Keeping parking meters clean takes on new urgency in light of coronavirus

Marlonn Wright, a city of Berkeley meter worker, scrubs down meters along University Avenue early Thursday morning. Coronavirus has given new urgency to his job, he says. Photo: Kate Rauch

Marlonn Wright, a city of Berkeley parking meter maintenance worker, spends his mornings scrubbing some of the city’s 2,500 parking meters. Early Thursday, he worked his route along University Avenue near San Pablo Avenue.

Coronavirus has added a new sense of urgency to his job, Wright said.

In routine staff team huddles this week, his boss told the meter crew that they were helping the city by slowing the spread of the virus, Wright said.

“She was trying to keep our spirits up about the job.”


The meter team has eight maintenance workers. Meters get cleaned once a week unless a worker spots a problem that needs immediate attention, said Danette Perry, Berkeley’s parking services manager. So far, she said, COVID-19 isn’t changing the cleaning schedule. She added that the cleaning process is thorough, using whatever supplies it takes.

Wright said his workday starts early, with collecting money from roughly 30 meters. Then he returns to those same meters to wipe, wash, scrape — whatever it takes — to get them clean. He handles anywhere from 170-250 meters weekly, he said. “It’s my duty.”

And Wright said he is proud of a new, deeper sense of meaning of his work. “Keep in mind, usually we get unnoticed,” he said.

Products Marlonn Wright uses in his job cleaning the city’s parking meters. Photo: Kate Rauch
“Keep in mind, usually we get unnoticed,” said Marlonn Wright. Photo: Kate Rauch