Monthly Archives: March 2009

Chicago Parking Meters LLC Apologizes For Missteps

This afternoon at city hall, Chicago Parking Meters LLC was made the whipping boy by the Daley Administration for all the problems that have occurred with the parking meter lease deal.

The mayor’s chief of staff Paul Volpe has some harsh words for the lessee of Chicago’s parking meter system saying “These mistakes are simply unacceptable,”

CEO for Chicago Parking Meters LLC, Dennis Pedrelli essentially apologized saying they, “under-estimated the resources required” in the transition to complete meter rate changes, fix broken meters, etc.

Pedrelli says that the company will halt it’s own ticket enforcement, is hiring more personnel to help with meter repairs and emptying meters and claims that 90% of the problems are solved.

Yeah, right.

Check out CBS 2′s news video coverage of the press conference with a brief appearance by that dimwit the Parking Ticket Geek.

And of course, the incomparable Fran Spielman has more of the juicy details in her Sun-Times report.

Welcome To Pothole City

All you drivers know how hellish the potholes have been this winter.

Now Mayor Daley knows from first hand experience. It seems that last Tuesday, according to Michael Sneed’s column in Thursday’s Sun-Times, the Mayor’s Lincoln Town Car hit a pothole so big on Pulaski Ave., it flattened two of his tires.

And reporter Mary Wisniewski reported in Saturday’s Sun-Times that it’s been a record year for potholes in Chicago, as the city has filled 280,000 since December 1–a number equal to the total potholes filled last year.

Ouch!

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek 3/30/09

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Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

I live in Lakeview and there are a couple of meters at the start of my block. Aproximately six, three on each side of the street. Normally the rates stop at 9 p.m. and free on Sundays.

Today I come home after the Shamrock Shuffle to find two tickets slipped under my wiper. I immediately ran upstairs, grabbed my camera, and started snapping.

After a few shots I noticed that the labels on my meter were gone as well as the meter behind me (the car directly behind also had 2 tickets).

Do I have a case to contest? Any help would be appreciated!

Keep up the great work and F**CK the city and LAZ!

Jonathan

Jonathon-

Obviously, you know now, there is no such thing as free Sundays at parking meters anymore.

But, If there are no stickers telling you when you have to feed the meter, than how would you know when to feed them?

My guess is that the decals peeled off. We’ve had MANY reports of these stickers peeling off the meter heads. Not only are they about 1/4 inch too big for the indented portion of the
meter designed for decals AND, more importantly the adhesive on the decals sucks. The old rectangular yellow decals the city used couldn’t be peeled off unless someone used power tools. But these decals LAZ purchased, according to many e-mailers, come off with just an easy pull in some cases.

Photograph the meter AND the back of the meter head to show the meter number on that little metal plate.

But also, call LAZ at 877-242-8901 and report the missing decals so they have a record. I would call 312-744-PARK and report it to the city as well.

Make sure you mention that lack of stickers meets defense #3 of the city’s “seven accepted defenses” at your hearing or in your contest letter:

3-The relevant signs prohibiting or restricting parking were missing or obscured;

Good luck, keep us posted.

The Geek

Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

I received a ticket for “Park/Standing prohibited anytime” on a residential street. The parking area is a trapezoid shaped spot with 3 car spots. The front ~8ft and rear ~8ft has a sign that says “No Parking”. I received a ticket on Friday for parking over the line.

Is this disputable? Does it matter that only a small portion of my car was over?

Here is the pic:

It’s pretty ridiculous to have a portion of the parking area deemed as unparkable when it serves no other purpose.

Thanks,

Don

Dear Don,

Yeah, I agree, by your photo and description, it does seem supremely ridiculous.

Unfortunately for yourself, you’re screwed. Four feet, one foot, one inch, it doesn’t matter–especially if they have photographic evidence. Your photo showing only a few feet,  still shows you in violation.

Yeah, this sucks. But it’s the law. Fight it anyways, you never know what might happen.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

The Parking Geek

Dear Geek,

I’m sure this has been asked, but after browsing your site for some time, I haven’t found an answer.

Do Chicago parking meters accept the golden dollar? I seem to remember seeing a picture of the dollar coin on some meters.

Do some take it and others don’t? I was thinking about getting some dollar coins from the bank instead of quarters.

Rich

Dear Rich,

Multiple calls to LAZ’s help line came leads me to believe all the meters have been changed to ONLY accept quarters–despite the fact some meters still say they accept the dollar coins.

“We were told that the meters only accept quarters,” one LAZ operator told me. “We have had calls from people complaining they deposited the dollar coin but didn’t get a dollar’s worth of time. So we encourage only using quarters.”

So, while I like your thinking, in my opinion, you could be spending $1 for only 25 cents worth of time. So don’t screw yourself. Stick with jamming your pockets full of quarters. Ultimately, the weight of the quarters will strengthen your legs, saving you money on working out at the gym membership that you can’t afford anymore.

Very truly yours,

The Geek

Dear Expired Meter,

I got a petty ticket while parked for having a plastic cover over my back license plate. $50.00!

Can I pay that ticket in person with pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters?

No wait, I need the quarters.

Any law prohibiting it that you know of?

Thanks for any comment, and nice work on your blog.

Thanks,

Mike

Dear Mike,

I quickly breezed through the municipal code and find no restriction for paying in whatever denomination of U.S. legal tender you would like to use. In fact, I don’t see how they can refuse any form of legal U.S. coin or currency.

Very creative thinking on your part. If your or others are so inclined, show your frustration by paying in pennies. Make them count it in front of you. I’m sure that will make the cashiers VERY happy to count 5000 pennies!

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

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

The Geek On WLS AM Tuesday Afternoon

I’ve been a long time fan and listener to the Roe Conn show on WLS 890 AM.

It’s a great balance of intelligent discussion of politics and current events, laced with humor. A really great show.

That is, until this Tuesday afternoon.

That’s when The Parking Ticket Geek discusses all things parking with the Conn crew starting at around 3:30 PM.

I hope to God, for the station’s sake, it’s not an Arbitron ratings period.

You can listen to WLS AM live right here.

Lamenting Loss Of Free Sunday Meter Parking

GEEK EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Sunday, for the foreseeable future, The Expired Meter will feature local writers or bloggers speaking out about the recent loss of free Sunday meter parking.

Local writer Carl, opines on this subject at Life In The Great Midwest blog.

More on Chicago Parking

On Sunday I went out to Bucktown, where I used to live, to get some lunch and maybe walk around and look at stores since it was such a nice day. However, I forgot to take into account the new parking meter situation.

We pulled up on Division street (a big east-west street) and there was plenty of street parking – which always has been free on Sunday – but now officially it was 25 cents for 8 minutes of parking or $2 / hr.

We scrounged up change in the car but I didn’t have too many quarters – I started feeding dimes into the meter but then realized that it wasn’t adding any time. Even though the meter didn’t say anything, clearly it was quarters or nothing.

I looked at the other cars nearby on street parking and most of the meters were flashing which means that they were out of time. I guess either the word hadn’t gotten out yet on the new rules for Sunday or people were just taking a calculated risk that they wouldn’t get ticketed (or if the meter maids showed up and started ticketing everyone, they likely wouldn’t get to their car).

Not wanting a ticket and being a boring law-abiding citizen, I drove around to the side streets but they were all “zoned” for particular stickers and I couldn’t park there, either, without running the risk of getting towed.

In the end we just gave up and drove home and we walked around our own neighborhood, River North, and ate at the Green Door and had a non-green beer. I guess going forward I will need to drive around with a roll of quarters in my car (100 quarters is 25 bucks – in the unlikely event that you fed meters all day that would buy you one day of parking) because it will add up very quickly should I need to park on a Chicago street.

I have no idea how they are going to empty the meters that fill up so quickly – 100 quarters would probably fill the meter in a day. Plus all the other change that people put in since there are no signs that only quarters are accepted. Maybe if I am bored I will fill the meter with pennies… and then say it is out of order.

Given that it took the company Laz that manages the meters MONTHS just to apply a damn sticker to the meters saying that meter payment is required all the time I have no hope that they are going to move to a credit card system or something like that any time soon for those areas that don’t have this today (I have seen some complicated machines that allowed you to pay by credit card in the Loop).

Given all the opportunities for tickets I wouldn’t be surprised to see hordes of police on Sunday, a day when people have traditionally expected that meters were free, ticketing away freely and earning money for the city.

UPDATE: City Cleans Up Pretty Damn Quick

Sorry, I should have posted this on Thursday.

After all the media attention (here at The Expired Meter, of course and on TV) spotlighting some of the areas of vandalized meters, the city was out in just a few hours to fix the problem.

On Wednesday’s 9 PM news on Fox 32, the block of meters on Irving Park, that had been spray painted were clean by the next morning.

The same goes for the seemingly superglued meters on Broadway & Addision were fixed by Thursday morning as well.

Isn’t it great to live in the “city that works?”

How Many People Does It Take To Fix A Broken Meter?

It’s Friday, the Geek’s brutal cold is kicking his butt, and the meter rate increases have embittered the city. So we’re going to try to inject some levity into your Friday.

Joke: How many people does it take to fix a broken parking meter?

Punchline: Apparently a shitload!

The photo (taken near Sheffield and Clybourn) and the joke submitted by an anonymous tipster.

If you have a photo or story you want to share with The Expired Meter, please e-mail it to: tips@theexpiredmeter.com

LAZ Beefing Up Meter Maintenance, Collections

Weeks, and thousands of complaints later, LAZ Parking, is promising to get a grip on all the broken meters via expanding hours from 11-13 per day, go to a seven day a week maintenance schedule, and hire more employees to assist with collections.

According to Fran Spielman’s Sun-Times story, Vandalism at parking meters up after rate hike, LAZ is also moving up their timeline to replace all single head parking meters with Pay & Display units with the first new units scheduled to begin getting installed within a few weeks.

Have Breakfast With The Geek On Fox TV

Grab a bowl of Cheerios and milk and sitdown for breakfast with the Parking Ticket Geek on Fox Thing In The Morning to discuss the parking meter increases and the “meter revolt”.

Tune in channel 32 TV about 8:15 AM on Thursday morning.

City Comes To The Rescue On Broken Meters

LAZ Parking can’t seem to keep up with the broken and vandalized meters.

It’s being so overwhelmed by meter complaints, the city is sending it’s own meter maintenance crews to help fix the meters and the problem, according to a report on Chicago Breaking News.

The city crews are reported to be on the job for the next two weeks until LAZ can hire enough meter technicians to keep up with all the inoperable meters.

Luckily for tax payers, the city will be billing LAZ for the city’s meter maintenance services.