Evanston parking enforcement officers are testing newly arrived license plate recognition systems and will soon be tracking down an estimated 6,200 “boot-eligible” cars with excessive unpaid parking tickets.

Parking Manager Rickey Voss told the city’s Transportation and Parking Committee this week that the camera and computer systems will also be used to enforce two-hour parking limits on city streets.

“I’ve seen it work, it’s fantastic,” Voss said.

“I can see you’re getting excited,” added Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, a member of the committee.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, worried that the city may not have enough Denver boots to immobilize all the cars the new systems spot.

Voss conceded that the city only has five boots now, and Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons said he plans to look for alternatives to the expensive boots.

“Other towns use big orange stickers pasted on car windows or other devices to target the scofflaws,” Lyons said, “but there’s nothing quite as effective as not being able to move the car.

He said that in Arlington County, Va., where the camera systems are in use, parking officers take the license plates off of skofflaw cars.

“I thought that was a little over the top, but we have to come up with something that’s not as capital-intensive as boots.”

Voss said there are other options as well. Some communities, he said, concerned about theft of the boots by parking scofflaws, have started towing vehicles with unpaid tickets.

But he said that while there’s likely to be an onslaught of additional scofflaw cars spotted initially, he expects that once the backlog is worked through, “it should slow down to normal.”

Top: The camera from a license plate recognition system.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. High tech gizmos, but only 5 boots?

    I am glad that the city bought some modern technology to deal with parking scofflaws.  This technology has been used in many other cities for a few years.  Glad that we are getting with it to increase our city employees' efficiency.

    But who made the decision to buy this expensive license plate scanning system with 6,200 boot eligible violators but has only five boots available to use on these scofflaws' cars?  According to the story, the city "plans to look for alternatives to the expensive boots."

    Now?  They buy this whiz-bang technology, but they lack the boots to lower the boom on the violators and now they "plan to look for alternatives to expensive boots"?  Wow.  Nothing like planning ahead.


  2. 6,200 “boot-eligible” cars

    How long did it take to have 6,200 cars on the boot list. That seams like a lot for a city the size of Evanston.

    Some must from cars that don't reside in Evanston.

    Some must belong to dead people or people that have long moved out of state.

    It is amazing that there is not a list of names and addresses of the people that own these vehicles. If not, why hasn't the city get this information from the state or it's own computerize list of city stickers.

    It doesn't appear that the city has done a good job of finding these cars ing the past. I would bet that 1 out of 5 cars in Evanston would be on the list. I would bet that 1 walking meter maid in downtown Evanston could write at least 60 parking tickets a day and find up to 5 bootable cars just checking a list against the cars that they have ticketed.

    With all the ticketing, booting, and towing that will be going on, Evanston shoule get a spot on the tv show "Parking Wars". This could make a lot of money for Evanston. I can't wait.

    By the way, I like the idea of the of the new device.

    With all this new money coming in, will the city lower taxes and fees or will they find a new way to spend it..

    1. Lessons from Chicago

      You ask how long?  Perhaps Chicago is the example …

      My car was booted in Chicago last year while I was visiting a client on business.  It cost me close to $1,000 to get it back and resolve the situation.  At the time, my Evanston house was in foreclosure and I was struggling to pay the utilities – so this was no small expense to me.

      I've not had a ticket in a long, long time. Chicago boots cars with more than 2 tickets.  I was booted for an unpaid ticket from 1988 and another from 1993 – both from cars I owned 3 and 4 previously to the one I currently own.  There were no tickets on my current vehicle or tag.  I didn't even know I had unpaid tickets – these were from my student days. 

      By the way, when you go to sell your house, you can't buy transfer stamps unless your parking tickets are paid.  I learned this when I sold my home and moved from Evanston because I could no longer afford the property taxes – $12,000/year for a house that sold for just under $400,000 – despite having paid Shapiro and others to protest the taxes.

      Although I still work in Evanston – I have to say I am much happier having moved away to live.

  3. The boot scared me straight!

    I recently felt the sting of the boot. It was a bummer, but darn effective. You can bet I will not let my tickets amass any more.   (And is it just me or does the device look a bit like Wall-E?)

  4. You can always do what I did…

    You can always do what I did after I moved here: get rid of your car! It's better for the environment, your health, and can save you a lot of money and headaches! 

  5. Get more boots

    This is ridicoulous to only have 5 boots. that's like the cops having only 5 guns. how about firemen only having 5 oxygen masks. how about city having 5 snow plows. how about having 5 ticket enforcers!!

    opps they have 10 of those even buying them  new cars i recently read.  the point is it just dont work and the manager and this lyons guy should have looked into this long ago.

    What are you guys doing?  You dont just go out and buy major priced equipment without a complete plan for booting,towing,storing, even selling vehicles of unpaid scofflaws after 30 days to recoup city money????

  6. easy solution

    I just bought 4 boots of my own and boot my own car wherever I park. They take up a lot of space, but effective.

  7. Parking Tickets

    Why not just tow the boot eligible vehicles?  No extra investment for the city, plus a bit of business generated for a local towing company.  In order to claim your vehicle, you have to pay towing fee plus outstanding tickets.  I think I'd be more worried about having my car towed than getting the boot.  

  8. Evanston

    I am so glad I am moving out of this town. When I moved here I really thought it was a groovy integrated community. Well it's absolutely not. It's just another money hungry village that's bought into the same practice of greed at all expense. In my opinion the only thing worse than a greedy conservative is a greedy liberal. Moving out of here and no longer supporting it with my overpriced real estate taxes ASAP. No, I have no unpaid tickets even though I actually received a letter stating that I did from 2008. Four years ago. Good luck evanston.

    1. Good Luck Charlie…

      the Tea Party Express is leaving the station.

      Hope it makes a stop in whatever town is the right fit for you.

      BTW, for all the people complaining about overvalued property taxes, it's very easy to file an appeal. I just did this year and last week found out I won my appeal and my new assessed value is being reduced by 17%! (very little effort and a big ROI )

      And on those phanton unpaid parking tickets…I received on a few weeks ago as well. But guess what? About 2 days later I received another letter explaining there had been a software glitch and to disregard the previous notice. Presto…problem solved with no effort on my part. And kudos to the govt. agency for sending out a prompt response to an error.

      It's easy to complain but sometimes takes a bit effort to actually make a difference. Or in other words try being part of the solution and not part of the problem.

      Hopefully wherever you're train stops the living will be a little less filled with complaints.

      Good luck.

      1. Problem with the Tea Party

        More than likely, if there was more Tea Party people in Evanston, it would be a better place to live.

        17% reduction in assessed value, that's pretty good. Which lawyer did you use? We would all like you to know. In Cook County, the lawyer with the most clout gets the best results.

        An online public disclosure would be great. It could list property value reductions, representing law firm, and rejection for reassessment.

        The city could list who gets tickets, who pays their tickets, and who doesn’t  pay their tickets. This would includes all types of tickets or fines.

    2. Charlie – I’m with ya. I have

      Charlie – I'm with ya. I have one last condo in Evanston that I'm about to put for sale to get the heck out of this town.  

      @RacerX – I pay $4,400 for a 678 sq ft condo in downtown Evanston. This is after our building hired a law firm to appeal. 

      …and I would hardly define myself to be apart of the tea party express. Just because I don't want to pay absolutely insane real estate taxes that serve no other purpose than paying union salaries  (hello pension problem) doesn't make me a right wing loon.

  9. Bright idea

    Here's a solution to collect money, PAYMENT PLAN OPTION! I bet if the city of Evanston would be so kind to allow people this option they would see a payment or two or even all tickets paid off. I was told I was on the boot list, even tho I wasn't, and made my own decision to park in the back of my home and pay down on a ticket here and there until all 7 were paid off. It took over 7 months but my payment plan worked for me. Oh here's another bright idea, AMNESTY PROGRAM!! Wow. Another program that would allow people to pay original amount of ticket and pay down or all tickets. Wouldn't this work best around tax time? Maybe once every so often, instead of never, this should be an option.  It wouldn't be like Evanston is missing out on anything because they haven't been collecting money in the first place. Come on Evanston, get with the programs,

  10. Will Wally follow through and reduce staff ?

    When they stated they were going to get these cammeras they stated they would eliminate one ticket writer position.  Will they follow through and save us $80,000 to $100,000.  Or will this be another 1/4% tax increase on our bill next yeaqr?

    As most have pointed out they did not plan this too well, since they have so few boots, likely revenue will not be what it is anticipated.  I would suspect most of the 6,200 cars are long gone, given the high number of renters and students in town.

    They seem to justify this based they could write tickets easy in a two hour zone, thus they would not need the extra person to monitor the cars. Here again this might stop more people from coming here to shop and vist.

  11. Evanston is ticket happy.

    Evanston is ticket happy. When they do make a mistake it takes a while to correct and giving the parking people another means to make life miserable on others is not a good use of my time or money.

    This parking game in Evanston is outrageous and is another way to tax the working, middle and student class. Now they have a new toy to play with. Repair the terrible streets and and stop worrying about parking.

  12. Thank God for this

    Thank God for this new technology. I was just saying to my friend the other day that I didn't think Evanston's parking enforcement was Draconian enough

  13. Raising meter rates another example of misplaced policy

    In the last week two residents have express angry to me over the fact they have raised the parking meter rates in the down town. Interesting enough a member of the parking committee told me there has been a slight drop off of parkers at the Central street train station per their own observation.

    Just like increasing tickets on people, will they be writing someone a ticket for being over 1 minute in a 2 hour zone?  Most likely that person will not come back to Evanston to shop or dine.

    Council members appear ready next year to raise the taxes again to high levels, ( 8%) they will use approaches like this to keep on raising fees, accept the end result will be more cost and screw ups.

  14. It really isn’t that hard

    I think I've gotten one parking ticket in almost 20 years of driving in Evanston. Reading signs and paying meters really isn't that hard. 

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