No Meters Changed Two Weeks Into Lease
It’s been nearly two weeks since control of Chicago’s parking meters officially changed hands from the city to the new lessee, Chicago Parking Meter, LLC on January 1, 2009.
Yet, in that time period, there’s no evidence that even one of the over 36,000 meters, have been adjusted to reflect the new rates or days and times of operation.
It’s not a surprise that it would take quite a bit of time to convert the thousands of parking meters to the new rates and post new decals and/or signs that reflect the seven day a week enforcement and hours of operation.
City of Chicago Department of Revenue spokesperson Ed Walsh concurs. “It’s going to take some time,” says Walsh. “There are 36,000 meters in the city. The older meters will take a lot of time to change because they have to get inside the head of the meter to change it. All the decals have to be changed too.”
But it is truly surprising that the new lessees, Chicago Parking Meter LLC did not hit the ground running as the start of the new year. One would have assumed, based on how quickly the parking meter lease deal was passed by the city council (72 hours), the process for changing over parking meters would have begun already.
But, I guess if you have a 75 year lease, there’s really no hurry.
While Walsh “believed” the process of changing the meter rates had begun or was about to begin, he couldn’t confirm this. He also expected the Department of Revenue would announce something by the end of the month confirming all the meters have been switched over.
But I wouldn’t count on this fast track timetable.
I spoke to five different Parking Enforcement Aides (PEAs), whom spend their entire work day traversing the streets of Chicago in search of expired parking meters (and other violations) to write tickets, and not one of them has seen anyone adjusting meters nor any meters reflecting the new rates.
“Neither I nor my colleagues haven’t seen anyone changing the meter rates yet,” said the always reliable PEA Ticketmaster. “Don’t know what is going on? However, I have recieved a copy of the job flyer from the company who took over the meters and they are looking for some good workers.”
At least for now LAZ Parking (the Morgan Stanley company that manages the Millennium Park parking garages), seems to be spearheading the hiring effort for Chicago Parking Meter, LLC.
According to the LAZ Parking website, there are many job openings available for people looking to work for Chicago Parking Meter LLC. These jobs did not get posted until just a week ago, Monday, January 5.
This most likely means the employees who would be responsible for adjusting the meters to the new rates have not even been hired yet.
Multiple calls to Morgan Stanley, LAZ Parking and City of Chicago’s Office of Budget & Management for information and confirmation, went unreturned.
The good news for drivers is that it could take weeks before you start seeing meters with adjusted rates/days & times of operation. It may take several months for all of the meters to be switched.
So, for at least the short term, enjoy your street parking at 2008 prices.
But be careful anyways while the meter system is in flux.
Look at the meter you park at carefully. Check the bright yellow decal that explains the days and hours of operation.
Follow what the decal says. If the sticker doesn’t specify you have to feed the meter on Sunday. Don’t feed it on Sunday. Even though Sunday enforcement is the rule, this rule cannot be enforced if the meter does not have the correct information on the front of it.
According to an e-mail I have seen, PEAs have been specifically instructed not to enforce the new rates or days/times of operation unless it’s posted on the meter.
If you are mistakenly ticketed, you have an easy defense as long as you photograph the meter.