VANCOUVER, Wash. -- The City of Vancouver is cracking down on people who live in the city but have their car registered in another state.
It’s a problem the city says costs them around $300,000 each year.
Tasked with identifying problem drivers: police department volunteers.
Vancouver police this week launched an “out-of-state plate” program aimed at reducing the amount of drivers not following the law. A Vancouver police study conducted between August 2016 and April 2017 found that roughly 10 percent of Vancouver residents had vehicles registered in another state.
Drivers who don’t register their cars in Vancouver, don’t pay a $20 vehicle license fee to the city.
“This rate of noncompliance results in potential lost revenue of $300,000 annually that is allocated to Transportation Improvement Program projects,” police said in a press release.
The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) identifies and implements local transportation projects.
“It doesn’t bother me. I understand the city of Vancouver has its economic needs just like any other city,” said Jason Ferguson, who moved to Vancouver from Portland a couple of months ago.
Like many others, Ferguson had delayed registering his car, currently with Oregon plates, in Washington.
“This is kind of skirting the system,” he admitted.
Looking for drivers like Ferguson are members of the Vancouver Police Department's Neighbors on Watch (NOW) program. According to police, NOW volunteers will patrol neighborhoods to identify cars that might be violating registration rules. Cars with out of state plates may receive an informational postcard with a reminder about registration laws. The volunteers then report their findings to police staff who follow up with vehicle owners.
As part of the effort, Vancouver police has also created a web page with information on the state’s laws, along with a form where neighbors can report drivers they believe may have failed to register their cars.
“I totally understand why they would expect a fee to register your car here. I’m not sure the vigilante style of going around and checking people’s license plates is very helpful,” Ferguson said. of
Don Bergren, a Vancouver resident whose sister lives near Ferguson in the Hudson’s Bay neighborhood, expressed some concern, too.
“The idea of neighbor turning on neighbor to me just doesn’t feel right,” said Bergren. “That’s a tough one. It’s just not something I would do.”