Monthly Archives: March 2009
Lillia Chacon reports in this news segment that LAZ Parking has admitted to receiving over 7000 calls reporting broken meters over the last month.
Its been a busy week for the geek. We will have a new Ticketmaster column, more Ask the Geek questions and a big update on enforcement. Stay tuned…
Then, he annoys viewers on the 10 o’clock news on NBC 5. Carol Marin is doing an investigative special report called “Meter Madness.”
I’m going to try not to embarrass myself, if that’s at all possible.
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.
On the north side, vandals use Superglue, expanding foam, spray paint or event duct tape, like in the photo below, to disable meters.
On the south side, they don’t fool around, they take their destruction and mayhem seriously.
They just light their meters on fire.
If you see vandalized parking meters, send photos to:email@example.com
Or, feel free to hang out here at The Expired Meter and vent to your heart’s delight.
What’s wrong with these people?
Do they really want their expensive video cameras damaged with my homely mug?
As teams of LAZ Parking’s employees have slowly, but quite surely, canvas the city, changing the parking meters to their new, much higher rates, another movement seems to be blossoming as a reaction to these changes.
At first, it seemed just random or coincidence when a broken meter was spotted. There’s no big surprise in finding a broken meter in Chicago–they’re everywhere.
But the number of broken meters seemed to be increasing and e-mails and comments began pouring into this website with tips, along with bits and pieces of information. Websites with very strident points of view have popped up over the past few weeks advocating everything from as simple as a boycott, to using pennies or nickels to fill up the meters to capacity and render them inoperable–at least temporarily.
An entire block of parking meters, numbering nearly 20, were spotted along west Irving Park in the Albany Park neighborhood, that had both the front and back of their heads spray painted black. Once spray painted, these meters are unreadable by Parking Enforcement Aides and therefore, vehicles can’t be ticketed as it’s impossible to see if the meters were fed or not.
LAZ Parking’s new decals have been removed in a concerted effort along Lincoln Ave. and other streets in the Lakeview neighborhood, leaving long stretches of meters without any instructions on how and when to feed the meters. This leaves the meter without the proper information required by law to be an operational parking meter. A motorist could easily contest any expired meter ticket on these meters because it doesn’t exhibit the proper information.
One tipster named Brian says, “In some cases, these decals just peel right off the front of the meter with little or no effort. When these stickers were originally applied, the weather was very cold and it seems the adhesive didn’t adhere correctly. These stickers just come right off. They also appear to be too big to fit into the recessed area they are being placed in. Yet another case of someone in charge not knowing what they are doing.”
In Boystown, along Halsted and Broadway, north and south of Addison, a multitude of meters have their coin slots jammed with quarters or other coins and what seems to be Super Glue or some other high strength adhesive. By our count, 40-50 meters had been vandalized in this way just in that area, with reports of this occurring at spots along Clybourn, Irving Park, Lincoln Ave. and elsewhere.
One individual calling his or her self “Illinois Patriot,” is calling for direct vandalism attacks to disable parking meters.
“WE, the people, need to start fighting back! Here are some ideas to fight back:,” states Illinois Patriot in a communique to The Expired Meter. “A good shot of expanding foam should feed the meter’s coin slot nicely. Don’t get caught… Epoxy putties and VHB sided foam tapes show additional promise for field expedient mayhem and merriment.”
Meters Removed or Damaged
One parking meter in Lakeview, again along Lincoln Ave., was actually removed from the sidewalk by someone, after it was loosened during a traffic accident.
“It was there on Saturday afternoon, but missing Monday morning,” said a local business owner whom asked to remain anonymous.
Another meter we found in Boystown had the entire coin box removed.
Overfeeding Meters With Pennies
One local blogger has championed feeding meters with pennies and nickels instead of quarters. While the other change does not register, once the meter’s coin reservoirs are filled, the meter will read FAIL and is inoperable, cannot be fed and is essentially a free parking spot.
“I’ve done it a couple of times,” says John, the Angry Chicagoan about his Penny Revolution. “I keep thinking one of these days I need to buy a few roll of pennies just to screw with them. A penny, nickel and dime are all legal tender. Consider it a gift to LAZ Parking. No jury in the world will convict you for giving someone money.”
And, in fact, there seems to be no municipal law restricting the use of feeding a parking meter other denominations of coins besides quarters.
“We are finding a lot of pennies and nickels in coin slots,” confirmed one LAZ Parking employee we confronted on the street. He wouldn’t give us his name, his job it is to repair parking meters. “We see a lot of that going on.”
LAZ Parking employees are working hard at keeping up with fixing the inoperable meters.
“We see quite a few of them (broken meters),” said Reggie Johnson, worker employed through a temporary labor company for LAZ Parking, who’s helping with the meter rate changes. “We log them (the broken meters) in and later on a repair crew comes out. Last week a crew I was working with fixed 200 meters in a (eight-hour) shift.”
Some individuals are taking softer, more community organization approach to exhibiting their anger.
One campaign at group action portal, The Point, lists it’s primary objective as “To force Chicago Parking Meter LLC to freeze the parking meter rates until Jan 1, 2011.” It’s an objective they plan to meet by asking drivers to boycott city meters.
At ChicagoParkingMeters.com, a single-page website promises beginning in April, “This site will be a web 2.0 portal for community organization focused on supporting our rights as residents of the city of Chicago.”
Still others are just making the decision not to park in normally congested areas like Lincoln Park, Wicker Park and Lakeview. Once, where busy streets were impossible to park on, now parking is plentiful. It seems people are deciding not to park in metered areas.
It’s just a simple economic reaction to the higher rates.
One reader named Mike explains saying, “The new Sunday meter regulations are set to ruin the city. The streets in front of our west loop condo used to be packed with cars Saturday nights and Sundays; no more. The spontaneity of going out to eat, shopping and visiting friends is already affected. Thank you Mayor Daley.”
Others plan to exit the city permenantly.
“After more than 20 years here I’m done, just done,” says Chicago Tom. “Our condo is for sale and when it does, we’re outta here. In one last act of defiance, my wife is going to drive our car and intentionally get a red light ticket with photo/video – we’ll have the plates disguised. When the video/photo is viewed, they’ll see my bare ass pressed against the back window accompanied a couple middle fingers. We’ll then drive out of town for the last time.”
Listen in sometime between 7-8 AM on WLUP 97.9 as the Geek will try to sound reasonably coherent despite his strong allergies to early mornings.
Stream The Loop live right here.
I have a severe accumulation of parking tickets accounting for several thousand in total. Is there any way to negotiate a total settlement for an amount lower than what owe on the books?
I just realized I missed an amnesty a few weeks ago, is there any other such program I can take advantage of?
Dude, you are SOL.
Unfortunately, these opportunities to get break from the city don’t come very often. The last time before this most recent parking ticket amnesty was, I believe, six years ago when the booting threshold changed from five unpaid tickets to three.
Currently, there are no discounting or amnesty programs available and you’re not going to be able to wait 5-10 years for the next one.
However, you can work out a payment plan with the city. There are several payment plans available.
I hope this works for you.
The alternative would be to move far, far away from Chicago.
Very truly yours,
Dear Parking Geek All-Knowing Almighty,
I recently moved to Chicago and bought a city sticker and placed it underneath the corner of my windshield. The sticker was clearly visible, serial number and all, and I was planning on pasting it this weekend (need to remove my old sticker and just didn’t want to bother then).
I got a $120 ticket for “No or Improperly Displayed City Sticker.” Not pasting the sticker is a valid reason to get a ticket, I guess, since it means you could lend it to someone else.
But the other thing is, it hasn’t been 30 days since I moved into the city. This means I can get the ticket overturned on that grounds, regardless of whether my sticker was properly displayed or not, right?
Should I contest it by mail (send in a copy of my lease, and maybe also a copy of the letter from the Secretary of State confirming that I’d changed the address for my vehicle registration after moving in), or in person? Also, do the copies I send need to be notarized?
Damn! You nailed it on every count.
You’re making me so happy and proud, I’m getting emotional and starting to choke up. Sniff! Someone pass me a tissue.
The Geek gives you an A+ George!
Send in your contest letter, your lease, receipt from the Secy. of State. Excellent.
Since you’re within the 30 days you should be OK.
Mail or in-person, it shouldn’t matter. Your case is so tight, you should win either way.
Keep us posted.
P.S. I don’t think you need anything notarized, but it won’t hurt anything if you do.
Dear Parking Ticket Geek,
My wife and I parked and went about our way after I paid the quarter needed for the remaining half-hour that was needed to stay where we were. I had paid to park in the row from 8:33pm to 9:03pm. The meter is only in effect until 9pm. Naturally, I figured there was no problem, and there never has been.
I come back to my car around 10pm and there’s a ticket on the window, and the receipt from the parking box down the road was on the dashboard but turned over, face down so it could be read. I am assuming my wife put it facing up, but with the wind or something before she closed the door, it blew over, and we didn’t think to check.
I come back, and I have a $50 ticket for “improper display of ticket.” however, I still have my receipt, and can show that I have obviously paid to be there during the time I was ticketed by SERCO.
Is there any chance of getting this ticket thrown out or would it even be worth it with court costs factored in? What ARE court costs?
Thank you for your time.
I’m kind of old school and try to avoid those new fangled Pay & Display machines whenever I can.
The good thing about the receipts they generate is, they are time and date stamped. So you should be able to fight this one and win.
I would fight it in person, but you can also contest by mail and prevail as well.
Just testify that you purchased the proper time, and put the receipt on the dashboard. Make a copy of the receipt showing the date and time it was good for, and that, when compared to the time on the ticket, should immediately invalidate the ticket in the hearing officers eyes.
It’s hard to dispute this type of evidence.
Also, try to avoid discussing whether the receipt was face up or down. You don’t know for sure as it may have have been properly displayed and the SERCO ticket guy missed it. It may have flipped over when YOU opened the door coming back to your car. If it comes up, just be honest and say you thought it was properly displayed.
As far as court costs…there are none. It cost nothing, $0 to contest a ticket. Just your time and energy, which is valuable enough.
Fight this one and you should win. Keep us posted.
Very truly yours,
The Parking Ticket Geek
Hello Parking Ticket Geek,
I got a ticket issued to me last Monday the 16th. The date on the ticket says 3/18/2008
which is obviously wrong. The ticket was for not having a city sticker. Since I didn’t even own a car in 2008, can I fight this?….easily?
You just dodged a $120 bullet.
Mistakes like this don’t happen very often, so you definitely need to take advantage and fight this.
Make several copies of your ticket for your records then go in person to a DOR hearing center to request a hearing right away. You could fight this by mail, but in-person would be better in this case (at least in my opinion).
At your hearing, make the case that you didn’t have a vehicle in 2008, and bring your current registration and the title, or receipt of purchase to prove you recently purchased the vehicle.
Explain that your ticket was issued with the wrong date and it should be thrown out. That’s because, you will explain, this ticket doesn’t establish a “prima facie case.” Cite this municipal code below.
9-64-220 Parking violations – Enforcement – Prima facie responsibility designated.
(b) Whenever any vehicle is parked in violation of any provision of the traffic code prohibiting or restricting vehicular parking or standing…The issuer of the notice shall specify on the notice his identification number, the particular parking regulation allegedly violated, the make and state registration number of the cited vehicle, and the place, date, time and nature of the alleged violation and shall certify the correctness of the specified information by signing his name as provided in Section 11-208.3 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.
You see, if the ticket has the wrong date, it’s an improperly written ticket–on it’s face.
Although, the time line the city will have on this ticket, will also prove the ticket was issued with the incorrect date as well.
In the meantime, between requesting your hearing and having your hearing, you need to get yourself a city sticker if your car is registered within city limits. It sucks to pony up the $75 (although there may be late fees depending on when you registered the vehicle), but that costs less than the ticket does. Do it right away.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org