Parked during street cleaning hours: $63. Ouch. Parked on a hill without your wheels tilted the right way: $23. Ouch.
Parking can be difficult in West Hollywood, the 17th most densely populated city in the United States. And breaking the parking rules and regulations can be expensive.
Kevin Gorinshteyn wants to help. Actually he wants all of us to help one another by downloading and using OwlEyes, an app he has developed to alert your friends and neighbors (and even people you don’t know) if you notice they are violating one of those many parking rules.
Gorinshteyn is the founder of Epikta, a team of freelance web techies and designers from around the world that offers online marketing services, builds websites, provides SEO services, does animation and more. And because Gorinshteyn lives and works in West Hollywood, he knows the pain of a parking ticket.
“Street cleaning — that’s what gets me the most,” Gorinshteyn said. “I tried the whole alarm thing (setting your mobile phone to alert you on street cleaning day). I don’t like the beeps all night, so I turn it off.”
Apparently it doesn’t work for others either. “I go outside — every Monday, Tuesday is street cleaning day — and I see cars (with tickets), and I feel so bad for them,” Gorinshteyn said.
So Gorinshteyn decided to develop a free app to deal with the problem. Here’s how OwlEyes works: First, after downloading it (for Apple here or for Android here) you enter a screen name and choose an avatar. Next you put yourself in its database by entering your license plate and your mobile number (which isn’t disclosed to others by OwlEyes). Then, when you notice an at-risk car parked outside your apartment building or a bar or restaurant, and you’re in a generous mood, you enter that car’s license plate number and press to send the owner an alert. Gorinshteyn says there is a glitch with the optical character recognition feature, that accurately captures a license plate number only 80% of the time. But he’s working on that, and in the mean time you can type it in.
It’s that simple.
But, as Hillary Clinton has famously said, it takes a village. OwlEyes isn’t going to work unless all of us decide to use it. After all, your neighbor can’t warn you that Parking Enforcement will nail you if your license plate isn’t in the OwlEyes database. So Gorinshteyn is launching a campaign to get each of use to download the app and enter our license plate and mobile phone number so that friends, neighbors and friendly strangers can rescue us from that inevitable and expensive ticket.