pay using change or a credit card.

“They only have 90 minutes, then they have to run back to their car, pay more,” said Donna Peterson of Manya Jewelers.

Peterson manages the jewelry store, one of 70 businesses in the new mall. In the month since the meters were installed, Peterson said business has dropped.

“It was a drastic change, drastic,” she said.

“I know I wouldn’t park here again,” said mall customer Suzette Rosso, “I would go inside the big structure.”

Many customers say that lines to pay are also too long. Parking if only free for the first hour and many people told Ferriter they waited on line a lot of the time just to pay. Also, fewer than 20 of the 70 stores validate.

Peterson also said the parking meters eat credit cards.

“It’s funny we have to go get pliers and pull out all their credit cards because they get stuck inside the machine,” she said.

What happens to motorists who don’t pay or spend more than 90 minutes without re-feeding the meters? Ferriter reports you can be cited by mall security or worse — towed.

Those policies are no way to build up a business clientele, Peterson believes.

“They’re just going to go to another shopping center and that hurts,” she says.

Peterson told Ferriter that the owners of the jewelry store plan on circulating a petition among fellow merchants asking the mall to eliminate the parking meters.

Ferriter asked the mall’s developer for a comment but did not hear back.

The Los Angeles Daily News reported that the mall is aware of the complaints and bugs in the system but that paid parking will remain in place.

 

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