By Staff Writer
Los Angeles City Council is considering establishing a virtual permit parking pilot program using license plates readers instead of hanging placards to verify a car’s ability to park in a district. A similar program is currently operating within UCLA but a battle between the teacher’s union and university administration at another California university highlights privacy concerns over virtual permit parking.
Preferential and Overnight Parking Districts are established throughout Los Angeles to address residential parking impacts from vehicles from outside the community. Beginning in 2018, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) began issuing permits in the form of hangtags. Permit holders must display the hangtags when the vehicle is parked within the district in order to avoid being cited. Some residents, however, feel that hangtags are often inconvenient and cumbersome for some residents.
UCLA Transportation recently introduced the Bruin ePermit system where residents’ license plates serve as the permit. The Bruin ePermit system works similarly to a supermarket scanner with a license plate functioning as the barcode. When read, the numbers of the license plate are automatically referenced against the parking database to verify a valid permit. This license plate reading technology is used to manage parking in more than 20 California municipalities and colleges.
Recently, Councilmember Koretz who represents Century City and Westwood introduced a motion instructing the Department of Transportation (LADOT) to develop a pilot project that uses license plates as Preferential and Overnight Parking District permits.
“By moving to a virtual permit system, the City could improve operational efficiency and offer numerous customer benefits, including, eliminating the need to display a hangtag or move hangtags from vehicle-to-vehicle and reducing paper, plastic, and resources used during permit production and distribution,” Koretz said.
In Brentwood, preferential parking districts are established near the Brentwood Country Mart, and between Montana Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard near University High School. In addition, earlier this year a new preferential parking district was approved by LA City Council in Brentwood Glenn. While city officials like Koretz seem to welcome the idea, a virtual permit parking program at San Diego State University (SDSU) has faculty and staff in the middle of a debate over concerns about privacy and disciplinary action.
In early August, SDSU’s Parking & Transportation Services announced the university would be transitioning to a virtual parking enforcement system, joining several other California State Universities.
Students soon grew accustomed to the new system but many faculty and staff have yet to give in. Due to ongoing negotiations between their respective unions, a majority of faculty and staff are still required to display a hanging parking placard, as reported by The Aztec.
The California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) is concerned virtual parking systems could be “used to track employees’ attendance or for employee discipline.”
According to Robert Yslas, CSUEU Chapter 318 president and SDSU faculty member, the union is worried that the surveillance policy the SDSU is pulling the language from is too broad in its threshold for disciplinary action and fails to clearly define “egregious” behavior.