Automated License Plate Recognition Policy

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) provides transportation and parking services for residents and visitors to the City of San Francisco.  SFMTA uses Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) to support this mission.

What Is ALPR?

ALPR is a camera system that takes a picture of a license plate and uses a computer algorithm to convert the image of the license plate, and the characters it contains, into computer-readable data (ALPR data).


SFMTA collects ALPR data for the purposes of managing SFMTA parking facilities and calculating parking fees, issuing citations for violations of parking laws and regulations, and collecting citation fines.  

Authorized Users

Parking enforcement officers, SFMTA staff and contractors involved in issuing citations and collecting parking citation fines, and parking facility operators are authorized to access ALPR data.


SFMTA conducts annual training of staff on the proper handling of personal information which includes ALPR data.  The training addresses appropriate handling and transmission procedures, as well as consequences of a ALPR data security breach.  SFMTA contractors and parking facility operators are required to provide similar training to their employees who access ALPR data.

Information Security

SFMTA utilizes physical access controls, computer application permission controls, and other technological, administrative, procedural, operational, and personnel security measures to record who has accessed ALPR data, the time and date of access, and reason for access, and to protect ALPR data from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure.

Official Custodian

The SFMTA’s Director of Security, Investigation and Enforcement is the Official Custodian of the SFMTA collected ALPR data and responsible for implementing this policy.


An ALPR Data Custodian performs a yearly audit to verify that all persons who access ALPR data are authorized to do so and that they have been properly trained.  The Data Custodian reviews ALPR data requests and verifies they were properly approved.  The Data Custodian also verifies that the SFMTA’s data retention policy has been properly enforced.

Information Sharing

SFMTA only shares ALPR data with employees and contractors who  responsible for processing citations and handling parking payments.  SFMTA does not sell ALPR data to anyone, nor is it disclosed to the public.  SFMTA will provide ALPR data to law enforcement if requested as part of a criminal investigation or if subpoenaed by a court or other public agency that has the legal authority to require the release of ALPR data.


Employees visually verify license plate data when a citation is issued or if there is a mismatch when a car leaves a parking facility. 

Data Retention

ALPR data is stored based on the following schedule:

•    License Plates collected, but not cited: Not retained
•    License Plates for issued parking citations: 5 years
•    License Plates for parking in a parking garage: 60 days