Until very recently, parking meters hadn't changed much for the better since their introduction in the late '30s. The premise is simple, and relatively low-cost for most cities to maintain. But with blooming technology comes the ability to improve upon the old, tried-and-true methods, and in recent years, bigger cities have begun to see their familiar meters get a makeover.
The newer models accept credit cards rather than change and are dubbed "smart meters" because they can send users a text message to notify them when their parking time is about to run out. The problem with the upgrade, says Denise Barton, is that the new machines emit low levels of radiation within their wireless signals, and it's making her sick.
Barton, who lives in Santa Monica, says she's suffering from ear infections, neck pain, and ringing in her ears, and it all started when the new meters showed up in town. Barton thinks the city should compensate her for her pain and suffering to the tune of $1.7 billion, with an additional $1.7 million for every month the meters are in operation.
Barton will have a hard time convincing a judge to take her seriously, however, as there is no hard evidence that low-levels of radiation caused by cell phones or WiFi signals can cause cancer. The World Health Organization, however, classified them as "possibly carcinogenic to humans".
Barton is well-known with the city council for being very vocal during public sessions, and says she is a big advocate for changing the way we view technology and its hazardous potential.
“I know it seems a little big,” said Barton, “but they can’t do things that affect people’s health without their consent. I think that’s wrong.”