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Visitors to the Californian beach town of Santa Monica be warned: the days of finding a parking meter with extra time on it are numbered.

Just in time for the influx of summer tourists, from this month onwards the city is replacing 6,000 of its regular parking meters with new smart meters and ground sensors. The new meters will automatically reset when your car leaves the parking space – even if there is still time on the metre -- so whoever arrives next will still have to pay the full price. It also won't accept additional payment once you’ve reached the posted time limit.

According to the Santa Monica Transportation website, the new meters will increase on-street parking availability by making sure people leave when they’re supposed to, reduce parking-related traffic congestion and facilitate payment. Drivers can still use credit cards or coins to pay the meters, but also have the new option of paying by smart phone. Those who pay by phone can receive text message alerts when their meter is about to expire and can add more time, up to the posted maximum limit.

Visitors looking for longer-term parking than the usual two hours can check out the city's many parking structures whose real-time availability can be seen online. Ultimately, the sensors will help Santa Monica develop the same sort of real-time map for metered parking, which could then be accessed online and through mobile applications.

Caroline Pardilla is the Los Angeles Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes Carolineoncrack.com.

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