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West Loop Mid-Day Parking Ban Quietly Ended, But New Restrictions Proposed

By Chloe Riley | May 14, 2014 6:53am
 West Loop community groups have proposed removing the 1:30-3:30 p.m. parking restrictions.
West Loop community groups have proposed removing the 1:30-3:30 p.m. parking restrictions.
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DNAinfo/Chloe Riley

WEST LOOP — A mid-day parking ban in the West Loop aimed at discouraging suburban "day trippers" from parking in the area and heading Downtown quietly ended after neither residents nor businesses supported it, but now community groups are pushing new restrictions prohibiting morning rush-hour parking and adding meters on Madison Street.

The pilot program, which started July 10 and ran for six months, prohibited drivers from parking along select neighborhood streets from 1:30-3:30 p.m. on weekdays.

But the restrictions were "not received overly well," said Armando Chacon, president of the West Central Association. The program made "the parking situation even worse."

Chloe Riley joins DNAinfo Radio to discuss changes to West Loop parking rules:

Although the ban was able to reduce day trippers, local residents didn’t like it because there was no exception for them, Chacon said. Businesses didn’t like it because customers couldn't park on the street during the middle of the day.

Since the restrictions technically ended in December, drivers can now park in what had been restricted areas and not get tickets — even despite the "no parking" signs that remain in place while officials decide what to do going forward, said Jeff Taylor, president of the West Loop Community Organization, which pushed for the original ban.

But Chacon disagreed with Taylor's assessment that anyone can park in the spaces and advised that - until the new parking restrictions go into place - residents should continue to avoid parking in the restricted parking spaces.

Chacon's and Taylor's groups are a part of a committee that have met in recent months and have created new recommendations that would lift the ban but still discourage day trippers. The group has met with Alds. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), Danny Solis (25th), Bob Fioretti (2nd) and Jason Ervin (28th) — all of whose wards contain some of the areas where parking is restricted — and they agree with lifting the ban, the community groups said.

Those recommendations include restricting parking from 7-9 a.m. along multiple residential streets — including streets where parking had been banned mid-day. But the groups propose additional stretches such as Racine between Washington and Monroe; Bishop and May between Washington and Madison; and Peoria and Sangamon between Monroe and Van Buren.

Residents, however, would be able to obtain a permit to park on those streets at those times. Parking permit fees could go to pay for any new signage, the community groups said.

The groups also propose adding meters on Madison between Racine and Ashland avenues.

The metered parking on Madison will "allow for increased turnover of parking on a street with an increasing number of businesses," according to an April letter sent by the West Central Association to the four aldermen and a Department of Transportation official.

Fioretti, who contributed $10,000 in aldermanic ward funds to pay for the signs outlining the original parking ban, said via email that not continuing the current restrictions would work better for the neighborhood.

According to Burnett, the parking committee plans to meet once more to finalize the recommendations, but it will ultimately be up to city officials to sign off on the new restrictions or new meters.

Officials with the Departments of Revenue and Transportation did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

But Burnett said he still has concerns that adding metered parking to Madison won't help with turnover, as drivers can now pay their meters remotely using a cellphone via a city-wide mobile payment system currently being piloted in the neighborhood.

"The city just put in this program where you can call over the phone to pay for your meter. So how does that really get rid of the day trippers?" asked Burnett, who said he will be pushing to limit that program's reach.