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San Marcos to track license plates for parking enforcement

The city of San Marcos is about to start using license plate readers for parking enforcement. (Photo: city of San Marcos)

The City of San Marcos is about to track license plates to enforce parking.

San Marcos is currently testing license plate readers on city trucks in order to enforce parking ordinances. Cameras on top of the trucks track license plates and records the time and GPS coordinates. If that vehicle is still there more than two hours later, then the vehicle would get a ticket.

“We’re moving forward to a new generation of enforcement technology,” the city’s Kevin Burke said.

Burke works in economic development for the city and says their current process is for crews to walk around streets and mark tires. “With the LPR they’ll be able to do it much more efficiently,” Burke said.

Burke said this will help with a growing parking problem. Workers, tourists, shoppers and students all compete for parking downtown and the surrounding area.

“It’s all over town, not just on the square. It’s everywhere, there’s no parking here in San Marcos,” Café on the Square manager Lauren Morrow said.

Morrow said it’s been a frustrating issue that’s also affected their business. “There are a lot of older customers that come in here and if they can’t find parking right in here, they’re not going to walk,” Morrow said.

She also believes students park on the square and then walk to class. “I see it all the time, get out with their backpacks and just get out walk to the university and their cars sit here for hours all day,” Morrow said.

Some said they want the city to go further and install parking meters. Burke said they’ve thought about that, but there isn’t enough interest across the city. “We’ve not made a determination as to exactly when or how we will move forward with charging for parking, but it’s certainly on our radar,” Burke said.

Burke said the cameras will only be used for parking. They will not be used for law enforcement to find people with warrants. He also said the information will not be sold or distributed. “They are for parking enforcement purposes only,” Burke said.

Burke said they will fully start the readers before March 1. The three year contract with the Cedar Park company NuPark will cost the city about $164,000 in its first year. After that it will cost about $52,000 each year.

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