City parking portal puzzles some residents

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The deadline to renew/register your Seal Beach parking permit is Jan. 31. The Seal Beach Police Department is now in charge of parking permits. The program has become virtual: no more physical permits or guest passes.

The Seal Beach parking website has changed. If you had an account before, you’ll have to create a new one.

Not everyone is happy about the new system. Some Seal Beach residents have complained about the parking permit portal on local social media.

According Capt. Michael Ezroj, however, the overwhelming majority of public responses to the new system has been positive—including those who had to call the police to get help registering online.

During a recent phone interview, Ezroj said more than 500 individuals had completed permit applications through the website.

The city’s parking consultant provided the Sun with data on registration for the old permit system.

“Based on the reports provided from Data Ticket (the City’s parking permit vendor), 517 individual permit holders purchased permits between 11/01/2019-01/11/2020 and 271 individual permit holders purchased permits between 12/16/2020-01/11/2021,” wrote Julie Dixon, of Dixon Resources Unlimited in a Jan. 13 email.

Social media complaints about the parking system included having difficulty using the website, difficulty in getting their addresses recognized and what some residents see as the complexity of the application process. Still others are concerned about seniors without computer access being able to get their permits.

“I think that it’s a mess,” said Elizabeth Kane.

“Our address didn’t come up,” Kane said.

“And we’re computer-savvy people,” she said.

She said she spent an hour on Saturday, Jan. 9, helping an 80-year-old friend register. Kane specifically expressed concern for seniors without computer access.

Resident Bill Ayres, who was also concerned about seniors without computer access, said he had to get help from the police commander.

Kane acknowledged that SBPD had been responsive. However, she was not pleased with design of the parking web portal. She said she didn’t know what kind of user testing was done on the website. Kane said she did user testing for 30 years in her job.

“We tested it several times,” Capt. Ezroj said.

As for people seeking help with the website, Ezroj advised the public to call (562) 799-4100. He said if no one answers, an officer will call back. He said the company providing the portal also has customer service.

The city website also has a 28-page guidebook for using the portal. It’s a PDF file that you can download for free.

A common complaint on social media was about the all-virtual guest pass.

Kane said there should have been a hybrid guest pass program.

Resident Bill Ayres wondered how someone without a computer would get a guest pass. Ayres preferred the physical guest passes the city used to issue.

However, according to Ezroj, the physical guest passes were sometimes lost or stolen. He said officers sometimes couldn’t see them.

Ayres said the new system invaded the community’s privacy. “Why should the police department have a record of who is coming over to visit?” Ayres asked.

However, Lt. Nick Nicholas, the SBPD’s spokesman, said the police don’t care who is visiting and doesn’t need to know when they are visiting.

“All we need to know is their license plate so the plate can be entered into the system,” Nicholas said.

He also said the SBPD doesn’t need to know when someone is visiting. Lt. Nicholas said a guest pass is valid from the when it is entered to when it is removed or replaced by the user.

Ezroj said the city plans to have kiosks at both the SBPD and City Hall once COVID restrictions are lifted.

City parking  portal  puzzles some residents