Parking violation appeals go online

Negar Tekeei

Evanston residents can now appeal parking tickets and violations online through a new city Web site that provides information about the city’s services and municipal government.

The Web site, www.cityofevanston.org, was launched Jan. 2 and is the first city Web site in Illinois to offer online parking citation appeals, city officials said Wednesday.

Wayne Moran, hearings division manager, said vehicle owners can now plead their cases from wherever they have online access.

“It’s unique because it’s paperless,” Moran said. “It takes a normally very difficult ordeal to contest a parking violation and converts it to a relatively easy, inexpensive method on making an appeal.”

Moran said he hopes it will take less than one week for vehicle owners to receive an e-mail response from a hearings judge about their appeals. Other methods of appealing, such as writing a letter to the hearings division with evidence or requesting an in-person appeal at the Evanston Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., could take anywhere from one week to 40 days before a judge issues a verdict, he said.

Moran said Northwestern students especially will benefit from this new method of appealing violations because they or their parents can file appeals conveniently when they are not in Evanston. In the past, Moran said, problems occurred when cars with out-of-state license plates received tickets and a hearings request was not filed within the required 10 days — causing the ticket to be sent to the address of the registered vehicle owner.

City Manager Roger Crum said the city is looking to expand the Web site to allow residents to apply for various licenses online. Officials also are considering methods of permitting residents to pay their water and electricity bills and parking tickets online once direct billing methods can be determined, he said.

Until then, the Web site will function as an up-to-date information source for Evanston residents.

“My interest is primarily to make sure the information of this site gets used,” Crum said. “The importance is keeping it up to date. It’s got to be current, and that is our main task right now.”

Moran said while only two people have filed parking ticket and violation appeals online since the Web site was launched, he expects more to take advantage of the online method’s convenience when the word gets out. Approximately 20,000 ticket appeals are filed each year, and 20 percent of tickets are found in error, he said.

Appeals are generally made when an officer makes a mistake citing the wrong vehicle registration number and when a missing or damaged sign fails to alert drivers of parking rules in a particular area.

Anne McCarthy, the Web site’s developer, said the online form of contesting parking tickets is still in the initial phases and all questions can be directed to her at [email protected].

The Web site also provides a calendar of local events and news from the city’s various departments.

Crum said the development of Evanston’s Web site is average compared to those of other cities across the United States, but that it is in the process of being expanded.

“It will take a lot of work to keep it up to date,” Crum said. “But it’s a good start.”