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Stopping Tickets In The Street Sweeper's Tracks

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

New Service Reminds Drivers To Move Cars By E-mail, Text

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By Diana Novak

If your sick and tired of getting tickets for forgetting to move your car on street cleaning day, then there's a new service just for you.

A new service has popped up for those of us looking to avoid yet another street sweeping season of the orange blight.

StopParkingTickets.com is the brainchild of Greg Bukowski and Molly Curry, an Old Town couple annoyed with the surge of parking tickets that inevitably follow the April 1 start of street cleaning.

For $9.99 a year, their service alerts Chicagoans of their street's day for regular street cleaning, through both an email the night before and a text message the morning of. The text message arrives with enough time before the 9 AM enforcement deadline to allow their clients to move their car to a safe place.



"We've both received more than our fair share of parking tickets, despite our efforts to always check for street sweeping signs," says Curry. "We found that too often, the signs are hard to see, spaced too far apart, or can't stand up to the wind, rain, and rowdy pedestrians common here in Chicago. I discovered that while street sweeping routes and schedules are posted on most of the city wards' websites, it's difficult to make sense of the rhyme or reason behind it, and especially if you live in the vicinity of more than one ward."

Curry gives most of the credit for the idea to Bukowski, her fiancé and partner in the venture. The service launched in June 2009, so this street cleaning season will be their first full season in business. They currently have just under 100 clients in eight wards, but the service is tailored to the needs of its subscribers: you give them your information and they stay on top of your neighborhood's cleaning schedule.

Curry and Bukowski have been getting the word out on their service primarily from personally placing fliers on the windshields of cars fresh from the sting of another street cleaning parking ticket.

And, while they work to wrest parking ticket revenue from the hands of the Department of Revenue, they are careful to stay on the city's good side.

"We're not opposed to street sweeping itself," says Curry. "We're simply frustrated with the inefficient ways in which our fellow residents are notified of it; we realize those tickets can add up for even the most innocent, diligent street-parkers. We simply want to help those parkers save their hard earned money in these hard times, and we're happy to help the city clear the street so they can beautify our blocks!"

While they have not spoken to the Department of Revenue about their business, Curry and Bukowski are confident the DOR would not have a problem with it. "We do have faith that the intentions behind Chicago's street sweeping is exactly that, to sweep the streets, and not, as some have suggested to us, to create an excuse to ticket its fine citizens," says Curry.

While previously unaware of StopParkingTickets, the Department of Revenue does not seem find any issue with the service Curry and Bukowksi provides.

"I, personally, was unaware of this service," says DOR spokesperson Ed Walsh via e-mail. "While we cannot endorse a private service, it may benefit motorists assuming the
information is accurate and timely."

Recent attempts to cut costs through the city's street sweeping plans, however, may have some serious side effects for those attempting to avoid parking tickets.

Mayor Daley's recent rearrangement of the street cleaning schedules, begun just eight days before the April 1st start of street cleaning season, had some residents worried and befuddled.

In fact some alderman had already sent copies of the new street sweeping schedule out to constituents before changes went into effect.

After initially suggesting a grid-based system, Daley and aldermen settled for a compromise that has sweepers remaining in the ward four out of five days of the week, and working to sweep adjacent wards for the equivalent of one day a week.

How is Stop Parking Tickets planning to deal with this curve ball? These changes could make their service invaluable, but keeping up with them is seems like a Hurculean task.

But Curry is confident that she can stay on top of her game. "All we can do is promise our subscribers that if the information is out there, we will get it to them," she says. "We are cross-referencing those few schedules that have been put out there by individual wards with those offered by the city, constantly checking and re-checking for any changes or updates, and hoping that our subscribers can bear with us."

How this plan works out, for both the city and Stop Parking Tickets, remains to be seen. There is great potential for an increase in street cleaning tickets here, but Stop Parking Tickets is doing their best to ensure that this won't happen. "Last season we could map out each person's notifications for the year and schedule them accordingly. But until the city gets this figured out, it's like we're starting from square one every day."

For more information on this service, check out the StopParkingTickets.com website.



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