Update on stolen vehicles and ticketing in San Francisco

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On October 11, 2023, Mayor Breed issued an Executive Directive to protect owners of stolen cars from unnecessary ticketing. The Mayor directed the SFMTA to work with the San Francisco Police Department to identify a solution that ensures stolen vehicles are not unnecessarily ticketed, and that owners are notified, identify a technological solution to automate reviewing of license plates before issuing a ticket, and develop any necessary legislation to override existing prohibitions on the use of technology for this purpose. 

We are actively working to comply with Mayor Breed’s Executive Directive.  

While trying to resolve this issue, we have come to understand that the reason the SFMTA does not currently have access to a database of stolen vehicles is because the previous resource used by the City of San Francisco was discontinued. It is not because of the City’s Technology Ordinance (Administrative Code 19B). We had been extracting this data from an internal city-owned software system that was phased out by the vendor. Consequently, we now need to access the information in a different way.  

The SFMTA has exemptions under the City’s Surveillance Technology Ordinance (Administrative Code Section 19B) for its hand-held parking ticket devices, so our use of stolen car information from any source with this technology is also exempt from 19B. We also have 19B approval to use automated license plate reader technology and to share with or obtain from SFPD information about cars reported as stolen. To the extent that our agency needs to access or share stolen vehicle data directly with the state in connection with the automated license plate reader technology, we will likely need to update our 19B policy by going to the city’s Committee on Information Technology and to the Board of Supervisors for approval.  

To expedite our access to a new list of stolen vehicles, we have met with state agencies and are actively coordinating with other jurisdictions that may have already resolved similar challenges. We are also in discussions with the San Francisco Police Department to collaboratively address this matter.