RALEIGH, N.C. — Along with their pens and ticket books, Raleigh meter readers are now carrying digital cameras.
Hundred of tickets written on the new Fayetteville Street within weeks of opening resulted in scores of complaints afterward. Many people who visited the area said meter readers in downtown Raleigh were too aggressive in their ticket writing and policy enforcement.
City leaders said they hope the cameras will help capture the full picture what's happening downtown. The ticket writers will document a parking violation in downtown Raleigh from different angles.
Ticket writers digitally documented Charles Thomas' parking mistake on Wednesday. He was parked more than 12 inches away from the curb.
Thomas said he doesn't like the idea of adding cameras to the mix. He said the measure is "too much policing."
Over the last year, more than 4,700 drivers were cited for parking too far away from the curb in downtown Raleigh. Many of those drivers have blamed the tickets on overzealous ticket writers and inconsistencies with the rules.
City leaders told the parking contractor that if they give someone a ticket for parking too far from the edge of the roadway, they should now measure the distance with a ruler and take a picture. The new policy went into effect Wednesday.
"It's a shame we have to go with this," said Raleigh City Council member Philip Isley.
Isley serves as chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee on the council. That committee has lead the way in trying to tackle parking problems downtown.
Isley lobbied to change the distance to 18 inches in the downtown district. Some members didn't support his idea because they believed that having different distances in different parts of the city would be too confusing for motorists. Isley said he believes the cameras are a compromise that can lead to consistency in enforcement.
"This is really a way for the public to understand why they got a ticket, as well as provide accountability for the people writing the tickets," he said.
Ticket writers said they are focused on vehicles that are parked so far away from the curb that they obstruct the street traffic.
Part of the existing policy said drivers should get one warning before they are issued a ticket. City leaders say that hasn't always happened in the past, so they're re-emphasizing the one-warning rule. If someone wants to contest a ticket they've gotten, the pictures will stay on file to use in the appeals process.
One couple who parked downtown Wednesday won't have to go that far. They came back to their car as the pictures were being shot of their violation. They were spared the $12 fine for being parked too far away from the sidewalk.
Even though they didn't get a ticket, the passenger in the vehicle said they still think the cameras are obtrusive.
"I think it's a bit much. I think its overkill," she said.