Empty parking spaces are one of the hottest commodities in downtown Oklahoma City. They're also costing the city more than a million dollars.
Why? Thousands of drivers who find parking tickets on their windshields, but don't pay.
Police Service Technician Chris Lott spends his days on downtown streets, looking for parking violators. We followed along on his route and in just a matter of minutes, we couldn't believe the number of delinquent drivers.
Oklahoma City police Captain Don Martin said some drivers are upset they have to pay to park or face a fine. But there's a logical explanation.
"It creates turnover," Captain Martin said. "It allows businesses to have customer base that comes in and out."
And without meters, Captain Martin said we'd have people abusing it, parking there all day.
There are plenty of people abusing it too. We got a list of unpaid Oklahoma City parking tickets. There are currently more than 18,000, totally more than $1.5 million.
We decided to track down some of the biggest parking abusers. Our first stop, a man who owes $400.
"I'll get around to it," he said. "Just running through some tough times."
Another woman said she's on a payment plan with the city and had the receipts to prove it. But when we stopped by, she still owed $900.
She told us, "I told that judge, I don't owe 'em, but I accept 'em. Because I don't wanna go to jail."
Others were even harder to find. That's a challenge the city has as well.
"The ticket is written to the car and then we have to determine who's responsible for the car. Some of those people may not be here," said Oklahoma City Courts Director, Stacey Davis.
In other cases, we had the right house, but the wrong family member. One gentleman told us it was probably his son who got the tickets.
The city has one message for violators.
"If you did it, just pay it before it's due," Davis said.
In most cases, we have 15 days to pay the fine or the price goes up. Let it slide more than three weeks, a warrant could be issued for our arrest. If we still don't pay, the city will call us in for a hearing. Don't pay then and you get another ticket, your car may get fitted with a boot.
We checked with the city and in some cases, the judge will allow you to make payments on your tickets.
Oklahoma City Municipal Court Parking Violations
Parking Violation Amount If Paid On Time Amount After Warrant Issued
Parked at expired meter $15.00 $54.00
Parked on unpaved residential yard $100.00 $155.00
Parked with improper tag $100.00 $130.00
Overtime parking $15.00 $54.00
No parking anytime $50.00 $100.00
Parked in restricted area $50.00 $100.00
Parked wrong way on two way $15.00 $54.00
Parked in passenger loading zone $15.00 $54.00
Parked in a fire lane $100.00 $155.00
Physically disabled parking $150.00 $230.00