Evanston has cut the number of parking tickets it issues each year by a third over the past decade.

That’s what members of the city’s Transportation and Parking Committee were told Wednesday night.

During a presentation about the performance of the city’s parking enforcement tools and software provider, Duncan Solutions, the committee heard that the number of tickets issued has dropped from 180,000 a decade ago to 120,000 per year today.

That’s still 1.6 tickets for every resident, but it’s just shy of the 1.67 ratio at Duncan’s largest municipal customer — the City of Milwaukee, which has just under 600,000 residents and issues about one million tickets a year.

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons said the city’s enforcement efforts seem to be having the desired effect — that fewer people are violating the parking rules.

A variety of changes in parking regulations — from a reduction in the frequency of street sweeping to the installation of meters that permit four-hour on-street parking in the evenings near some local restaurants — may also have reduced the number of occasions in which residents run afoul of parking rules.

Despite the reduction in the number of tickets issued, the amount the city collects in parking fines has remained roughly stable or increased in recent years.

That’s due to a combination of increases in the size of fines and an improvement in the proportion of tickets the city is able to collect on. 

Tim Wendler, vice president of operations for Duncan, said the industry standard for ticket collections is 72 percent, but Evanston is now collecting 88 percent of the value of tickets issued.

The city expects to collect $3 million in parking fines this year and has projected collecting $3.45 million next year.

Duncan’s current contract with the city expires early next year. City staff is proposing a new four-year contract with the company which would include upgraded hand-held ticket-writing computers for parking enforcement officers.

Among other things, the new computers would provide higher image quality photos to make it tougher for violators to claim a parking violation didn’t take place.

They’d also be wirelessly connected to the city’s computer network so the collectors office would immediately have the information needed so it could accept payments from violators, rather than waiting a day to download the data from the machines.

The proposed new contract with Duncan also includes a reduction in the fee the company charges the city, compared to its current rates.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Downsize parking enforcement staff

    Sounds like there's improved efficiency in parking enforcement methods.

    Perhaps it's time to downsize the parking enforcement staff.

    Just sayin.

    1. Parking staff

      Parking enforcement staff has gradually been reduced, from 18 a few years ago to 15 now, based on information presented at the meeting.

      Recent rollout of license-plate reading cameras on parking enforcement vehicles just might lead to further staff reductions in the future.

      — Bill

  2. Shocking…

    Really?  Am I the only one not surprised by the results?  Perhaps someone in the city staff can check the correlation to a loss of retail tax revenue and loss of retail businesses attributed to increased enforcement actions by the parking program.  I wonder if the net gain in parking revenue would equal or surpass the loss of retail tax revenue attributed to potential customers shopping other competitive retail locations who do not charge for parking, e.g. downtown Wilmette, Hubbard Woods, Winnetka, Old Orchard.  

    There are times during the day when vast stretches of Grove Street and Sherman Avenue are void of cars.  This interection used to hum with retail businesses.  I don't know if there is a correlation, but, my hunch is that there could be.

  3. Fewer Tickets Not So Surprising

    Evanston's parking enforcement reputation is known far and wide.  Residents/students new to town continue to learn the lesson, but it doesn't take too long to catch on or hear from some long-established person about the "parking nazis" (not my phrase) that intuitively know exactly when your meter is going to expire or when to chalk your tire.  As time goes by, more and more people have adapted and either avoid shopping Evanston, or they make sure their meter is paid up.  I work in downtown Chicago and people that live in further away places such as Oak Park laugh at the Evanstonia parking regulations and hit-man style enforcement.

  4. city sticker with parking

    there should be an option of a city sticker that includes metered parking.  Like maybe $75 or $100 on top of the regular sticker fee.  And you never have to plug a meter.  Would not include any other kind of parking violation exemption like busstops or like being parked during snow or street sweeping, but just meter payment.  I'd buy it every year.  

  5. Parking Consulting Fees

    Of the $3M in parking fees revenue, how much of that is net?  i.e., what do we pay for staff and the contract for the services of Duncan?  I wonder.

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