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Avoid These Fire Hydrants if You Don't Want a Ticket

By Tanveer Ali | September 3, 2014 5:13am
 Here are some the city's most ticketed locations for fire hydrant-related violations.
Fire hydrant tickets
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ENGLEWOOD — When it comes to parking tickets issued at fire hydrants, the spot drawing the most heat in the city is in front of a 63rd Street liquor store that opened in 2012.

"It happens all the time," said Issa Tadros, co-owner of I&S Wine and Spirits, 1025. W. 63rd St. "People step in for two minutes — and they're ticketed so fast. The drivers never even see the hydrant."

Between Aug. 18, 2012, and Aug. 17, 2014, drivers have been ticketed 877 times at that hydrant, based on an analysis of 4.9 million parking tickets issued citywide during that period.

That's more than twice the number of tickets issued in front of the city's second most-ticketed hydrant location, 5558 W. North Ave. in Austin. That hydrant, also in front of a liquor store, netted the city $21,800 on 372 parking tickets.

Tanveer Ali discusses how he gathered and analyzed the data:

Overall, the $150 fire hydrant tickets represent a small chunk of 4.9 million parking tickets issued in the city. The 100,271 fire hydrant tickets during that period have resulted in $7.7 million paid to the city.

The 10 hydrants that draw the most parking tickets across the city are:

• 1025 W. 63rd St. in Englewood, 877 tickets and $48,204 collected.

• 5558 W. North Ave. in Austin, 372 tickets and $21,801 collected. (A hydrant down the block at 5534 W. North Ave. was the site of 167 tickets that resulted in $8,004 being collected.)

• 802 N. Lavergne Ave. in Austin, 368 tickets and $18,058 collected.

• 733 W. 79th St. in Auburn Gresham, 362 tickets and $26,463 collected.

• 9155 S. Ashland Ave. in Washington Heights, 301 tickets and $21,177 collected.

• 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park, 290 tickets and $26,737 collected. (A hydrant across the street at 1537 N. Milwaukee Ave. was the site of 129 tickets that resulted in $10,004 being collected.)

• 801 N. Lockwood Ave. in Austin, 274 tickets and $13,216 collected.

• 230 E. Ohio St. in Streeterville, 261 tickets and $22,623 collected.

• 18 S. Wabash Ave. in the Loop, 235 tickets and $20,722 collected.

• 1302 S. Halsted St. in University Village, 207 tickets and $18,864 collected.

Tadros said that before his liquor store moved across the street to its current location, no one used to park in front of the hydrant.

"I'm not surprised that there are so many tickets there," Tadros said.

From an enforcement perspective, that hydrant is no different than any other, officials said.

"All fire hydrants are of equal importance in each district," said Chicago Police Department spokesman Martin Maloney. "A fire hydrant on a main street may receive more attention because of the location, but is not a higher priority than a hydrant anywhere else."

In Wicker Park, Ken Lubinski, owner of Lubinski Furniture, which sits behind the neighborhood's biggest hydrant-related ticket magnet, says he's not surprised by the high number of tickets issued at that location — with the weekends being especially bad.

"The cars park there one after another," Lubinski said.

About 21 percent of the 290 tickets issued in front of the Lubinski hydrant were issued on a Saturday, the highest of any day of the week.

Of course, fear of getting a parking ticket isn't the only reason drivers should avoid parking near hydrants, said Larry Langford, a Fire Department spokesman.

"When a car is in the way, we have two choices: find another hydrant or go through the car with an ax," Langford said. "It's not our top choice, and it doesn't happen often. But if we have to tear up a car, we'll do it. We'd much rather the car not be there."

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