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CHICAGO STREET PARKING RATES INCREASE AGAIN WITH THE NEW YEAR - Chicago Drivers, Lawmakers Still Cry Foul Over 2009 Meter Lease!


Ahhh, yes!  Chicago Politics at its absolute finest!

Late in 2008, the Chicago City Council virtually rubber-stamped, with little debate, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's program to lease the Chicago Parking Meter System - thousands of meters across the city - to a private company.  In return for this 75-Year Lease, the City received an up-front payment of $1.2 Billion, plus all of the collected fines from meter violations.  The private firm keeps all of the meter fees, in exchange for updating and maintaining the updated Chicago Street Parking System.

The first move of the private company - to quadruple the long-standing 25-cents-per-hour meter fees in Chicago Neighborhoods, and double them in the Chicago Loop.  Now, as reported by John Byrne in the Chicago Tribune, effective January 4, 2010, or as soon as the Parking Pay Boxes on the streets are re-programmed, drivers will pay $1.25 per hour to park on arterial streets in neighborhoods across the city, $4.25 for the same hour in Downtown Chicago and The Loop.

Early in 2009, the new Parking System Lease drew immediate fire.  Old Parking Meters were slow to be replaced by the new, larger, credit-card-compatible Pay Boxes, and the old meters did not have the capacity to collect so many quarters from parkers.  They broke down repeatedly.

New Pay Boxes did not always work properly, and many motorists were ticketed with a minimum $50 fine when they did not overstay their parking space.  Appealing errant citations became difficult, as the city cut the budget for Parking Adjudicators as a cost-saving move.  Such a citation appeal can now take hours at a neighborhood City of Chicago Traffic Court.

Mayor Daley took the heat, City Alderman were criticized, and the City of Chicago changed its procedure for approving new city contracts.  The Chicago City Council now requires notice and debate before a similar sell off in city assets is approved.

At first, Daley pledged to set aside $400 Million from the Meter Lease proceeds to draw interest to counter the estimated $20 Million in lost city parking revenue under the new lease.  But he later drew out $270 Million from this reserve to help balance the Deficit-Laden City of Chicago Budget.

While motorists seethe, and Chicago Aldermen point fingers, the new Parking System Operator, Chicago Parking Meters LLC,  extols the technical superiority of the new program.  Now, they contend, drivers no longer have to fish for quarters to feed meters.

Instead, they simply need to reach for their credit cards!


Posted: Sunday, January 03, 2010 8:47 PM by Dean's Team


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