What the new parking meter agreement actually means for you

What the new parking meter agreement actually means for you

I've seen a lot of articles about the new Chicago Parking Meter agreement, and other than the fact that I know I'll have to pay until midnight to visit my sister in River North, I was having a hard time deciphering exactly what the deal was supposed to be and how it's supposed to be better for me, a taxpayer.  So, I decided to try to parse it out succinctly.

  • Free Sunday parking in the "neighborhoods" outside of the central business district.
  • Hours of meter operation extend until 10 p.m. in most neighborhoods.
  • In Streeterville, Gold Coast and River North, parking meters must be paid until midnight.
  • The option to feed your meter via cell phone. (Plus a 35-cent fee for every purchase.)
  • Individual aldermen can opt out of the free-Sunday deal if they think it would adversely affect retail areas in their district.

Let's be clear, the big bonus of this deal is "free" parking on Sundays in the neighborhoods, yet districts can (and more than a dozen likely will) opt out of this? Um, hmmm. I'd rather park for free after 9 p.m. in River North.

Yeah, Mayor Emmanuel, we hear you: "It's still a bad deal, and you can't fix it. It's that bad."

But you can make it worse. Thanks for that.

For more information and articles on the Chicago Parking Meter #EpicFail:



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  • Nice overview. Only 71 years until the lease expires, which means the high school Class of 2084 may be the first to get student driver permits not covered by this "improved" lease. For a funny lampoon of the lease deal, see "Should Rahm swap privatized park benches for parking meters?"

  • Parking downtown was prohibitive at about $18/day before the two parking garage tax hikes. Parking on a downtown street never made sense.

    The conclusion I reached long ago, but only reinforced by the "parking meter concession"* is that if I have business in the city, to take public transportation. And, since this is a cars column, to do purchasing in the suburbs (and buy gas in Lake County). One thing I noted after moving back to the area after an 18 year absence is that pretty much anything you used to have to do in the Loop can be done in the suburbs now. If I need to go to a city neighborhood, I did and would look for parking on a residential street a couple of blocks away, that is if it isn't full of spaces reserved for permits or for the handicapped.

    But one thing Emanuel has correct: Since Daley and the city council made a contract and spent the money, the only way out is to find money to buy out the contract, at probably $3 billion, which the city doesn't have and probably can't borrow.

    *For better or worse, city policy is anti-car. Relevant to the parking meter deal was that it and a parking tax increase were the conditions for a BRT "congestion mitigation" grant that didn't happen because Daley couldn't then push through the tax increase; Emanuel did. The CTA Tattler has stuff about the Ashland BRT, but if you look at the renderings, one of the objectives is to make driving on Ashland impossible, by taking out two lanes, left turns, and the right lane with sidewalk bump outs. Then there were articles saying that Klein wants to do something similar as a general policy to other streets, sans BRT.

    I'm not going to argue that shutting down transit is good policy in the city, but if you want to live there, there won't be a demand for a car column, but maybe one on the comparative features of New Flyer and Nova buses, not that there is much of any difference.

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