Omaha considers new parking violation ordinance

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The City of Omaha is working on a new way to make sure people pay outstanding parking tickets.

The new proposal is working its way through the city council, and if approved, it could be easier on those who park and don't pay.

Money collected from parking meters adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

In 2018, more than 30,000 expired meter citations were issued. Violaters owed more than $450,000, but only around 21,800 people paid their tickets bringing in a total close to $349,000.

If a person is caught more than three times with a meter violation and doesn't pay the fine, the city will town the vehicle.

"Somebody come out and their vehicle's gone, they're calling saying my vehicle's been stolen, something's happened to it," Parking and Mobility Manager Ken Smith said.

City officials want to use a device called "the barnacle" instead of the parking boot. The device has two suction cups that apply about 1,000 pounds of pressure on the driver's side of the windshield. It can't be removed until you call the number on the device and give them a credit card number to release the device.

"It gives them a process to take care of their business. You get a code back, you punch the code in, fold it up, you're on with your day and it doesn't disrupt the person's day for the most part," Smith said. "You're going to pay and then we'll have a drop box here that you fold it up and actually return it in 24 hours."

Mary Murphy heard about the incentive to collect unpaid parking fines and said she thinks it's an improvement over the old method.

"That would be easier than going out to the tow yard wherever they take your car because you would need another car to bring you there," the Omaha resident said.

The best solution might just be to pay the fines when you're caught with the red meter light instead of having the barnacle attached to your windshield.

The proposed ordinance is on its first reading with the city council.