No one likes a parking ticket — especially during a pandemic. And if left unpaid, that pesky piece of paper can quickly double in price.
People with outstanding tickets, however, are getting a break. San Jose lawmakers Sept. 15 unanimously approved temporarily forgiving late fees on citations issued on or before March 19.
“While late and collection fees serve a much-needed purpose — to motivate the timely payment of parking citations — for those with multiple outstanding citations, the cumulative unpaid amount can become overwhelming over time,” John Ristow, the city’s director of transportation, said in a memo.
Parking tickets must be paid or contested in 21 days. Left unpaid, a $60 ticket could turn into a $95 charge and eventually a $135 charge, according to the memo.
On March 19, the city stopped ticketing due to shelter-in-place mandates, allowing residents to park for free. While this provided short-term relief, paid parking and enforcement of parking violations resumed Aug. 17.
San Jose residents owe a collective $25 million in parking fees, according to Ristow, despite the city’s efforts to collect and provide payment programs for low-income individuals.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, as many as 235,000 citations were issued each year in San Jose. The city is able to collect on 80% of these tickets. Most drivers who have outstanding tickets have two to five unpaid citations.
“The Amnesty Program is intended to make it easier for those with outstanding citations to pay off their balances during this challenging time while at the same time preserving the city’s right to continue to pursue the collection of the full amount owed,” Ristow wrote.
The city of Riverside in Southern California adopted a similar program and was able to collect 12.7% of owed fees. If this same model is applied to San Jose, the program will return around $1.65 million to the city.
Turbo Data, the city’s parking citation processing and collections vendor, will send a letter to people with outstanding tickets to the address the Department of Motor Vehicles has on file for them. The letter will explain the program, timelines for repayment and how much is owed.
Additional information on the program will be posted on the Department of Transportation website.
The program expires Jan. 21.
Contact Carly Wipf at [email protected] of follow @CarlyChristineW on Twitter.