Cedar Rapids to monitor violators with license plate scanners - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Cedar Rapids to monitor parking violators with license plate scanners

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

Starting Tuesday, there's going to be a new technology impacting parking in downtown Cedar Rapids. Parking ambassadors will start using license plate recognition software, which means they'll be able to know if you have outstanding parking tickets.

The new cameras are another step towards efficiency. For more than a year, drivers have been able to pay for their street parking with a credit card on a smart meter or on their cell phone. Some feel this new step is going too far.

Bethany Jordan drives to downtown Cedar Rapids every day and knows there's a lot of cameras in the city.

"I don't necessarily like the speed cameras and all of the cameras at the lights," said Jordan, of Cedar Rapids. "I do think it's a little bit big brothery."

Starting Tuesday there's going to be a new camera downtown.

Park Cedar Rapids has installed license plate recognition technology on its car, allowing ambassadors to patrol downtown in less time.

"Today we are required to physically and manually go out there and chalk each tire," said Jon Rouse, General Manager of Park Cedar Rapids. "This is actually going to do it, automate the process for us."

The equipment can recognize vehicles that have exceeded the overtime parking limit. It can also identify if the car has unpaid tickets.

"Scofflaw identification is going to be always one of our primary focuses.," said Rouse. "It's those outstanding revenues that have been outstanding for some time. Five or more citations. We're going to be actively trying to collect those revenues."

Some drivers like the idea.

"I know there's some people that have parked outside the Montessori that probably shouldn't have been there," said Joy Vandenberg, of Cedar Rapids. "That would free up some parking."

As for Jordan, she's just glad her company pays for her parking.

The company starts using the cameras Tuesday. But the next two weeks are a training period, so it's a soft roll-out. In a couple weeks they'll start using the technology to enforce parking more strictly.

The new equipment cost Park Cedar Rapids a little more than $30 thousand. Officials say they expect to turn a profit by the end of the year.

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