HYDE PARK — Cars can now legally be booted on private property in more than half the city after the ban in the 31st Ward was lifted when the owner of a parking management company took the unusual step of personally introducing legislation to City Council.
On July 29, City Council passed an ordinance that lifts a ban on booting cars on private property in the 31st Ward submitted by Joseph Grillo of Global Parking Management through a little-used process that allows any citizen to submit legislation.
“Ald. [Milly] Santiago (31st) has a lot more important things to worry about,” Grillo said Tuesday. “I took the chance to do a citizen’s introduction.”
Santiago said on Tuesday it was unusual, but added she did not oppose the ordinance after meeting with Grillo.
Grillo’s company contracts with property owners to boot cars illegally parked in their lots while the driver runs across the street to get groceries for example. It can cost up to $140 to get the boot removed.
But the practice is only allowed in wards where the alderman has amended the municipal code to sanction it. Twenty-eight wards now allow the practice, including areas along the lakefront from downtown to Rogers Park and neighborhoods around both airports.
Sam Cholke explains how any Chicagoan can introduce legislation:
After recent changes in the 31st and 2nd wards on July 29 and ordinances this year for the 29th and 35th wards, booting cars on private property is now legal in more than half of the city.
The move by Grillo to go straight to City Council, rather than asking the alderman to submit the change, would seem to raise some red flags, particularly since Grillo only identified himself as a Chicago citizen when submitting the ordinance for a ward with a new alderman.
Patrick Corcoran, a spokesman for the City Clerk’s Office, said any citizen can submit an ordinance as long as it’s formatted correctly. He said the clerk’s office only reviews formatting and not the content of the legislation, but will notify the affected aldermen of the proposal.
Digital GreenSigns unsuccessfully tried to use this tool in 2013 in an attempt to skirt opposition by some local aldermen to the installation of LED signs.
But Santiago said she met with Grillo and gave his ordinance her blessing.
“I met with him and went through the whole thing,” Santiago said Tuesday. “We didn’t think it was absolutely necessary to have it introduced by me as the alderman.”
Santiago said she will be listening for complaints to determine whether to continue allowing booting cars on private property.
The practice has elicited strong complaints in some neighborhoods, with one man attacking one of Grillo’s employees with a hammer after finding his car booted outside Spin Cycle Laundromat in Rogers Park.
Ald. Scott Waguespack considered reinstating the ban for the 32nd Ward after complaints from residents.
Grillo said he didn’t introduce the ordinance to expand his business but to hold on to some of his oldest customers.
He said he lost about 15 percent of his business when ward boundaries were redrawn and customers were moved into wards that ban the boot. He said when he submitted the ordinance in June he was desperate to keep contracts at two parking lots in Belmont Cragin that he’d held for more than 15 years.
Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) also lifted a ban on boots on July 29 at the urging of Grillo and customers redrawn into the ward.
The 29th and 35th wards have also lifted restrictions on booting this year.
Grillo said he has no plans to introduce more legislation himself and won’t pursue change the rules for other wards unless there are customers there demanding it.
Wards where parking boots are allowed on private property include:
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: