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Drivers Irked at Latest Parking Meter Development

By Quinn Ford | April 5, 2014 9:20am
 A proposed ordinance would end free Sunday parking in large, commerical stretches throughout the city.
A proposed ordinance would end free Sunday parking in large, commerical stretches throughout the city.
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DNAinfo/Mike Brockway

CHICAGO — When Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a revised parking meter privatization contract last year, he touted free Sunday parking in city neighborhoods as a major win for drivers.

But now it looks like Emanuel is rolling back free Sunday parking in many neighborhoods, a move some aldermen have been calling for since the new deal was announced.

And drivers are not happy about the change.

"I think we're getting the shaft again," Kevin Jackson said as he fed a parking meter in Lakeview. "That's what I think it is. We're getting the shaft."

In an ordinance submitted Wednesday, Emanuel moved to reinstate paid Sunday parking in parts of Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Portage Park, Wicker Park and Bucktown. Meters would run from 10 a.m. through 8 p.m.

The change is estimated to cost drivers an additional $1 million per year, according to a mayoral spokesman.

Last year, Emanuel used free Sunday neighborhood parking to justify concessions made to the parking meter operators in the renegotiated 75-year contract, which included extending parking meter hours from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in neighborhoods and extending hours to midnight downtown.

But the proposed ordinance ending free Sunday parking does not include rolling back meter hours in affected areas. Sunday revenues will go to address "true-ups" with Chicago Parking Meters — money lost by the company because of road closings for repaving, street fairs and the like, said city Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton.

Lakeview resident Patricia Gately said she wants to see the hours of operation shortened again before the revised ordinance takes effect.

"That is the only fair thing to do," Gately said. "Although I guess 'fair' isn't something we should expect out of this deal...It's almost funny how bad it is."

Although the announcement angered drivers like Jackson and Gately, some City Council members felt the change did not come soon enough.

Some aldermen and business leaders have said free Sunday parking leads to low turnover at meters, which means fewer people are able to park and shop in their neighborhoods.

Emilio Figueroa works at Broadway Video, a cafe and video store located on a stretch of North Broadway where free Sunday parking will end if the proposed ordinance passes.

Figueroa said anecdotally, he has not seen a significant drop in business on Sundays since the change took effect last year but said he does support reverting back to paid Sunday parking.

"Especially during Cubs games, people will just park here, and then our customers can't find parking because they can just park here all day," Figueroa said. "If they have to pay, I do think it's good for business."

But just because he thinks the change may be good for business does not mean Figueroa is happy about it, he said. His mother lives in an area that will see a rollback, and that means he will have to feed a meter to visit her on Sundays.

"So it's good and bad," Figueroa said. "It's good here because it keeps customers coming in, but at my mom's, I don't like it." 

In March, Emanuel released a study of the revised deal and touted millions in savings for city drivers. Free Sunday parking saved drivers about $8.7 million, according to city estimates. Even accounting for revenue from the extended meter hours, drivers still saved about $2.1 million, according to the study.

Although city officials said some changes to the ordinance may come in committee, it will most likely pass at next month's city council meeting.

The latest development "all smoke and mirrors," Jackson said.

"It ain't his fault that he got stuck with a bad deal," Jackson said of Emanuel. "But I just think he's rearranging chairs on the Titanic."

According to the ordinance submitted, areas to see paid Sunday parking include:

• North Broadway from Diversey Parkway to Cuyler Avenue

• North Halsted Street from Barry Avenue to Dakin Street

• North Clark Street from Diversey to Byron Street

• North Sheffield Avenue from Belmont Avenue to Clark

• West Roscoe Street from Kenmore Avenue to Wilton Avenue

• North Southport Avenue from Belmont to Byron

• West Addison Street from Wilton to Sheffield

• West Waveland Avenue from Clifton Avenue to Seminary Avenue

• West Irving Park Road from Clarendon Avenue to Kenmore

• North Sheridan Road from Byron to Cuyler

• West Belmont from Racine Avenue to Broadway

• North Milwaukee Avenue from Addison to Farragut Avenue

• North Cicero Avenue from Berenice Avenue to Berteau Avenue

• West Ainslie Street from Milwaukee to Lipps Avenue

• West Irving Park from Cicero to Lavergne Avenue

• North LaPorte Avenue from Irving Park to Belle Plaine Avenue

• West Belle Plaine from LaPorte to Cicero

• West Pensacola Avenue from LeClaire Avenue to Milwaukee

• North Lamon Avenue from Irving Park to Dakin

• West Montrose Street from Laramie Avenue to Lavergne

• West Agatite Avenue from LeClaire to Lavergne

• West Giddings Street from Milwaukee to London Avenue

• North London from Giddings to Lawrence Avenue

• North Lipps Avenue from Lawrence to Ainslie Street

• North Long Avenue from Higgins Avenue to Lawrence

• West Higgins from Milwaukee to Linder Avenue

• West Gale Street from Higgins to Milwaukee

• West Veterans Place from Long to Lockwood Avenue

• West Wellington Avenue from Southport to Greenview Avenue

• North Clybourn Avenue from Lakewood Avenue to Webster Avenue

• West Fullerton Avenue from Southport to Lakewood

• West North Avenue from Ashland Avenue to Winchester Avenue

• North Damen Avenue from North to Bloomingdale Avenue

• North Winchester from North to Wabansia Avenue

• North Wolcott Avenue from North to Wabansia

• North Milwaukee from North to Western Avenue

• West Division Street from Hoyne Avenue to Leavitt Street

• North Clybourn from North to Willow Street

• North Clybourn from Webster to Dickens Avenue

• North Lincoln Avenue from Diversey to Belmont

• North Greenview from Barry to Belmont

• North Ashland from Nelson Street to Belmont

• North Southport from Wellington to Nelson

Contributing: Ted Cox