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October 1, 2018

Bangor to start digital parking enforcement

Courtesy / City of Bangor
Courtesy / City of Bangor
A map shows the Bangor Downtown Parking Management Zone. Parking in the zone will be enforced by license recognition technology starting this week.

The Bangor City Council held a special meeting on Oct. 1 to appoint parking constables — the final step in its move to use digital parking enforcement in the Downtown Parking Management District.

The license recognition technology is expected to be more efficient in recognizing violations, helping on-street parking turn over more quickly downtown, city officials have said.

The constables will be in vehicles that have two cameras mounted on top that are equipped with license recognition technology, known commonly as LPR. The cameras take about 400 photos an hour are notify the constable, as it scans licenses, if a car is is in violation and whether a ticket should be issued.

Since the technology recognizes license plates and also snaps photos of tires, showing the position of tire valves, it's more efficient than the system of patrol officers chalking tires.

The Bangor Daily News reported in July that 8,619 parking citations were issued across the city in 2017, with 7,388 issued downtown.

On-street parking is free in downtown Bangor, with no meters. Time limits range from one to two hours, depending on location. The Downtown Parking Management District includes the heart of downtown, stretching from the Penobscot River stretching roughly south to Railroad Street, north to Broadway and west to Harlow Street.

City Community and Economic Development Director Tanya Emery said the new system is aimed at prompting long-term parkers to use garages and lots.

State law mandates that a license recognition system may only use information entered by a law enforcement officer. The city contracts with Tennessee-based Republic Parking for its parking enforcement and councilors will vote on appointing two employees of the company as constables when they're working on behalf of the city enforcing parking, according to an email that accompanies the meeting agenda.

The law also sets forth confidentiality requirements and a requirement data not be stored for more than 21 days. The information in Bangor will be deleted from the system within 72 hours, officials have said. Maine and New Hampshire are the only states that have laws regulating the use of the technology, according to the ACLU and Electronic Information Privacy Center.

The law was passed after South Portland started using the technology in 2010.

"We have had a positive relationship with Republic Parking for years as they have managed our off-street parking," the agenda item says. "Additionally, they manage dozens of other LPR systems in various cities throughout the United States so this seemed like a natural fit."

According to its website, Republic manages parking in 330 municipalities in the U.S.

The city council approved $31,000 for the program in June, including a $12,000 management fee for the service and a $4,700 a year lease for the hybrid car Republic Parking will use.

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