If you haven't heard, the city of Reno has a sorted history with parking meters. Only a few years ago, it was pretty much free parking in most places in Reno (unless you wanted to park in the downtown parking garage). With the tightening economy, they eventually put in parking meters on all the downtown spaces. Then they got fancy and wanted a smart system that could tell if a spot was being used and had local computer terminals.
Here's a picture of the former...and the later....which turned out not to work too well, and was scrapped at a rather large cost to the city.
Once the fancy system failed, they returned the old meters (which worked just fine) to some of the high traffic areas. However, we still hadn't spent enough $$$ messing around. They argued it was just too inconvenient to have to carry change to use a parking meter (the horror)! So, this week we got round three parking meters....basically the same thing we had originally, but they take credit cards.
While this is probably a really good solution, the city sure has wasted a ton of time and money to try to make money of downtown parking.
If you want to steer clear of the whole mess, just ride your bike. The parking is always free and almost always closer to your destination than if you drive! The other up side to all these new parking meters, is each one provides an additional free place to lock up your bicycle!