Winter Parking Ban Towing Down By 48%
Finally a break for drivers.
It seems the only positive thing about the Chicago budget deficit is that the city cutbacks in personnel is resulting in less cars getting towed off streets with an overnight winter parking ban.
According to the Sun-Times’ fabulous city hall reporter, Fran Spielman, there have been 3,604 LESS cars towed off winter ban streets than last year resulting in an estimated loss of $580,000 in desperately needed revenue for the city.
This info should NOT be considered encouragement to park on these winter parking ban streets. Don’t do it! Read the signs! Be careful! Do not risk being towed!
Check out the details in Ms. Spielman’s flagrant act of journalism below.
By Fran Spielman
Drivers who defy Chicago’s winter overnight parking ban normally find their cars missing the next morning. They’re snapped up and towed away in a flash.
Not so this winter.
Towing has nearly been cut in half — from 7,529 vehicles between Dec. 1 and Feb. 16 last winter — to 3,905 during the same period this winter. And the city has lost nearly $580,000 in towing and storage revenues at a time when most other tax revenues are plummeting — because of a shortage of field vehicle investigators.
Field vehicle investigators write tow cases and tickets on the 109 miles of street where overnight parking is banned from Dec. 1 through April 1 no matter the weather conditions. Only when vehicles are written up can tow trucks be called in to swoop them up.
Mayor Daley’s 2009 budget eliminated the jobs of all but four of 31 full-time field vehicle investigators assigned to handle the towing of abandoned vehicles.
Although snow tows are handled by seasonal hires, union bumping rights gave the laid-off, full-time investigators a chance to apply for the seasonal jobs. That delayed the hiring process and slowed the number of snow tows.
Until Tuesday, only five of the 10 positions were filled.
“We wanted to make sure people laid off had a chance at full-time work. That process takes time,” said Streets and Sanitation spokesman Matt Smith.
“We’re looking out for the workers to make sure they land on their feet. While there is a delay, it’s for a good reason.”
But Lou Phillips, business manager of Laborers Union Local 1001, accused the Daley administration of “dropping the ball” on the “biggest money-making season of the year” for city towing.
“In previous years, when asphalt helpers were laid off in December, they were moved directly to Streets and San as field vehicle investigators. That wasn’t done this year. They didn’t follow up,” Phillips said.
The decline in snow-tow revenues could not come at a more difficult time. Chicago’s 2009 budget is already $50.5 million in the hole.
It’s not like aldermen weren’t warned.
In an Oct. 20 letter urging aldermen to restore the job cuts, field vehicle investigators argued that they generated $27.2 million in annual revenue, nearly $1 million per investigator.
“It simply defies logic for a city that supposedly works to virtually eliminate a department that works — and works at a profit,” the letter stated.