Oakland starts new parking boot program

November 12, 2009 9:50:31 PM PST
Oakland city officials announced today a new parking boot will be used in the city starting next week that allows drivers to pay on the spot to have the boot removed instead of having their vehicle towed.

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Starting Monday, the city will launch a SmartBoot vehicle immobilization program to allow motorists to immediately pay their parking fines and be back on the road in about five minutes after receiving a six-digit code to remove the boot.

The program is the first of its kind in California. About a dozen cities are using similar systems throughout the nation, including Baltimore and New Orleans.

There are about 68,000 vehicles with five or more delinquent parking tickets on file in Oakland, accounting for millions of dollars in debt owed to the city.

Although a large number of those vehicles may not be on the road anymore, Oakland officials project that the program could generate about $800,000 per year.

Under the current system, vehicles with five or more tickets are immobilized and immediately towed. Motorists are then forced to take an alternative mode of transportation to visit four different locations: the city's parking division, a police station, the DMV, and the tow yard.

Vehicles kept over an extended period of time can also accumulate storage fees at the tow yards, even after the motorists have paid their outstanding fines, according to city officials.

Under the new system, parking enforcement personnel will place the 16-pound boot on vehicles with delinquent parking tickets along with instructions for the device.

A toll-free number will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for motorists to pay their fines. All major credit and debit cards will be accepted.

Cash payments for vehicles will also still be accepted at the city's Parking Citation Assistance Center, located at the sixth floor at 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza. The office is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. between Monday and Friday.

Once the boot has been removed, it must be returned to one of two drop-off locations within 24 hours. The boot can be returned to Douglas Parking, located at 1721 Webster St., or B&B Towing, located at 8717 G St.

Anyone who has received a delinquent ticket notice is encouraged to pay it by phone at (510) 451-0456 or online at https://step1.caledoncard.com/tickets/oakland.html.

"The City of Oakland is interested in using new and innovative ways to streamline tedious processes for its citizens and employees," Deputy Police Chief David Kozicki said in a statement.

"This program is one of those ways, and it helps us manage the supply and demand of the city's limited on-street parking spaces," Kozicki said.

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