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Transported: The City's 270 New Smart Parking Meters, Found!

Welcome to "Transported," our new weekly series about getting places in San Francisco, whether you take the bus or the BART, bike or drive. Come here to find the skinny on secret parking spots, the new bike lines and how to get across town on MUNI without losing your mind.

The installation of smart parking meters in Hayes Valley last month was big news for anyone with four wheels in the city, but it was just the tip of the iceberg. Today SFpark, the program behind the smart meters, is putting 270 new ones in the Civic Center area, followed by over 300 meters in the combined Hayes Valley-Civic Center realm in September. By October, 6,000 street spaces in neighborhoods like SOMA, the FiDi, Mission, Marina, Fillmore and Fisherman's Wharf will get smart meters, along with more than 12,000 spots in city-owned parking garages (those locales to be announced).

What's so "smart" about these new meters, you ask? Well, they can do a lot of things the old ones couldn't, like wirelessly detect when a parking spot is vacant, and send that information to drivers in real-time (in the future, via smart phone apps and electronic signage). No more than once a month, they'll price-adjust based on the demand of each parking spot, from as little as $0.25 an hour up to $18 an hour temporarily during special events like baseball games. By 2011, parking time limits will be extended to reduce the need for re-parking and issuing tickets (which are scary-expensive these days).

You can still pay with the spare change you find in your couch, but these smarties also take major credit or debit cards (yay!), and will soon accept SFMTA parking cards which you can buy all over the city and online at SFMTA's site. The SFMTA has a complete list of parking card vendors, along with what kinds they sell.

Here's a few of the most central places to buy your parking card:

Cole Hardware, 70 4th St. @ Mission, (415) 777-4400
Charlie's Pharmacy, 1101 Fillmore St. @ Golden Gate, (415) 567-0771
Fredericksen Hardware, 3029 Fillmore St. @ Union, (415) 292-2950
Crown Market & Liquor, 712 Geary St. @ Leavenworth, (415) 771-7662
Roberts Hardware, 1629 Haight St. @ Clayton, (415) 431-3392
Fog City News, 455 Market St., Suite 125 @ 1st, (415) 543-7400
Sapphire Photo Inc., 2761 Mission St. @ 24th
Brownie's Hardware, 1563 Polk St., @ California, (415) 673-8900
Whole Foods Market, 450 Rhode Island St. @ Mariposa, (415) 552-1155
Whole Foods Market, 399 4th St. @ Harrison, (415) 618-0066