A new automated system that allows San Luis Obispo officers to scan images of parked cars and their license plates while patrolling streets will make it easier to enforce parking laws and record parking data, according to city officials.

The city has been rolling out its new automated license plate recognition system after the City Council approved the new program in July. The system is produced by Genetec.

Scott Lee, San Luis Obispo’s parking services manager, said hundreds of warnings were issued to violators last week, with the start of citations beginning Monday at the discretion of the patrolling officers.

Scanning devices mounted atop city-operated parking services vehicles will provide a data-driven technology tool to help officers do their jobs, city officials say.

Up until now, SLO parking officers have used chalk to mark tires in a time-restricted zone, or they have taken note of cars in violation of time limits, before issuing tickets.

The automated readings come as parking has become increasingly tight in the downtown as well as on city streets around Cal Poly.

“This new system will allow us to be a lot more accurate,” Lee said. “But our goal here is not to punish people or to try to make money from this. We’re just trying to make sure the laws are being followed because that helps free up spaces.”

The City Council approved the allocation of $80,000 for the new system.

The cameras are capable of taking rapid images of parked cars and license plates as officers drive along streets, and the images are stored for retrieval. Officers can review the captured images of parked cars and license plates to determine violations.

“Some people might be concerned about privacy, but we’re not trying to capture any information about you,” Lee said. “We won’t care whose car it is, just that a blue Honda is parked on Morro Street, for example. But people should realize they’re parking on a public street and anyone can take a picture of their car.”

Lee also said some workers in the downtown area tend to park their cars on city streets for extended periods during the day. Some exceed the time limits in one spot, or move their vehicles but fail to relocate them farther away than the required 500 feet, Lee said.

Parking officials will coordinate with police to locate stolen vehicles and provide data for wanted or high-risk people or at-risk missing people.

©2018 The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.