DEVELOPING: Parking Meter Wasteland

Something doesn’t seem right in the 2nd Ward.

Let me explain.

Back in late October, the city installed 1250 meters in what can only be called a parking dead zone, near the Illinois Medical District.

Allegedly, it had something to do with keeping people from abandoning vehicles or parking for extended periods of time in that area. But, in reality, there’s a school and a church, a few apartment buildings, but no retail businesses around there. In other words, there’s no reason to go there and park your car.

But now, even more meters are being installed in that general area. Hundreds and hundreds of them.

LAZ Parking employees were on the street inserting timing devices into the meter heads when I was there and hoped the meter installation would there by yesterday or today.

The story was brought to my attention by Carol Marin who is doing a story on this and other meter related issues for NBC 5 at 10:00 PM. Parking meters as far as the eye could see, and no cars there to park there. I tried to count them but I lost track after a while.

The city nor representatives from 2nd Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti’s office knew how many meters were being installed.

“You should have seen it before,” says Andy Pierce, a spokesman for Ald. Fioretti’s office. “When the meters went up, the cars stopped parking.”

But when I asked Pierce, why an expensive traffic congestion tool like parking meters, were being installed in large quantities to control a situation that could have been handled less expensively with signs and/or increased police patrols, he said, “Let me say it again, before meters, the area was jammed with cars. Meters changed the commuters behavior.”

The area in question is essentially between Ashland and Wood, and 13th and 15th streets. Generally blocks and blocks of parking meters for a wasteland of vacant lots.

Based on a cost of approximately $500 to install each meter, you’re looking at around a $1 million in hardware and no one to park there and feed the meters.

What kind of return on investment is that?

If the city is footing the bill for this when we already have a multi-million dollar budget hole this is an absolutely irresponsible expense.

If LAZ Parking is footing the bill, aren’t they going to be furious that they have to pay to install hundreds of meters that will NEVER generate income?

Well, maybe in 75 years.

12 Responses to DEVELOPING: Parking Meter Wasteland

  1. Thomas says:

    I am a student in the Illinois Medical District and I can say rarely anything parks there now since the city put these horrible things. Cars would never park there overnight as all of them were either students, workers, or patients to the hospital. Once they started putting the meters, they did one block at a time and literally u would see the cars shift weekly down a block till they completed it all. A real shame in what the city took away free parking for the medical district.

  2. Alvin says:

    This is a great place to go and hone one’s meter-killing skills. I’ll be practicing this weekend.

  3. John says:

    I seem to recall that part of the contract says that when the city removes meters from one area, it has to replace them by adding meters to another area.

    Perhaps the boycott is killing business to the extent that the city is trying to save certain economically distressed areas by removing the meters from those areas and replacing them by filling blocks of vacant lots with meters.

    I know that there used to be meters on Milwaukee Ave just south of Lawrence, but they were removed last year. There are still scars on the ground where the posts used to be.

    Just speculation.

  4. dio says:

    I don’t understand the term “free parking”. Its a public area, why is “free parking” wrong and why is there a need to change “commuter behavior” as Pierse said?? There is “free parking” outside of my house right now… is the goal to place parking meters on every street out there. Unless there is a high traffic commercial area is front of THAT particular street, there shouldn’t bee meters.

  5. CC says:

    First of all, I’d just like to say that this Andy Pierce dude is full of bull-sh*t!!! I’ve lived near this whole area in question for 25 years and pass it very often and yet I have never seen the area supposedly “jammed” with cars that he claims to have seen. Even when people(mostly employees at these places) do park near the areas of the school and such, it’s not even that many cars to begin with. Yet how many blocks beyond this area were/are always desolate…and now there are just a crapload of these stupid meters that are never being used. “Yeah, good job LAZ Parking…Keep up the great work!” *Rolls Eyes*

  6. J. Storm says:

    Before the meters were installed (and possibly still), one would regularly see police officers sleeping or reading newspapers in their parked cars and vans scattered about the area while curbside drug deals were taking place, just to the east, on Ashland Avenue.

  7. LVResident says:

    I used to work in the District, and park in the affected area. Now, his statements of the “streets being packed” were only true for a few blocks around 13th street/Paulina. For the most part, all cars were there between 8am-5pm.

    Now, who in the world would have been complaining about “lack of parking?” There are clearly no residents in the area, so something is fishy.

    I wonder how many coins are actually collected from those meters, and how often. I’d like to think that they collect nothing from 90% of those meters ever.

    What a farce. Term limits for Aldermen and mayors. Political corruption is the result of voter complacency.

  8. Redd Klaats says:

    I’ve been pointing this out to whoever would listen since last November. Have passed that area for years and there were never the number of cars that anyone references and certainly not overnight. It’s still a popular place for police to read papers and sleep. And the expense to install them all !! Why wouldn’t you make these 10 hour meters at a reasonable rate so hospital people could use them and some income would be generated. They were all installed before the meter sale. Some sleazy attempt to pad the numbers for the meter sale? Same thing goes for Des Plaines, Clinton, Jefferson, Canal north of Roosevelt. Pre meters there were thousands of commuters parking there daily. Now, with 3 hour meters, no one. Is this company TRYING to lose money. Not sure if it’s true but I’ve heard the contract with Chi Parking Meters is such that they get covered by the city if they sustain a loss. God help us all. PLEASE let this be the Snow of ’79 gets this smirking jerk out of office.

  9. mrgoodbar says:

    Just wanted to say that this area is actually parked up (not a lot, but some) during weekdays by Hospital workers and students at UIC’s west campus. In fact, this was THE best place to park because there were no meters for the longest time.

    Around the hospital in particular the meters were always strict with no free over night parking, so if you’re looking for free parking that didn’t require you to come out in the middle of the night to pump quarters in a meter this was the place.

    I always thought it was a complete sham that the meters around the hospital were specifically designed to punish people who wanted to stay overnight with sick family, and this was before the privatization!

    Yes, it does look very strange during off hours when the area is completely deserted and it’s nothing but a cracked pavement wasteland and row upon row of shiny new meters – in a way I could easily see it becoming sort of the poster child for the city’s current meter madness.

    Glad someone found it and took some snap shots.

  10. Bullshit says:

    CC, if you would like to meet and duke it out, let me know. Otherwise, be a gentleman.

  11. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Hey Bullshit-

    I’m not exactly sure what you’re referring to in your comment. Can you explain what part of CC’s comment you have issues with? I like to keep things civil and respectful here (and it sounds like you do too), even if everyone doesn’t agree, but I’m not sure what you’re objecting to. I just want to know what to look out for.

    I have a general idea, but I was hoping you would be specific.

    If you want to e-mail me, that’s cool too.

    Thanks BS!

  12. [...] Nostalgic types might consider it a sad day when the last of Chicago’s old fashioned single head parking meters got replaced in late spring in a desolate section of the near South Side. [...]

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