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Tickets for Parking Near Closed Schools 'A Slap in the Face,' Residents Say

By  Darryl Holliday and Mike Brockway | August 29, 2013 11:03am 

 At least a dozen school zone tickets were issued around Lafayette Elementary despite closure: residents.
School Zone Parking Leaves Residents Miffed, and Fined, After Closure
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HUMBOLDT PARK — Lafayette Elementary may be closed, but residents living near the shuttered school say tickets are still being issued to vehicles parked near the school during weekdays — and the city is now scrambling to stop the wrongful citations.

The "no parking during school hours" signs at 2714 W. Augusta Blvd. were still in effect as of Tuesday, when neighbors woke to find tickets for $60 each tucked beneath their windshield wipers under a "no park/stand: time restriction" regulation.

Residents call the tickets a "slap in the face'' after the school closing.

"The sign says during school hours, but the school is closed. ... That's why we left the car there" resident Anadely Rios said. "It's unfair. They're giving tickets like crazy. ... They just want to give people the boot."

Rios' car was ticketed Tuesday morning at 9:50 a.m. — during the 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. "no parking" timeframe when elementary school students would have been on campus if the school were still open.

Rios plans to contest the ticket, and, according to Kathleen Oskandy, spokesperson for Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th), the odds are in her favor.

"We clearly need to remove those signs," Oskandy said Wednesday. "Now that we're aware, we're working with [the Chicago Department of Transportation] to have those signs removed."

When notified of the tickets by DNAinfo Chicago, the city agreed.

"If anyone has gotten a ticket in front of a closed school, for that specific infraction, obviously ... those tickets will all be withdrawn," said Dept. of Finance spokeswoman Kelley Quinn. "We've notified parking enforcement aides."

Humboldt resident Ian Lousiginau did not get a ticket, but was peeved when seeing the tickets on his neighbors' windshields. He said the dozen or so tickets he saw issued between Monday and Tuesday were the "icing on the cake" after the Lafayette situation.

Since the school closed there's been more trash due to removed garbage cans and "more people hanging out in the school parking lot," Louisignau said. "I think it shows how not well thought out the school closings were. ... They obviously weren't communicating with other departments. It's unsettling."

"Talk about a slap in the face to the residents of the community," Lousiginau wrote in an email to Ald. Maldonado. "We lost our school, which now leaves a square city block empty and abandoned ... and now residents are receiving tickets for parking in front of a closed school!"

Oskandy said the alderman is listening, and they are looking into removing school zone parking signs at Von Humbolt Elementary as well.

Patricia Jackowiak, director of the city’s Department of Administrative Hearings, believes drivers who fight a ticket like this would prevail at a hearing.

"Absolutely!" Jackowiak said when asked if someone who received a parking ticket under these circumstances could use the defense that the school was closed. "Just go to the CPS website and print out a list of closed schools just to show there is no longer a school there. Bring that in for an in-person hearing or they can contest by mail. That is absolutely a defense they can raise."

Jackowiak explained that the signs only apply when the school is in session. With the school closed, there is nothing to prohibit legally parking on that street.

And Quinn took it even further, saying the tickets would be withdrawn by the city. She passed along the following instructions for those slapped with the $60 fine:

"Anyone who has received a ticket for 'no parking during school hours' should call (312) 744-PARK as soon as possible. We will withdraw the ticket for that infraction. This is for any instances at a closed school this week. The tickets will be withdrawn and the motorist will not need to contest it. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused."