Cameras patrolling Fairmont for parking spot-sitters

Residents in the Fairmont neighborhood are the guinea pigs for a new way for the City of Eugene to enforce proper parking.
Instead of parking enforcement vehicles marking car tires with chalk, infrared cameras take a picture of the car's license plate as the patroller drives down the street. When the parking enforcement officer comes back later, the camera will take another picture. If the same license plate is in the same spot, the offender gets a ticket.

Eugene Parking Services Manager Jeff Petry says the cameras are more efficient compared to chalking: two cameras on top of the parking patrol vehicle take pictures of both sides of the street. That way, the parking enforcement officer only needs to drive down a road once to take the first round of photographs.

"So we save time on the first pass through the neighborhood and then the second pass is much more efficient," said Petry. "So the only difference is chalk marks on the tires, and it's much quicker than putting chalk marks on the tire."

"I think in the long run it's more ergonomic for us than trying to swipe with a chalk stick all day long," said Parking Enforcement Officer Aimee Derringer. Derringer says it's an advantage for drivers because with the chalk system, if drivers moved to another block after getting a chalk swipe, the chalk could remain on the vehicle as they drive elsewhere. The cameras and GPS tag will clearly show the location of the car when the parking enforcement vehicle drives by.

The City of Eugene currently has two cameras on one patrol scooter, paid for by a unique agreement with the University of Oregon and Matthew Knight Arena. Petry says UO sells parking permits for events at the arena, and revenue collected from those permits funds enhanced parking enforcement by the City of Eugene.

"It is cheaper in terms of staffing, more efficient, workers comp claims, injuries that happen with the doors. We get through the neighborhood faster. And you know part of the enforcement in the neighborhoods is it helps protect the neighborhood livability here," said Petry.

For Fairmont residents, the computers recognize neighborhood parking permits on car bumpers.

If the system is effective in the Fairmont neighborhood, the City of Eugene could enforce parking using cameras in other parts of the city.

"This is a one-of-a-kind agreement in the United States. It's very unusual," said Petry. "So if we decide to do that there would have to be reasons around operational efficiencies."

But what if a driver parks in one spot, leaves, then comes back to the same spot?

Petry says when the cameras take a picture of the vehicle, the photograph includes the surrounding scene, like signs, rocks, or other landmarks. Therefore, it's highly unlikely for a driver to park in the exact same way two times in a row.
Eugene Parking Services
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