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Parking Permit App Would Let You Buy Passes For Pals In An Instant

By Alisa Hauser | July 20, 2016 9:57am
 Daily parking permit stickers.
Daily parking permit stickers.
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Susana Mendoza

CITY COUNCIL — On Wednesday, City Clerk Susana Mendoza will introduce a plan to City Council to allow residents of zoned parking areas to buy daily permits for visiting friends and family through an app on their phones.

The pilot program would eliminate the requirement for temporary stickers to be physically displayed on windshields. Instead, an app that stores a car's license plates will help ticket writers determine if the car can legally park in a zoned spot, Mendoza said.

There are 1,200 permit-only residential parking zones in the city, and each year the city sells about $1.9 million worth of the daily passes, which are currently sold in packs of 15 for $8.  

"The goal is to give people another option," said Pat Corcoran, a spokesman for Mendoza. 

Corcoran said the stickers are "a relic of the past."

The process of buying the daily stickers can be frustrating, some residents say.

Earlier this month, a Noble Square resident was turned away from one of only six aldermanic offices that sell the daily passes because he was not a resident of that alderman's ward — an incident that Corcoran called "disappointing" because any alderman that has the ability to sell the stickers can do so for all of the city's 1200 zones.

The ordinance introduced Wednesday will broaden the definition of the word "display" to include electronic receipts, so that the thousands of signs in permit-only residential zones advertising the requirement to "display" permits don't need to be replaced.

"This is something people have been clamoring for for a long time. I've been wanting to do something along these lines since I got elected [in 2010]," Mendoza said. "At the first budget meeting, I envisioned people being able to print these [stickers] at homes in their pajamas."

Once the language is approved, the City Clerk's office will put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) for vendors who are able to create the app.

Mendoza said she wants to have the pilot program up and running by this fall.

As long as a resident is registered to park in their zone, they can buy the passes through an app, still in blocks of 15 only, and assign the passes to their friend's license plates. They can buy up to 45 daily passes each month and designate the passes to different license plates.

The ordinance also allows for the vendor who makes the app to charge a convenience fee on every transaction.

Mendoza said that the ability to buy the daily stickers instantly — versus going to City Hall or one of two clerk satellite office, an alderman's office or buying online and waiting a few days for delivery —  "is truly a convenience."

"[The selected vendor] will have to develop the technology. They eat the cost of bringing it to market and we are not spending taxpayer dollars on the development," Mendoza said.

Mendoza added, "We will never truly say goodbye to [the physical stickers]. And if there ends up being a convenience fee,  people who don't want to pay for them [via an app] will have other options."

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