Evanston officials are considering eliminating city vehicle registration and parking stickers and enforcing parking rules with mobile cameras that can read license plates.

A license plate recognition camera mounted on a police car (ELSAG North America photo).

Evanston officials are considering eliminating city vehicle registration and parking stickers and enforcing parking rules with mobile cameras that can read license plates.

A license plate recognition camera mounted on a police car (ELSAG North America photo).

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons told the Transportation and Parking Committee Wednesday that staff plans a one-day trip to Pittsburgh next month where such a system is already in operation to learn how well the cameras work in identifying parked cars whose owners have failed to pay for city stickers or have unpaid parking tickets.

Lyons says the new system could end long lines at the Civic Center when residents show up to pick up stickers in January and then apply them to their car windows in the cold.

Instead, Evanstonians could initially register their vehicles online and have recurring charges for the vehicles automatically billed to a credit card.

He says the city would save the cost of sending out registration forms and manually processing them.

In a memo, the city’s parking manager, Rickey Voss, said, “We envision this program will not necessarily have an increase or decrease in revenues” but will “increase compliance and reduce late fees, tickets and other fines.”

A vendor of the license plate recognition system that the city is considering, ELSAG North America Law Enforcement Systems, paints a much more aggressive picture of the equipment on its website, claiming that New Haven, Conn., has collected “millions in back taxes and penalties” from its system. 

The company also stresses the potential use of such systems to help locate stolen vehicles and even catch drug dealers. 

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said the new system could be convenient for people who move in or out of town during the year, if it let them pay vehicle registration fees quarterly.

And Lyons said simplifying the registration process should reduce the number of unregistered cars in the city.

Lyons says that if the system looks promising, after the planned site visit to Pittsburgh, it may be possible — if the City Council approves — to have the new system in place by the end of the year — which could make this year’s vehicle stickers the last on Evanston cars.

Related link

“Robo cop is on your tail” video from WUSA-TV, Washington, D.C.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation

3 Comments

  1. My Last City Sticker?

    Dear City Managers and fellow Citizens,

    I am all for streamlining and new technology… I like your ideas and have always wondered why there aren’t bar codes on license plates.

    "A vendor of the license plate recognition system that the city is considering, ELSAG North America Law Enforcement Systems, paints a much more aggressive picture of the equipment on its website, claiming that New Haven, Conn., has collected "millions in back taxes and penalties" from its system. "

    Considering the above statement and the potential for mischief or even accidental billing –  I am NOT going to give you my credit card number to keep on file!  I am happy to pay you by check in person or by mail but "carte blanche" ain’t going to happen.

    I am wondering with all these savings will the price go down? There was no mention about how much the system will costs or how much it will cost to operate…  please advise.

    Respectfully submitted, Brian Becharas

  2. Great to get rid of stickers, but

    But no one can explain to me why there are stickers in the first place. Why can’t towns tie into the secretary of state’s license plate renewal system, and no one living within the boundaries of a town gets a license plate sticker unless they have paid their town’s fee? There would be the odd case that would have to be settled by appeals, but this would handle 99 percent of all vehicles, I would think.

    The secretary of state could even collect the fee for the town and distribute the funds, just as the state does with sales tax revenue now. Wouldn’t require any fancy robo-system, either.

     

    1. Good idea in theory

      Except the County and State are frequently behind on their payments – as of now, many of our state-funded social service agencies have been waiting 6-8 months to be paid.  I’d hate for Evanston to have to borrow because it isn’t getting money directly.

      I have thought for a long time that this would be the best way to handle pet licensing – to tie it into vet visits/legally required vaccinations.  I keep forgetting to bring mine in, though we do license our dogs.  I found out a while back (though who knows, this may have changed) that the entire rabies licensing system is on paper – it isn’t entered into a database at all.

       

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published.