San Marcos to spend $38,000 annually to help stop accessible-parking violations

The city of San Marcos will soon start using Parking Mobility, a smartphone app that engages citizens in the process of enforcing when people park illegally in accessible parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities.

The city of San Marcos will soon start using Parking Mobility, a smartphone app that engages citizens in the process of enforcing when people park illegally in accessible parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities.

San Marcos City Council voted Tuesday to move forward with a program that will enforce violations of accessible-parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities with the help of volunteers and a mobile app.

Council members approved spending $38,000 annually on the program. The money will cover the Parking Mobility software app that links to the city's court system as well as training and support expenses.

The system works like this: Volunteers sign up and when they witness a violation, they can log it on the Parking Mobility app.

Violations logged by nontrained volunteers are used solely for statistical purposes. Violations logged by trained volunteers who have taken a four-hour course will be reviewed by Parking Mobility staff, then sent to the San Marcos Police Department for review.

If the police department issues a summons and a fine, the violator can either show up in court and pay the fine or take an online or in-person education class.

"There will be an annual cost for this service but staff feels it may become expense-neutral as potential revenue may offset the annual cost," staff wrote in city documents.

"The program aims to reduce recidivism in these violations through education and really by getting uninformed motorists to understand the impact of those violations and parking in those accessible spaces when they shouldn't be," San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp said. "The aim of the project is to get more eyes on the problem and help us do a better job of dealing with those violations as they occur."

The program will take about 30-60 days to become active, as city staff must create training videos and train themselves on how the program works before accepting volunteers.

The app can be downloaded on both Android and iOS devices. Hays County has used the app for several years. The county paid $65,000 during the first year of service and now pays $5,000 per year as part of a maintenance agreement with Parking Mobility, which is a nonprofit organization.

"This is just a wonderful program," Council Member Melissa Derrick said, adding she has already received inquiries from interested citizens who want to become volunteers.