Evanston testing technology to identify vehicles with unpaid tickets

Jia You

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Evanston is testing a new license plate identification system that will allow the city to identify cars with outstanding tickets. The automatic license plate recognition system will capture the license plate image with a camera and compare the image with information from a database, said Rickey Voss, the city’s parking manager. “Basically what it does is it reads the plates… so we can find out about these violations,” he said. Evanston issued more than 90,000 tickets last year, Voss said, adding that the city also puts a Denver boot on cars with five or more outstanding tickets, which are considered “the extreme.” The illegal parking situation in Evanston is comparable to that of other metropolitan districts, Voss said. “We’re a city, so we have the same problems as any other metropolitan area does,” he said. “It’s not bad.” Voss said the new system will also be used to monitor both 2-hour parking zones and overtime zones. Communications junior Kirk Vaclavik said the city might have gone too far in implementing the new system. “That would be overkill on the city’s part,” Vaclavik said. “They’re just going out of their way to try to get money and cause problems for people with cars.” However, Evanston resident Stephen Lee said he supports the new system. “I think that makes sense for the city,” Lee said. “If people are not parking legally their cars should be towed. I guess it’s better for the city to take care of that and free up more space for me to park my car.” He called parking in Evanston a “hassle,” and said he thinks the lack of parking space in downtown Evanston contributes to the problem of illegal parking. “If it was easier to find parking and it wasn’t nearly as expensive, I think people wouldn’t have a problem with illegal parking,” Lee said. Eric Palmer, the city’s spokesman, said Evanston offers more street parking spaces than most other North Shore suburbs. Voss said the city has not set a date to implement the new system. jiayou2014@u.northwestern.edu