Monthly Archives: January 2009

Lincolnshire Decides No To Red Light Cameras

In a world with an overabundance of bad news, here’s a little good news for drivers in the Chicago area and in particular, the Village of Lincolnshire.

According to Pioneer Press, this Chicago suburb has decided not to go forward with red light cameras because, based on the number of accidents at certain intersections, it was not worth it.

Lincolnshire drops idea of red light cameras

By Matt Keifer

Lincolnshire has dropped plans to install red light cameras around the village after police determined they would not prevent as many crashes as expected.

“We’re basically just going to postpone this project for the time-being,” Police Chief Randy Melvin said. “We just did not have the number of violations we thought we did and, taking a look at the crash data, did not have the crash figures necessary to justify putting up the cameras.”

Police had previously scouted out several intersections to post the cameras, and had even started negotiating with a vendor to install them.

The cameras are designed to take pictures of cars that disobey traffic signals, including making illegal turns. Police agencies then use license plate information to send the registered car owner a $100 ticket in the mail. Northfield and Chicago are among municipalities that have installed camera systems.

Police had hoped bringing cameras to Lincolnshire would cut down the number of dangerous crashes, and that ticket revenue would pay the cost of installing and administering the system.

Not so, according to Melvin. After doing closer analyses of the village’s most crash-prone intersections, police found that “only a small number were attributable to red light violations,” Melvin reported.

At Milwaukee Avenue and Half Day Road, for example, there were 22 crashes reported in 2006, 21 crashes in 2007 and 18 crashes last year. “The majority were rear-ended crashes or drivers turning into an oncoming car,” Melvin wrote in a memo to village trustees this week.

State and county transportation agencies will only approve cameras at intersections where crash data warrants them, and Melvin does not believe Lincolnshire’s intersection would meet their requirements.

In addition, Melvin stated that in most cases where traffic cameras are installed, the number of violations drop off dramatically, making it only a “borderline” case to justify having the cameras.

Melvin added that the cameras can be costly — monthly fees had been estimated at $4,500 — and require extra staffing resources, so without guaranteed revenue the village could actual end up losing money on the proposition.

Avoiding Red Light Camera Tickets: License Plate Covers

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in an ongoing series on avoiding red light tickets here in Chicago–soon to be the red light camera capital of the world.

In the war against red light cameras, another strategy some people have turned to is specialty license plate covers.

In general, these are clear plastic license plate covers that employ either light diffusional technology or a view blocking strategy that prevents the license plate to be viewed from an angle and/or from above. This means that the cameras that are mounted above and from the side, cannot photograph the entire license plate of the violating vehicle. If the cameras can’t see the entire license plate, the city can’t issue the ticket.

Of course, the license plate can still be viewed directly from behind, so theoretically, the cover violates no Chicago or Illinois law as the plates are only obscured at angles.

There are several products on the market that fit this bill so let’s get started.

Of all the products on the market, The Loover is the goofiest looking and most obvious of these anti-red light camera products.

In essence, it’s a plastic plate cover that is simply a series of horizontal slats that are the length of the plate and perhaps a half inch deep and a fraction of an inch thick.

invisaloover300x225.gif

So, from behind, the license plate number is clearly visible. However, the resulting effect from above, and/or an angle, is that the license plate is not viewable.

According to the Loover website, the installation can be a bit tricky depending on your vehicle and you have to make sure the Loover is installed properly in order for it to work correctly.

As you can see from the photos, the Loover looks a little unwieldy and seems like an invitation to the cops to pull you over.

I tried to get some input from the people behind the Loover. I sent notes to every e-mail address they had on the website. All but one bounced back. And I never heard back from the one e-mail address that did not bounce.

In addition, the Loover has some sketchy legal disclaimers that would make me a bit nervous to install this device.

The Loover is $42.95 ea. plus $9.95 shipping and handling.

http://www.loover.com/

OnTrack Products

OnTrack has been around for 12 years making specialty automotive products that protect your vehicle from unwanted surveilance. The company began making products that protect against radar and laser speed guns. More recently, with the advent of speed cameras and red light cameras, OnTrack has been producing a line of products to help defeat these technologies.

From my research, OnTrack seems to have the widest selection of products, designed to defeat every type of camera configuration possible. After speaking with George XXXXXX, president of OnTrack, I was very impressed with the thought and engineering that goes into each of their products.

While I am, by my nature, skeptical about products that claim to protect you from red light camera detection, I definitely buy into the claims and technology behind most of these license cover products.

All of OnTrack’s products are made from thin clear plastic, will not yellow and are guaranteed shatterproof.

Specific to red light cameras, OnTrack offers four license plate cover options that all have their strengths and

Overhead Protector

This product uses a micro-prismatic lens, that allows the plate to be seen from behind, but at certain angles, distorts and blocks the license plate from being photographed by cameras mounted high on “bridges, overpasses and roadside poles”. Since Chicago’s red light cameras are mounted on poles, this product should work for you.

Toll-Free Protector

This is OnTrack’s most technically designed frame available. This cover actually has two micro-prismatic lens that protect your plate from being photographed from above, from the sides and from narrow angles used by toll cameras. So, not only does this cover protect you from red light cameras but also from I-Pass cameras on the tollway.

It’s very effective but it’s OnTrack’s most expensive product at $69.95.

Super Protector

The Super Protector is OnTrack’s most popular product with over one million units sold in the U.S. and Canada.

It uses the micro-prismatic technology to protect you from red light cameras mounted above and from the sides. This is perhaps the best solution against red light cameras for Chicago drivers.

It sells for $39.95 per unit.

weaknesses.

Photo Blur

The Photo Blur looks like the popular, clear acrylic bubble covers, but incorporates a thin light diffusional lens that gives your plate multi-angle protection from red light cameras. It’s the least technical of all OnTrack’s offerings and sounds like it would work.

It sells for $24.95 per cover.

Overhead Protector

http://www.ontrackcorp.com/overhead-protector.cfm?id=04

TollFree Protector

http://www.ontrackcorp.com/toll-free-protector.cfm?id=02

Super Protector from OnTrack

http://www.ontrackcorp.com/super-protector.cfm?id=05

Phantom Plate

OnTrack’s biggest competitor is Phantom Plate.

This company also makes a broad range of anti-camera products including sprays, GPS and plate covers. Phantom Plate offers two choices.

The Reflector

This product is much like the Photoblocker or Photostopper sprays as the clear plastic plate incorporates “light reflecting crystals” that, when exposed to the camera’s strong flash, it reflects the light back to the camera, overexposing the photo and obscuring your plate.

Like it’s license spray brethren, I’m mildly skeptical this strategy works with Chicago’s Redflex cameras.

The Reflector costs $19.99.

http://www.phantomplate.com/reflector.html

Photoshield cover uses a light diffusional lens to obscure the red light cameras from viewing the entire plate. This is Phantom Plate’s top of the line license cover product.
Photoshield goes for $25 each.

http://www.phantomplate.com/photoshield.html


Booster Newspaper Commentary On Global Parking Management Issues In 32nd Ward

Last week, the Parking Ticket Geek contributed some thoughts regarding problems that Global Parking Management has been facing in the 32nd ward, for a commentary in The Booster newspaper.

Here is the full text of my inane ravings.

Can’t we all just get along?

By The Parking Ticket Geek

There are very few businesses in Chicago that elicit the unbridled fury of Chicago drivers more than Global Parking Management.

Countless unwary – or some say stupid – drivers have had their vehicles caught in the jaws of one of Global Parking’s Denver boots. A boot that lay in anxious wait for them to step onto the premises of another business, unrelated to the lot in which they parked.

The booted drivers seethe, shriek, shout, scream, wail and even cry in shaking fits of rage as they quickly come to the frigid realization that they have to cough up $115 for the privilege of escaping onto the street with their just freed vehicle.

In some ways, it’s difficult to be sympathetic with most of the drivers caught by Global Parking’s insidious money making machine. Signs – large ones, in fact-are posted at all of the 40-plus lots Global Parking manages.

The signs clearly state that if you opt to park on the premises you must follow the rules. You must patronize only the business or businesses indicated on the sign. If you do walk into another store on the way to or coming from the parking lot – CLANK! – the boot goes on.

The drivers that get caught yell, whine and complain. They call 311, the police, the Better Business Bureau, and their alderman. Ultimately, however, they pay up.

You see, businesses in Chicago’s parking-starved neighborhoods fight a daily battle to protect their parking lot from inconsiderate trespassing jerks that spend their money elsewhere. They do this so that actual customers can patronize their businesses and have somewhere to leave their vehicles when they do.

Global Parking Management’s idea is an alternative, less expensive, more convenient solution to trespassing vehicles than towing.

Personally, I don’t like the strong arm tactics Global Parking employs in their business. It strikes me as mean, thuggish and an overly aggressive way to police one’s parking lot.

At the same time, Global Parking and their clients have the right to control parking lot as they see fit. If that includes booting, so be it.

I also don’t really have a problem when jerks who feel they can park wherever they please and not patronize the owner of the lot get booted. My sympathy is tiny. Perhaps it will teach the booted driver some parking manners.

But, can’t we find a middle ground? Can’t Global Parking and their customers soften their policies and stay, peacefully, in the 32nd ward?

I’m not sure how anyone benefits when a customer parks in a Global lot, patronizes the business that owns the lot, but then picks up their dry cleaning or a cup of coffee across the street before returning to a booted car.

The customer is enraged and the business has likely lost a future customer. The only one that benefits is Global Parking.

Perhaps if the policies allowed for a sincere patron to bring a validated receipt back to the lot, or give a grace period of 15 to 30 minutes to shop elsewhere after spending their money inside the business, there would be a lot less red-faced, vein-popping emotion.

Under this proposed scenario, customers are happy, businesses keep their customers and peace and harmony is restored to the parking universe.

Global Parking would probably see a bit of decline in revenue from such a proposition. But, compared to the alternative of being booted from the 32nd ward altogether, Global would do much better with a more flexible approach.

In the meantime, if you want to make sure you don’t end up contributing to Global Parking’s coffers, I advise avoiding Global Parking Management parking lots completely. The convenience of these parking spots is not worth the potential headache. And if you’re so inspired, stop patronizing businesses that use Global Parking’s services. But let them know that you are doing it and why, otherwise they may just chalk it up to a poor economy.

Either way, in the long run, your dollars will speak louder than your moral support – or your screams of fury.

Area Attorney Triumphs Again, Beats Another Ticket

I really like this guy.

Mr. James Dimeas is an area defense attorney for the firm, The Legal Defenders, who seems to really enjoy fighting the system. Perhaps I’m overstating or being overly dramatic here. But he certainly knows his way around an administrative hearing.

Several months ago, we reported on how Mr. Dimeas, representing a client for a Rolling Meadows red light camera ticket, stuck it to the city, by pointing out a major flaw in their municipal code, and had the ticket thrown out.

He has also been kind enough to give The Expired Meter some of his legal insight in the past, which we of course, very much appreciate.

This time he fights a Chicago parking ticket for having a tinted cover over his license plate. He cites the proper municipal code and triumphs once again.

If you ever face a ticket for the same violation, Mr. Dimeas’ strategy and defense is spot on. Read and learn.

Won Parking Ticket Hearing in Chicago

On October 29, 2008 I received a parking ticket in downtown Chicago for Noncompliant Plates. The parking ticket indicated that I had violated 9-76-160(d) of the Chicago Municipal Code because I had improper plastic covers on my plates. I requested a hearing on the ticket, and the hearing was held today on Addison Street. I pulled the actual city ordinance which states that “no registration plate shall be covered by any tinted or colored screen.” I have clear plastic covers on my plates. I also did some research into state law and discovered that effective June 1, 2008, under state law you cannot have any clear covers on your plates. I assume that these prohibitions about covers on plates have to do with the ability of red light and traffic cameras to take pictures of license plates. But since the ticket was written as a violation of the Chicago Municipal Code, I raised this defense in my hearing. I even brought the clear plastic plate cover with me to the hearing. I had taken photographs of my vehicle with my cell phone camera as soon as I received the ticket and showed those photographs to the hearing officer to prove that the same clear plastic cover I had brought to the hearing was on the plates when the ticket was issued. The photographs made the plastic covers appear slightly tinted but pointed out that I had parked the vehicle directly below the overhead CTA tracks.

I noticed that many citizens before me were arguing excuses rather than raising legal defenses to their ticket. One elderly man argued that he should not have been given a ticket for stopping his car in a zone clearly marked as a “no stopping or standing zone” because he had a stroke and was being dropped off to the doctor’s office. Another man was able to prove that he had his registration for his vehicle but had forgotten to place it on his windshield. All of these arguments failed because while they are valid excuses, they are not legal defenses. First, start by looking at the law and see if you can defend your ticket by arguing that you did not violate the terms of the law.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense lawyers at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at www.thelegaldefenders.com or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Meathead City: Winter Parking “Place-savers” and Other Primitive Behavior

GEEK EDITOR’S NOTE: Our friend David Hoyt, wrote an excellent excoriation of the practice of lawn furniture parking space reservation.  Of course, The Expired Meter always seeks intelligent, well reasoned commentary on all issues parking and just HAD to post it.

Previously, we posted Dr. Hoyt’s thoughts on Chicago’s parking meter lease deal.

Hoyt has a Ph.D in Modern History, has taught at Northwestern and the U of Chicago and has been a research analyst in the non-profit sector on environmental and transportation issues.

Hoyt contributes to both Hyde Park Progress and Huffington Post Chicago.

Meathead City: Winter Parking “Place-savers” and Other Primitive Behavior

Giddyup!
Hyde Park Cowboy Attempts To Own the Street
5300 Block South Kimbark

People who fantasize about Chicago as a Presidential City worthy of global spotlight might interpret the tons of furniture moved to city curbs after every snowfall as a sign of collective generosity, of gifts made by regular, everyday people for the benefit of the less fortunate, the furniture-deprived, or to anyone with a pickup who can collect all the junk left on the asphalt altar as a sacrifice to the snow god.

If you need cheap lawn furniture for next summer, or maybe a few sawhorses for your basement shop, or maybe some milk crates for your kid’s college dorm, or a usable ironing board, or a step ladder for the attic, or you just want to make a donation to the Salvation Army or to the guys that drive the scrap metal trucks down the alleys of Chicago, you can always find what you need by cruising many of Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Free Furniture in Dick Mell’s 33rd Ward!
Take My Furniture! It’s Free!

[Source: Chicago Tribune http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/.a/6a00d83451b4ba69e2010536e2cf33970b-pi]

After hanging out in Chicago for awhile, however, visitors might be disappointed to learn that all that furniture on the street is not meant for the needy.

Instead, using junk to claim a shoveled parking spot fits right into an ethically dubious tradition of getting what you can for yourself from the public domain, with a Sopranos-style edge,

Not that different from passing a kitty around the office at Christmas to make sure the boss can buy something nice for his wife, bribing the Alderman, or making sure your unqualified kid gets a padded job with the City.

The Parking Ticket Geek says it better than I can:

Street parking is first come, first serve. No matter the season, no matter the conditions, no matter if you happen to have your junk out on the street. No exceptions.
It’s like standing in line, or waiting your turn. It’s something you should have learned in kindergarten. It’s a societal tradition that is so deep, so ingrained, it trumps this so-called Chicago tradition of using trash to save your parking spot.

I’m happy to say that Hyde Park, the Presidential Neighborhood in the Presidential City, is mostly free of this cranky vigilante behavior. In contrast, apparently, to Richard Mell’s 33rd Ward, the neighborhood that gave us conjugal @#$%& pottymouths Rod and Patti Blagojevich.

[See transcript of Federal wiretap for deleted obsenity].

Even so, I’ve found a few cases of people trying to import the primitive “dibs” custom to Hyde Park. Just two instances so far, but they are so conspicuous in their meat-headedness that they are worth highlighting.

Take the note found on this lawnchair left at the curb near the southeast corner of Kimbark and 54th, in front of a student rental building:

“Move This Chair at Your Own Risk :)

Dubious Claims and Vague Threats on Kimbark

Because the anonymous owner of the above lawn chair is in violation of City Code 10-08-480 (hat tip again to Parking Ticket Geek at the Expired Meter), he or she will have to do better than make wooly and unattributed references to John Locke’s Two Treatises on Government and the philosopher’s idea of usufruct to dissuade me from appropriating his or her lawnchair for donation to the back alley scap recyclers.

Locke’s theory worked nicely to disposses Native Americans of any rights to North American land, but unfortunately it does not supercede Chicago City Code.

Anyone want to get that chair before I do?

Finally, here’s a case of someone with the trappings of a conscience, as befits the landed gentry of Hyde Park: the ladder leaning against the inside of this homeowner’s fence is occasionally left standing on the street, but then stored out of reach when the parking situation eases up.

Much more discreet. After all, this stately home is just a few blocks from President Obama’s Kenwood mansion.

One wouldn’t want to be too much of a meathead in a place where the world might be watching, would one?

[This post also appears on Huffington Post Chicago]

Invest In Your Very Own Parking Space

Parking tickets getting you down? Are you worried about the boot? Are you sick of parking your car on Chicago’s streets?

With the advent of new parking meter rates, tougher enforcement and a two ticket boot, maybe it’s time to look into buying your own parking spot.

At least that what Paula Cherrist, a writer who covers Chicago real estate topics believes.

In fact, she looks at it as an investment as much as preventative measure.

So, if you have an extra $20,000-$60,000 burning a hole in your wallet, perhaps this is the investment for you.

Parking Spaces As Real Estate Investments

One of the more unusual but sometimes profitable real estate investments is buying parking spaces. In every large city, including Chicago, there is always a need for parking and demand outpaces supply. Even with public transportation readily available in large cities, the high gas prices and the growing trend of green living and conservation, Americans still love their automobiles. Parking spaces are always going to be needed, and there are investors who are banking on it.

In Chicago, Mayor Daley is proposing lowering the number of unpaid parking tickets from three to two before you get booted. Right now it costs $60 to get a booted car back, along with paying all tickets owed. A booted car will be towed after 24 hours, so you could have an additional towing fee of about $150 plus storage costs. It could add up to several hundred dollars in a few days. Records show that there were almost 59,000 autos booted in Chicago last year (2007), so there obviously is a need for parking that isn’t being met.

So how much does a deeded parking space cost? It depends on where you are located. In New York, it’s possible to pay more than $175,000 for a prime parking spot. In Chicago, deeded parking spaces run anywhere from $20,000 to $65,000 or more in some of the trendy new construction high-rises or downtown locations. High profile developments like the Chicago Spire listed here http://www.bestchicagocondos.com/pre-construction-condos/chicago-spire.html usually allow for parking for all of its future residents for a fee in addition to the condo price. Some buyers will opt for a second space if one is available and others may decide not to purchase one at all. In many smaller Chicago real estate developments, no parking is offered with the condos.

According to Parkingsearch, the value of parking spaces has increased by quite a bit over the past few years. Their research finds that in Chicago the average parking space sold for $28,000. By 2006 that increased to $30,000 and last year in 2007 it was about $33,000. With a fixed rate loan of 6 percent there is definitely a profit to be made. It may be a bit if a challenge to find a bank to loan you the money, but it is certainly doable. You monthly payment should be in the range of $200 and the going rate for renting a parking space in prime spots can be as much as $300 to $500.

You need to keep in mind that you’ll have a few fees associated with owning a parking space. It isn’t all profit. While you won’t have much upkeep on the spot, you will probably have to pay a maintenance fee to the building or condo association. A deed must be obtained, liability insurance is a good idea and yearly taxes must be paid.

When looking for a good parking space investment, factors such as the garage being heated, secure entrances and what level or floor the spot is located on if it is a multi-level garage all come into play. Also whether or not there is an elevator can increase the value. You should also do your research and see how well the units in the building have sold. Buying a parking space in a building that is only half sold or rented won’t be a good investment.

Some real estate agents may be able to help you find available parking spaces and many developers are turning to auction houses to liquidate condo inventory, including parking spaces at a deep discount. Around 27 spaces at Millennium Center were auctioned off this past spring, and 10 of those were sold absolute. The suggested opening bid for those spaces was $10,000 to $12,000 and they had been priced at $49,000 to $65,000 each.

Parking spaces as investments may have never occurred to you, but the next time you get a parking ticket or find your car booted, it may sound like a fantastic idea.

Wheeling Prepares New Red Light Camera

Suburban Wheeling joins the steadily growing list of municipalities embracing the sickly sweet promise of easy revenue via red light cameras.

ABC 7 reports on the new red light cameras being installed at Dundee & Milwaukee Ave.

Red Light Camera Captures the ‘Burbs

Drivers beware- suburban authorities are watching you.

When a motorist illegally passes through the intersection with a camera, sensors will trigger the camera to capture a photo. If the violation appears to be just, the motorist will receive the notice and a ticket in the mail. Some violations cost as much as $100. Most of that money goes to the municipality. Local officials said it will help make their roads safer.

In Wheeling, crews drilled through two feet of frozen surface to run a conduit to the future site of the city’s first red light camera, located at Dundee and Milwaukee. According to Wheeling’s deputy police chief, the intersection has been the scene of many accidents.

“We just don’t have the manpower or the ability to have somebody here at all times, especially at rush-hour,” said Deputy Chief Bill Benson, Wheeling Police Department

RedSpeed Illinois will monitor Wheeling’s camera, which is one of more than 100 of the company’s cameras in 50 municipalities across Cook and DuPage counties.

“There is an accident reduction up to 43- percent where these cameras are being installed,” said Sean Tomasz, RedSpeed Illinois.

Schaumburg had cameras installed at Meacham and Woodfield in November. The village manager said so far they’ve collected $259,000 from tickets at this intersection and are owed an estimated $400,000 more from red light violators.

“These programs are funded by the violators. All of the revenue mentioned is coming from violators,” said Tomasz.

“There’s no doubt it’s going to bring revenue, but the purpose of it is to reduce crashes and & change the habits of the motoring public,” said Deputy Benson.

Schaumburg Village Trustee George Dunham chairs the public safety committee. He said their motivation was safety because too many motorists were making decisions that endangered lives.

Wheeling’s deputy chief hopes that eventually motorists will learn to take more care and not trigger red light tickets. He says success will mean less revenue, but safer roads.

Street Beat: Ticketmaster’s Triumphant Return!

autocite.jpg

GEEK EDITOR’S NOTE: Our friend Ticketmaster is a Parking Enforcement Aide (PEA) for the city of Chicago Dept. of Revenue.

Recently, because the Geek has been so busy (with my real life alter ego) and distracted with all the news surrounding the parking meter lease deal, Ticketmaster’s usually regular column has been getting preempted.

My sincere apologies to readers and especially to Ticketmaster, who has been a great contributor to our goofy website.

Ticketmaster has been pounding the pavement of the streets of Chicago, and issuing those darn bright orange violations for many years. Ticketmaster very graciously, answers questions from readers and share their knowledge and experience within the parking enforcement system to give our readers insight and information to hopefully avoid tickets altogether.

Dear Ticketmaster,

Are parking ticket books carbon copy, with more than one copy one for the car and one for office records

Please let me know as soon as you can.

Thank you and stay safe out there.

Max

Hello Max,

The actual ticket book contains the copies per ticket. The Top Sheet “hard sheet” goes to the Department of Revenue, The 2nd sheet “Onion Skin” the PEA holds onto, and the third sheet “hard copy” the citizen gets.

Kind Regards

Ticketmaster

P.S. Why do you need to know right away?

Dear Mr. Ticketmaster,

What happens when a street sign gets covered up with snow like the photo I’m sending? I think it’s for residential parking.

But what happens if someone parks on the street and can’t read the sign or doesn’t see the sign because of all the snow? Do the PEA people ticket or not ticket? Is there any discretion there? What do you think?

Jeff

Hello Jeff,

We see a lot of signs like that this time of year, and that is when discretion will definitely play a role. There are some aggressive PEA’s who will ticket the vehicles anyways and there are some who won’t. If it was me, that would depend on the area I am in and if there are other signs that are clearly visible on the block.

Kind Regards

Ticketmaster

Dear Ticketmaster,

I am a pizza delivery driver on the north side and wanted to know if you had any advice for me to avoid tickets.

The problem is, we often have to park illegally for a few moments just to run a pizza into a house or apartment. Sometimes we have to double-park with our flasher on, or pull into a hydrant space or park close to a stop sign. I have a hand written sign on pizza cardboard in my back window.

I haven’t received a ticket yet. Do cops or the parking ticket aides know to cut guys like me a break? Is there any pizza delivery laws? I’m just trying to do my job and make a few bucks on tips.

Any help or advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Damien

Damien,

I must be the bearer of bad news. There are no  special laws on the books for pizza delivery drivers, or any other delivery vehicle as well. FIRST OF ALL: REPEAT AFTER ME. “I WILL NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE PARK ON A FIRE HYDRANT!!!”. There are no breaks on that violation (flashers or otherwise).

However, you can lower your risk for being ticketed: The sign in your window does help, especially with the flashers. If by some small chance you do see somebody on the block enforcing, let them know that you are making a delivery. Never assume that we see you unloading or delivering a pizza. Be polite, acknowledge that you see us and ask if it is OK to park there for a couple of minutes and 99.9% of the time, you will be extended a courtesy.

There is one BIG caveat to that. We always do not know whether or not someone else is patrolling the area and if they do come up on the scene, they may not know that you were given a break and may issue you a ticket. So when you say a couple of minutes, better keep track of that time because we do move fast.

As far as our training goes, if the vehicle is parked illegally, we can ticket it and sleep with a clear conscience. Now this is where the 2nd part comes in, our discretion and if there is any Special Attentions.

NOTE: A Special Attention is a request that comes from an alderman’s office. Usually is a result of too many complaints on a particular block. That area is made a priority and we have to report back our results

If a Special Attention was put on an area, most likely, no breaks would be given. Now with our discretion, every PEA is different. Some are easy going, and there are others that will issue tickets like they are giving away candy canes. Out in the neighborhoods, PEAs are usually easy going and won’t bother a legitimate delivery driver (we know that they are usually gone in 5 minutes or less).

Downtown, that’s another story. Parking spaces are at a premium and we need to share, there is no such thing as a couple of minutes delivery, but it is also harder to get a ticket downtown (so many people downtown are writing tickets) so there is almost no flexibility given. I know it’s a bummer, but what can we do?

STORY FROM THE FRONT LINE:

Since we are talking about delivery vehicles, thought you would love this. It was just after 911 and the city’s tow division was on a warpath for towing vehicles. This FedEx truck was double parked on a street making a quick delivery, the PEA was issuing a ticket for the double park (the street was narrow and the double park was messing up traffic) but before the ticket was even finished printing, a city tow truck had hooked up the vehicle, took the ticket from the PEA and rode off into the sunset. From what I understand, that PEA hauled their backside out of the area before the FedEx driver came back out. Guess somebody was not going to get their package delivered next day.

This also didn’t just happen to FedEx. In fact, one company’s vehicles were being towed so often, that they hired “security guards” to sit in the vehicle so it would not be towed. They would gladly accept the $50.00 ticket as long as they weren’t going to be towed.

Kind Regards

Ticketmaster

As usual, more great info from Ticketmaster.

If you have a question for Ticketmaster, please send your questions to either:

askthepea@theexpiredmeter.com or ticketmaster@theexpiredmeter.com

Ticket Tidbits: A Melange Of Chicago Parking News

ITEM: I’ve been seeing a lot more Pay & Display units replacing single head parking meters around town. I’ve seen a few along 53rd St. in Hyde Park and along Clark St. in Lakeview.

ITEM: According to a observant reader, a bunch of new meters are being installed down at Canal & Fulton, with possibly more going in around the corner and down the block.

ITEM: Sun-Times transportation reporter Mary Wisniewski writes about the parking meter lease deal closing and meter rates going up. I guess I can overlook fact that this news is nearly two weeks old now,  but it’s hard to overlook the blatant factual errors contained within the story. C’mon now!

ITEM: I’ve never seen more broken meters in my entire time in Chicago. It’s hard to believe how many are out of order. My guess would be that the city, knowing the new lessee would be responsible for fixing the meters as soon as the deal closed, felt it would financially prudent to let them deal with the problem.

ITEM: I spoke with a very nice SERCO employee on perhaps one of his last rounds of collecting quarters from parking meters for the city. He told me that he wasn’t sure he would have his job after the meter lease deal is finalized as collections will be handled by the new lessee. To add salt to wound, he considered applying for doing the same job with the new company, but it would pay a lot less for the same amount of work.

He went on to say that everyone was waiting until Feb. 13th to get the final word on what was going on with he and his colleagues positions.

ITEM: Our pal Ticketmaster passed on some interesting info to us about the parking meter lease deal. He says, according to a letter from head of the Dept. of Revenue, the new lessees LAZ Parking aka Chicago Parking Meter, LLC, has been impressed with the current level of parking enforcement from the DOR and is looking forward to working with them.

But the bigger news is that employees for Chicago Parking Meter, LLC can begin enforcement on February 13. Friday, the 13th…hmmmm.

ITEM: Ticketmaster also reports that the Dept. of Revenue has thrown down the gauntlet to under performing PEAs. “I just wanted to let all you and all your readers know that management has issued an edict that 24 tickets or less (per shift) is unacceptable and that we can be disciplined for it,says Ticketmaster via e-mail. “Guess the few good natured PEAs that still exist may have to get with the program and stop giving breaks…I know I won’t have a problem giving a break here or there. Just please be careful, and remember……It’s not personal.”

ITEM: Anyone seeing a pattern here? If I were a betting man, I would say that come hell or high water, the parking meter lease deal closes on Feb. 13th.

Then, all hell breaks loose. Meters can finally start changing to the higher rates. Enforcement is redoubled. The ticket amnesty program ends on Feb. 14th and the day after that, two unpaid tickets in final determination can get you the boot.

Get ready Chicago!



Ask The Parking Ticket Geek – 1/26/09

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Dear Geek,

I was at a friend’s house last night and parked on permit only street. I apparently didn’t press the adhesive very tightly to my glass so it fell off. what is the best way to contest this.

Sharon

Hi Sharon-

Thanks for being patient.

I think you should DEFINITELY contest it.

You should simply say that you absolutely DID have the proper permit posted on your windshield. And make sure you bring the original or a copy of the permit filled out correctly.

But, because the weather was so damn cold, the adhesive on the temporary permit must have loosened from the cold and fell off. Bring in the weather report for that day as evidence.

Why should you be held responsible for the ticket if the city, because of budget cutbacks, is using cheap and/or defective glue on their permits?

You also might want to get the friend you were visiting to write a signed affidavit supporting your story by explaining that they indeed gave you the permit and you went outside to put it on your car. Just get him or her to have her statement notarized at a Currency Exchange.

I would be shocked if this didn’t work. This defense would work better with an in person hearing as opposed to contesting by mail.

Go for it and see what happens. Please report back.

Thanks

PTG!

I recently received a parking violation because from the mirror forward on my vehicle was in a “No Parking” zone. I figured the police would be forgiving with the side streets in complete disarray, and then I woke up.

I noticed the officer put the building number “1988″ but then scratched over it as “1968″. The issue is neither of those are existing addresses on my block. Is an incorrect address of the occurrence of the offense a worthy defense?

Jay D

Hi Jay-

First, getting a ticket for being a few feet into the no parking zone, when the side streets are as f@*cked as they are with all the snow, it pretty weak on the part of the cop that wrote it.

You would think people could get a little consideration in lieu of the weather circumstances.

Be that as it may, I think people should fight ALL their tickets. And when you fight your tickets, it never hurts to raise any and all defenses that may work.

In other words, I’m a big proponent of “kitchen sink” defenses.

Throw out as many unique defenses as you can when you contest and maybe one of them works or perhaps the hearing officer will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of defenses and feel the weight of your defense outweighs the facts alleged in the ticket.

However, your address defense is kind of weak. The two addresses are what, three buildings away from each other? If he had listed 968 but it was really 1968, then you may have a case. But a quarter of a block? That’s no big deal and won’t fly.

Specific to your case here’s what you should do.

1-Testify that you were not parked illegally.
2-I’ve heard some people suggest that you take some photos of your car parked legally behind the sign.
3-NEVER admit you were even an 1/8 of an inch over into a no parking zone.
4-Tell them the cop was confused as evidenced by the re-written address AND no such building address exists on the street.

I’d say you have better than a 50-50 chance.

Keep us posted.

The PTG

Hi Mr. Geek,

What are the five things you can use to fight a red light ticket? I just got one in mail.

They sent it on 1/18 but I “broke the law” on 12/17.

I turned right at the intersection that has the camera. According to their picture, I was going 16 mph when I turned. There are only three cars total there at the time, no traffic at all….

Any defense at all?

Thanks,

Anita :-(

Hi Anita-

Here is the official list of defenses for a red light ticket violation from the city of Chicago.

The following defenses are allowed for Red Light Violations recorded by automated cameras:

Violations issued pursuant to 9-102-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago. The operator of the vehicle was issued a uniform traffic citation for a violation of Section 9-8-020(c) or Section 9-16-030(c);

1. The violation occurred at any time during which the vehicle or its license plate was reported to a law enforcement agency as having been stolen, and the vehicle or license plate had not been recovered by the owner at the time of the alleged violation;

2. The vehicle was leased to another, and within sixty (60) calendar days after the citation was mailed to the owner, the owner submitted to the City of Chicago Department of Revenue the correct name and address of the lessee of the vehicle identified on the citation at the time of the violation, together with a copy of the lease agreement and any additional information as may be required by the Department;

3. The vehicle was an authorized emergency vehicle or was a vehicle lawfully participating in a funeral procession;

4. The facts alleged in the violation notice are inconsistent or do not support a finding that Section 9-8-020(c) or Section 9-16-030(c) was violated;

5. The respondent was not the registered owner or lessee of the cited vehicle at the time of the violation.

These red light violations are VERY hard, if nearly impossible to beat.

You have to hand it to the Redflex people, their camera systems are very precise and usually catch people dead to rights.

You can try contesting, but just over 2% of all contested red light tickets are dismissed. TWO PERCENT!!!!

With contesting parking tickets, your worst case scenario is 50%.

In other words, your chances are bad unless you fall into one of the five categories above or the video/photo evidence is somehow whacked.

Try contesting and see what happens. Keep us posted.

The PTG

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek with your query at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com