Monthly Archives: March 2008

Opening Day Brings Parking Hell To Wrigleyville

Wrigley Field

Hey Hey!

It’s Opening Day at Wrigley Field! The official start of baseball on the north side of Chicago.

And, just by coincidence, the start of parking hell in Lakeview/Wrigleyville. Lakeview residents just LOVE this time of the year.

In honor of opening day, here’s a list of all the night games drivers whom frequent the Lakeview area, need to be aware of.

April 21, 29, 30

May 12, 13, 14, 27, 28, 29

June 10, 11, 24, 25

July 8, 9, 24

August 4, 19, 20, 28

September 2, 3, 16, 17

Night Game Parking Sign

That’s because non-residents are not allowed to park on residential streets within the zone and you could be ticketed and towed.

Let me clarify. You WILL be ticketed and towed. The city puts a virtual army of ticket writers and tow trucks on patrol throughout the entire zone. Stay the hell out on night games.

The zone’s boundaries are approximately Lake Shore Drive on the east, Ravenswood (just west of Ashland) on the west, Belmont on the south and Montrose on the north. The zone is not quite symmetrical, so make sure you check the signs on some of the boundary areas because I know there are exceptions to the zone I just outlined.

This zone is designated LV-2. In order to park on streets in this zones and marked by the proper signs, your vehicle must display a valid LV-2 Night Ball Game Permit.

Cubs Parking Sticker

On the day of a night game, enforcement begins at 5 PM and ends at 10 PM. I suggest not coming into the area on those days at all if you can all but help it.

If not, make sure you are parked at a metered spot, in a private parking lot or on private property or just get the hell out of there by 4:59 PM.

This is a brutally enforced parking zone. You are not just ticketed, but you most likely be towed. The ticket costs $50 and the tow will cost you $160 or more. Holy Cow!

If you are a resident in the area, you need to get your butt down to Ald. Tunney’s 44th Ward Office and get your LV-2 sticker. Make sure you bring proof of residence, a valid ID and proof of city vehicle sticker. The 44th Ward office is at 1057 W. Belmont Ave.

Here is some more info on the LV-2 Parking Permit.

But also pay attention to parking along Addison St. during night games. There’s already rush hour parking westbound on Addison from 4-6. But on the evening of Cub’s night games, you cannot park on that street from 4 PM until 11PM. Arrgghhh!!!

Night Game Restrictions on Addison

I’m really, really would not enjoy living in Wrigleyville.

Forcing My Opinion Down The Throats Of Strangers

I just can’t help it.

I must be unbalanced.

But whenever I read or hear the stories of people getting screwed by Chicago parking tickets, I can’t keep my loud, obnoxious mouth shut. What the hell is wrong with me?!?

I read a blog entry by a local Chicago dude who got two tickets in just a few days.

Cre8ve Chaos

He seems like a nice guy. The city is trying to jam him up. I had to speak up.

Here’s the comment I left for him.

“Hey man, you can fight and beat both of those tickets.

If your front plate came off in the accident, it’s not your fault and you can use that as a defense. It would help if you stopped by the police station and filed a lost license plate report. Take the copy with you to your hearing, tell the hearing officer about your accident and you should walk scott free.

The expired meter is an easy one too. Take a photo of the screwed up meter (and the meter number on the back of the meter), take the photo to the hearing and tell them what happened, but make sure you tell them you fed the meter despite the whacked readout. Call 312-744-PARK and report the screwed up meter (several times if you can)so the city has a record of it. Again, the photos, combined with your testimony about the meter and reporting the meter, should save you another $75.

Don’t pay them! You didn’t do anything wrong. C’mon!!!”

Ok. I’ll shut up now.

Old School

Expired Meter

I didn’t even know the city had these old school mechanical meters anymore.

I stumbled across this one along an area of West Devon. There were maybe 10 of them.

These are MUCH more beautiful than the newer digital meters. These old ones had charm and character.

I thought every meter had been converted to the new digital readout parking meters (Duncan Eagle 2100).

Perhaps I’m just nostalgic.

However, nostalgia will never ease the pain of getting ticketed for an expired meter, digital or otherwise.

I have an e-mail out to the Dept. of Revenue to see how many of these bad boys still exist and when they will all be replaced.

Orange Street Cleaning Sign–R.I.P. 2008?

Orange Sign

After many years of service, the iconoclastic orange cardboard signs, that have clung so tenuously to so many light poles, trees, street signs, bushes, etc., the harbinger of the street sweeper, is about to be retired.

Or perhaps, more accurately, sent into semi-retirement.

City of Chicago Streets & Sanitation Department announced in a press release today (March 28, 2008) , as of April 1, it will launch five different colored signs to denote on which day of the week, which side of the street will be cleaned. Mr. Orange sign still makes an appearance on Friday.

Here’s the color coding.

Monday = Blue

Tuesday = Red

Wednesday = Yellow

Thursday = Green

Friday = Orange

The Dept. of Streets & Sanitation says the color coded signs will make it easier for drivers to understand which day of the week they will have to get off their ass and move their car to the other side of the street.

Kudos to streets & san. Seriously. Good job.

This is such an elegant and easy fix to a problem that sometimes made it confusing when street cleaning was supposed to be.

Albeit, all you had to do was read the day of the week on the sign and act accordingly. But, when you are parking your car sometime after 2 AM and are, perhaps a little, mmmmm, tired, let’s say, and your vision a bit blurred, it might be hard to remember which day of the week it actually is when the sun comes up in a few short hours.

But realize, with this new innovation of color-coded signs, you will not be able to use the “I was confused by the signs,” or “all the signs looked the same,” defense that may have worked to get you out of paying that last street cleaning violation. You won’t have a good excuse next time.

But in general, a good move by the city. Impressive really.

How To Avoid Those Pesky Orange Tickets

We are just about to dive into the nuts and bolts of fighting parking tickets.

But before we start that, I want to do a short piece on AVOIDING parking tickets.

Obviously, the best strategy with parking tickets is to never get them. Of course, I’m not one to lecture, based on the numbers of tickets that I’ve received. But I want you to learn from the mistakes (the many, many, painful mistakes) that I have made.

1-Know Your Parking Environment

If, like many Chicagoans who don’t have a garage or can’t afford offstreet parking, and you park on the street, you need to be intimate with the parking environment around where you live and park.

Take a walk or drive up and down the street, around the block. Make note of the signs and parking restrictions. Make note of the fire hydrants, stop signs, cross walks, handicapped parking spaces, etc.

2-Check Out Other People’s Tickets

When you see tickets on other cars, it may make sense to quickly (before someone catches you messing with their ride and tries to kick your ass) check out their ticket to see what they were ticketed for. This could give you some insight into the minds of some of the cops patrolling the neighborhood to see what violations they’re trolling for.

We have an asshole cop in our neighborhood that comes through about 3 AM every two weeks like clockwork that is always looking for city vehicle sticker violations, tinted windows and other minor infractions–some of them warranted, but most of them not.
3-Know Your Street Cleaning Schedule

Street cleaning is the bane of the street parker. Many city apartment dwellers will park their cars on the street for the entire week while they commute daily to work. So paying attention to the bright orange Street Cleaning signs that materialize from nowhere to sabotage comfortable parking hibernation spot.

A lot of people don’t know this, but street cleanings are not random events. Street cleaning is scheduled well in advance of the street cleaning season, which runs once a month per side of street from late March to late November.

Check with your alderman’s office for the schedule of street cleaning for the season on ALL the streets where you park, not just the street where you live as you may park around the corner from your house or apartment.

Slap the schedule(s) on your fridge and input it into your Blackberry, Treo or other phone. Write it on your calendar. That way you can be prepared and know ahead of time when you have to move your car.

Here’s a weblink to the street cleaning schedules for all Chicago’s 50 wards.

Street Cleaning Schedules

4-Read The Signs!!!

Take the time to read the signs where you are parking. Sometimes, scratch that, many times you will find confusing and contradictory signs posted along the streets of Chicago. Take the time to read and understand the restrictions of where you are parking. If it’s a timed restriction, check your clock and make sure you are not parking there when the restriction is in effect, and make sure you return before the time restriction kicks in.

Good Advice

5-If You’re Not Sure, Don’t Park There

If the signs are so confusing that you get so dizzy you want to puke…don’t park there. Better safe than ticketed.

And really, I am less worried about the driver not understanding the confusing signage, I don’t trust the dumb ass ticket writer who may not be able to read the signs correctly, understand the law, the law or is motivated by a quota.

6-Embrace Your Inner Paranoia

Paranoia is your friend. Love your paranoia. It will serve you well. Overconfidence and cockiness are not your friends. Do not trust their sweet allure. Always behave as if a revenue officer is just around the corner, waiting and sexually aroused at the idea of giving your car a ticket. So don’t take your chances thinking you don’t have to feed the meter or you can double park to “just run in for a minute.” You are playing with fire!!!

7-Pay Attention To The Time

Check the time when you feed your meter. Then make note of when you need to return to feed the meter or leave. I have a timed memo function in my cell phone that I set to remind me when my meter expires. Watch the clock!

8-Stop, Think, Park

In other words, don’t be stupid. Sometimes, just taking an extra second to think, will prevent you from making a dumb mistake. Just use common sense whenever you can.

I hear alcohol may impair your judgement. So when bar hopping, even if you’re not technically blotto, and you feel that rush of false confidence screaming at you to park in front of that fire hydrant, so you can get to the next bar–ignore it and just pay the valet. It will be cheaper in the long run than getting the ticket.

Hope all this helps. I wish I had followed my own advice in the past.
If you have any parking ticket avoidance tips, we would welcome your input.

Tools Of The Trade

When you make that fateful decision to do battle against the forces of evil Chicago parking, you need to be prepared.

Here is a list of the tools and weapons you must be armed with to triumph.

Digital Camera

Absolutely essential to a good fight. Because any strong defense in contesting a parking ticket will be good evidence. Normally, the best and easiest evidence for the layperson to collect is photographic evidence. Photographing signs, malfunctioning parking meters, street addresses, et. Of course, a traditional film camera can do the job too, but ultimately, it is more expensive and gives you less flexibility in your photo taking.

I advise keeping this in the car at all times so you can document the parking environment (parking meters, signs, etc.) immediately, at the instance you receive a ticket.

This is much more convenient and easier than going home or borrowing a camera and then going back to the scene of the parking ticket after the fact.

Roll of Quarters

When driving and parking along the streets and avenues that criss-cross our Chicago, you should never leave home without at least a few quarters. I suggest investing in a roll of quarters and keep it handy in the glove box or another easily accessible place in the car. Those one-eyed monsters called parking meters are insatiable in their thirst for numismatic nourishment.

Computer and Printer

Another indispensable weapon in your crusade. You’ll need a word processing program of some sort to prepare your arguments and testimony, write your contest letters, make Freedom of Information Act requests, etc. Of course, an internet hookup allows you to read this website as well as interact with the city’s website to monitor your parking ticket activity. You will also need your computer to help print out any digital photographs you may need to present as evidence.

Telephone

Duh. A phone allows you to interact the city and do the research you may need to collect evidence and documentation and locate information that may not be readily available from your parking ticket and/or any city websites.

Intelligence, Wit and a Sense of Humor

Basically your have to use your brain. You’ll need to think logically, and creatively. You will have to try to put together coherent and thoughtful arguments that defeat the case (the facts alleged in the parking ticket) the city makes.

But you also need a good sense of humor as, without it, you will lose your mind after dealing with the parking ticket bureaucracy that has made the City of Chicago famous.

Now you are ready to go forth into battle! Huzzah!

The Trib Gets Some Parking Ticket Justice

Out of Order meter

The Chicago Tribune did this nice story about a dude from the far, far suburbs, who was downtown for the day, parked at a meter that was broken and got two parking tickets anyway.

Chicago Tribune Story

Jon Yates handles the What’s Your Problem column for the Tribune, which is basically a consumer advocate column in the Trib.

The protagonist of our story turns out to be a pretty smart guy. He photographs the parking meter to document that the meter is not working and has a readout of “OUT OF ORDER” and “FAIL.”

He opts to fight both tickts by mail, sends copies of photos with both.

The two tickets are reviewed by two separate hearing officers. One throws out the first ticket, but he loses on the second.

What the hell?

Yates goes to work on behalf of the driver and speaks to the higher ups at the Dept. of Administrative Hearings and the Dept. of Revenue. Magically, this terrible injustice is rectified and all is right with the world.

And really, this is good news. However, this driver would most likely never got anywhere with the city if it not were for Jon Yates and the Tribune. My informed guess would be that any of us peons would have tried this tact, we would never have made it passed the receptionist and would have received the bureaucratic equivalent “touch shit,” through said receptionist’s clenched teeth and forced sarcastic smile.

Please never be discouraged to try this strategy when there is such a blatant inconsistency in a ruling. I had some luck in one case going above the heads of the administrative hearing officer. But the chances are slim as the bureaucracy is programmed to shut the door in your face.

The other notable part of the story is the fact that two tickets, same exact evidence, testimony and defense, but one wins and the other loses. It demonstrates the subjectivity of the hearing process and to me, the lack of clear standards when reviewing cases.

The upside to subjectivity is that you can often use this large gray area to work things in your favor.

Parking Ticket Manifesto-Part 1: Fight EVERY Ticket

Again, I warn you, something is wrong with me.

That’s because I believe EVERY parking ticket should be contested.

So, here’s a rant that may (or may not) give you some insight into my madness.

FIGHT EVERY TICKET!!!

1- You May Just Win

Even if you just contest your parking tickets by mail, your chances are at least 50/50 you will prevail. According to the Chicago Dept. of Revenue, just above 50% of all tickets contested by mail are adjudicated in favor of the driver. By including evidence like photos, documentation, and having a well formed written argument, your chances are even greater.

If you contest in person, your chances get even higher as approximately 70% of all tickets contested in person are overturned.

2-Gives You More Time To Pay

Requesting a hearing will extend your deadline to pay the ticket. If you DON’T ask for an in-person hearing or contest by mail, you have approximately 21 days to pay your violation before it doubles. That’s the initial 7 days from the original ticket and 14 days after the city issues a Notice of Violation.

Contesting by mail takes time and will buy you at least 30 days and then another 21 days even if you lose, before you have to pay.

When you request an in-person hearing, it takes 14-30 days just to schedule the hearing. Then they usually schedule the hearing about 30-60 days from when you get the hearing notice. If you lose, or don’t go to the hearing, you have at least 28 days to pay the ticket before it doubles.

In the best case scenario, you can buy almost four months of time before you have to pay up.

3-Stick It To The Man

As a Chicago driver, aren’t you sick and tired of getting picked on by the city of Chicago? You, the driver, face a disproportionate amount of extra taxation by the state, county and especially the city. Gas taxes, city vehicle stickers, parking meter, parking tickets, zoned parking, etc.

It’s time for some payback. It’s time to start fighting ALL your tickets.

If more people contested their tickets, city parking ticket revenue would slow down. In addition, more labor and resources would go into adjudicating all the contested tickets, thus making the process more costly and less profitable for the city. If more people beat their tickets, again, there is more lost revenue for the city. Use the system AGAINST the city. It’s a legal way of making your voice heard.

So I say screw ‘em!

4-It Can Be Fun

You have to trust me that there is a tremendous amount of enjoyment and satisfaction out of beating a parking ticket. Yeah, I know, it’s kind of pathetic that something like this gives me such satisfaction and joy. I freely and ashamedly admit that’s how far my life has slid–that I get my “jollies” out of beating parking tickets.

But I see it as  a bit of payback for all the times that I, and countless others, have been screwed for an erroneous ticket, or got booted, or had to shell out a wad of cash to the city. Pathetic, I know,  but really a lot of fun when you succeed.

5-Peer Pressure

Look, everyone’s doing it. All the cool kids are contesting their tickets. Are you afraid?!? Cluck-cluck-cluck!!! Are ya’ chicken?!? Just do it!

Ta-Da!!! The Debut Of The Expired Meter T-shirt

The Expired Meter T-shirt

The Expired Meter is proud to announce it’s first official T-shirt.

100% cotton. White. With a be-yootiful reproduction of the infamous bright orange Chicago parking ticket.

T-shirts were printed by Propaganda (www.propagandatshirts.com).

Support The Expired Meter’s efforts to educate the Chicago driving public by purchasing one of these T-shirts are $10 and shipping is FREE.

That’s a much better deal than WBEZ or WTTW. They make you spend at least $100 bucks for a lousy T-shirt. C’mon!

If you are too cheap to buy one, get one for FREE by either sending us a parking ticket horror story or submitting a question to Ask The Parking Geek and getting your contribution published.

ALSO, if you work as a “parking enforcement officer” for the Chicago Dept. of Revenue, I will give you a FREE T-shirt if you let me photograph you issuing a parking ticket while wearing the T-shirt. Seriously. I will.

Just send an e-mail to: tshirt@theexpiredmeter.com

All Chicago’s Red Light Camera Intersections

Photo Enforced Sign

Below is a link listing ALL 69 of Chicago’s red light camera intersections as of today’s date.

This list will be going up an additional 60 cameras this year, and another 40 per year through 2012 when there will be a total of 289 red light intersections in Chicago.

Please keep all wailing and gnashing of teeth as quiet as possible–my 1 year old is trying to sleep.

All 69 Red Light Intersection Cameras In Chicago

Consider yourself warned.

Keep posted here for updates.