Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Near the end of 2008, the city of Chicago, with no public input and a minimum, absolute minimum of scrutiny from the city council, rubber-stamped the mayor's deal to sell the city's parking meters to a private firm for a one-time payment of $1.2 billion.
The firm then changed the rates on the meters. It now costs 25 cents to park for 15 minutes in the city, working out to $1 an hour and in time, that rate is expected to jump to $6.50 an hour by 2013. Also, you now have to feed the meters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even on holidays. Oh, and another thing -- the city has lowered the 'boot' bar from three tickets to two, so once you get two parking tickets, your car gets "Da Boot," which leads to a cost of about a couple hundred bucks to get the boot removed.
Yep, the city is squeezing those who can least afford it. But the people are fighting it, in their own special way. Now, there are things about Chicagoans I hate, such as their penchant to 'save' their shoveled out parking spots on public streets with old furniture, thereby making most of the city's residential streets look like a huge trailer park through winter. But this I like. Rather than pay the mayor, i mean, the man, automobile owners are finding a way around this absurd parking meter robbery, either by parking in private garages or taking public transit/bikes, whatever to work.
Check out the picture here, that I took on a Sunday morning downtown, near the Merchandise Mart. Given, Sunday mornings are among the easiest times to find parking downtown, but this was astonishing. Normally there would be, about 8:30 a.m., a spot here and a spot there, but on this one block, nearly every parking spot was open! Take that, Mr. Mayor and you parking meter thugs!