New technology to help crack down on parking violators in San Luis Obispo

Posted at 5:50 PM, Aug 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-20 20:50:12-04

The City of San Luis Obispo is employing new technology to enforce parking regulations.

Besides making sure the parking meter is fed with coins, parking officers are also making sure a car doesn’t overstay the time limit and moves at least 500 feet away.

If you’re in the downtown area, you might come across a couple of city cars outfitted with two rooftop cameras. That’s how the city is now keeping track of parking violations.

"It takes a time and date stamp of each vehicle," explained Scott Lee, City of San Luis Obispo Parking Manager. "It shows a picture of the vehicle. It displays the print of the actual plate."

Lee says the automated license plate recognition system is much more efficient and easier to verify than using chalk to mark a vehicle’s tire.

"You would have had to issue it into the handheld by manually typing in the plate or else physically just looking at your watch. It made it suspect in people’s opinion that they were actually there in excess of two hours of whatever the posted time limit was," Lee continued.

The city council approved the technology back in July.

Officers are checking to make sure that you feed the meter and move your car after the time is up.

"And so you say, ‘I rolled up or I drove around the block and I parked in the same spot.’ That’s not legal," Lee explained.

Last week, the system was in test mode and hundreds of warnings were issued. Monday, patrolling officers were able to write citations with the new cameras.

"It’s not a revenue generator for the city, per se, as in parking fees. It’s to create a turnover in the downtown area," Lee clarified. 

Ann’s Clothing thinks the crackdown could help businesses.

"Because especially parking on Morro Street, there’s very rarely any open spaces in front of the store," said Joanne Rogoff, an employee at Ann’s Clothing.

Deborah Winter of Shell Beach says she tries not to park in the metered spots because it’s too difficult, especially when she has an appointment.

"I’m always stressed about putting money in the meter and the tickets are pretty expensive," Winter said. 

An alternative is parking in the parking structures.

Timed parking is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. There are different rules on the weekend. 

The new technology also stores data so it can aid the police department in case officers are looking for a suspect car.

The technology cost $80,000 and it was paid for by parking funds.

There’s a parking program meeting planned for November 13 at 6 p.m. at San Luis Obispo City Hall. The public is invited to attend. 

The City of Pasadena is already using this new technology.