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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Shoppers walk to their cars in a City Creek Center parking lot in Salt Lake City March 22, 2012. Four downtown lots near City Creek now offer the option of paying for parking with one tap of a cellphone.
We're trying to turn around parking, which isn't exactly everyone's favorite thing. We can't say something ridiculous like we're going to make parking awesome, but we're trying to assist in the experience. —Khristian Gutierrez, PassportParking

SALT LAKE CITY — Quickly paying for parking can now be added to the long list of things Utahns can accomplish with their smartphone.

Drivers using four downtown parking lots can now pay for parking with the press of one button, peruse Facebook for nearby deals on parking validations and be notified 15 minutes before their parking period expires.

“We’re trying to turn around parking, which isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite thing. We can’t say something ridiculous like we’re going to make parking awesome, but we’re trying to assist in the experience,” said Khristian Gutierrez, managing partner with PassportParking, the business responsible for installing the new technology.

“We’re working with (PassportParking) to see if we can make other lots operational,” said Kreston Lee, daily parking manager for Utah Property Management Associates, a company that manages commercial parking in the heart of downtown. “It’s our responsibility to look at what’s out there, so I don’t think we’re ever done looking for more technology or to expand.”

The pay-by-phone feature will be included alongside traditional card and cash payment options at Plum Alley, West Temple, North Temple, and the 400 West parking lots. Roughly 3,000 of company’s 14,000 parking stalls will be affected.

The mobile payment app, simply called PassportParking, launched in Salt Lake City Monday. It uses GPS to identify a shopper’s parking location and charge them according to the hourly rates in that particular lot. Fifteen minutes before parking charges are set to increase (after one hour, for example), the app sends a notification to that person’s phone.

After credit card information is initially entered into the app, subsequent use of the app requires only one tap to pay.

“If I’m making a conscious decision to pay with my phone, it better be fast,” Gutierrez said.

Beginning early next week, downtown visitors can visit PassportParking’s Facebook page to locate stores that are offering validations as part of storewide incentives.

“People hate paying for parking. When businesses are paying for it, is there a better way to build that customer loyalty?” Guiterrez said.

The deal is PassportParking’s first step into the Salt Lake City market. The business contracts with organizations in 27 states, including the Parks and Recreation department in California.

Email: [email protected], Twitter: benlockhart89