Ask The Parking Ticket Geek 4/6/09


Good Afternoon Geek:

April is here, and the street cleaning signs have made their first appearance on my

Truth be told, I am glad to see them, since on either side of the street there is a thick layer of crushed organic goo (left over from this past autumn and brutal winter) that reaches almost as high as the curb itself. But I digress. . .

I have just noticed an interesting omission from the new and improved advisory
signs. While the “PHOTO ENFORCED” phrase is now clearly displayed, another
important phrase that had adorned signs in the past has mysteriously vanished. That phrase being: “THIS SIDE OF STREET ONLY.”

Yellow Wednesday

Street Cleaning Sign From 2008

Should this be cause for concern? Is it possible that this gives Streets & Sanitation immunity in issuing tickets to BOTH sides of the street on street cleaning days even though signs are only posed along one side? Curious to hear your opinion on this matter.


Aaron in Ravenswood

Hi Aaron-

I wouldn’t read too much into that omission. I don’t think it’s worth getting stressed out about.

The municipal code seems to indicate that the signs must be posted to specifically designate the “part of the street” that is to be cleaned.

Plus, it’s been common practice from time immemorial to only clean one side of the street at a time. Otherwise, it would be parking chaos. They have to allow SOME place to relocate your vehicle if you park on the street. Otherwise, there would be an uprising with blood on the streets.

Notice that there is usually one colored sign for one side of the street and another for the other side, indicating each side has a different cleaning day.

If somehow, you get a ticket for parking on the side that’s not marked, just photograph the lack of signs and use the street cleaning schedules as proof that you should not have been ticketed.

Very truly yours,

The Geek

P.S. While Streets & Sans employees CAN issue tickets, normally it’s cops or PEA’s who will actually write the street cleaning violations.

Hi Mr. Geek,

I parked in Wrigelyville Saturday afternoon on Clark in front of a Pay & Display box.

When I got to the box, it clearly said, “Machine Out of Order,” and kindly had the date and time visible in its display as well. My friend took a picture of it for me.

Sure enough, when we got back to the car, there was the bright orange ticket, and an array of them at the cars parked behind mine as well. It was my understanding that if the machine was out of order, like a meter, no tickets should be issued.

I saw another (not sure what the PC term is but sure it’s not Meter Maid) coming down the street and looking for the tickets. I went and asked her and explained to her how I thought this was supposed to work.

She told me that we should have gone to the box across the street and gotten the ticket there. We had looked across the street when we parked, and saw the “old” style meters, and they were all full.

She pointed across the street and down a block, and there was another box.

Really? How far am I supposed to travel to pay to park? I already sent in my contest request…but I’m nervous because she pointed out the other box. Thoughts?



It sounds like a bit of hogwash to me.

But I called the LAZ Parking help line to see what they had to say.

The lady on the phone gave me the same song and dance. She says you should go across and/or down the street to use another Pay & Display machine.

But, on the street, how are supposed to know this? It’s not posted on their precious machines? They don’t tell you where other machines are located. The LAZ lady readily admitted this to me. How do you know where these alleged other machines are? Are you supposed to strike off into the great unknown until you randomly, possibly, potentially stumble across one?

This is confusing as best.

It’s even more confusing as the municipal code has no instruction for dealing with this except to say if the meter or machine is broken, you don’t have to pay.

9-64-190  Parking meter zones – Regulations.

It shall be unlawful to park any vehicle in a designated parking meter zone or space without depositing United States currency of the denomination indicated on the meter …It is not a violation of this section to park a vehicle at a zone or space served by a meter that does not function properly, provided that the meter is inoperable or malfunctioning through no fault of the vehicle’s operator.

Look Marion. The machine was broken. You couldn’t pay the machine. You took a photo.

Call in the machine to LAZ at 877-242-7901. Tell them your story and report the machine as broken on the date in question. Also call 312-744-PARK and report it to the city.

Bring the photos in with you at the hearing and tell them you reported the machine broken to both LAZ and the city.

I can’t see how you can lose.

Making motorists bust ass to locate a working machine is not in the muni code and is patently unfair. LAZ needs to fix their damn machines and follow the law.

Very truly yours,

The Geek

I live in suburban Wheaton, IL and just got a ticket for being parked on the street over night.

Now I live in a private residence on a private street. The city doesn’t maintain our road. We actually just recently had it all re-paved. Is it legal for them to give me a ticket for parking on a private road. I thought cops had to be called to even travel down the road. We even have a sign at both entrances that says, “Private Property.”

Thank You



We normally only handle Chicago parking tickets here. In addition, I’m not familiar with parking laws in Wheaton, nor am I an attorney.

The main thing I remember about Wheaton that is, up until fairly recently, you couldn’t purchase alcohol in Wheaton. I think Wheaton College, a Christian institution, had some influence on that previous policy.

But your question is strangely compelling to a parking ticket obsessed savant/nitwit like myself.

It seems to me this would be the same as ticketing someone in a private parking lot, in your garage or on your driveway. In most cases, you cannot be ticketed on private property.

I would think your bylaws of your subdivision or condo association would dictate how and when you can park on this private controlled property.

I would just bring proof from your subdivision establishing the road as private AND bring photos of the signs specifying this as well.

I gotta think this should be dismissed on these grounds.

Keep us posted.

The Geek

Dear Geek,

Hey man, I really appreciate what you’re doing with your site. Keep it up!

I recently received a parking ticket for having a CLEAR plastic cover over my
rear license plate. The issuing officer cited “9-76-160d” so I looked up the
City Municipal Code and found the following:

9-76-160(d) Every registration plate shall at all times be securely fastened in a horizontal position…shall be maintained free from foreign materials and in a condition to be clearly legible. No registration plate shall be covered by any “tinted” or colored screen.

It seems clear to me that I was in no way violating this definition and WILL
be contesting this in person. Any thoughts or help would be greatly

Thanks again!


Hey Blink!

Good going. Your clear plate holder should not fall within the city’s legal definition. Clear or transparent is NOT tinted or colored.

Just make sure you read the law to the hearing officer.

And bring photos of your plate that show your plate is perfectly readable through the CLEAR plastic cover.

Great work. Tell us how this works out for you.


The Geek

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.

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9 Responses to Ask The Parking Ticket Geek 4/6/09

  1. Hilarious Joe says:

    I have definitely noticed that over the previous several months, there has been absolutely no street cleaning going on. In winters past, if there was no snow on the ground, there would always be intermittent street cleaning. This winter, there was no street cleaning whatsoever in November, February, and March, all months which had little to no snow cover on the ground. Highly unusually for Chicago, but definitely a symptom, I think, of major budget cuts (even though i believe that street cleaning is actually a net money maker for the city due to the amount of parking tickets issued for that violation).

  2. mythdraug says:

    I don’t know about Wheaton; but in Des Plaines, it is possible for a housing association to request the city to enforce the parking regulations on otherwise private property.

    An example of this can be seen at the following URL:

  3. Anon says:

    Stop telling people to call LAZ to fix meters! Broken meters = free parking. Why try to end it?

  4. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I agree with you. However, if you get a ticket, you greatly increase your chances of beating the ticket at a broken meter by reporting that broken meter.

    Otherwise, I am with you. Don’t report broken meters unless you’re ticketed at one.

  5. Peter Parker says:


    When are you going to cut the LAZ guys some slack? They have been in charge of the meters since mid February and they are expected to wave a magic wand and suddenly fix everything.

    “She told me that we should have gone to the box across the street and gotten the ticket there. We had looked across the street when we parked, and saw the “old” style meters, and they were all full.”

    I agree that what’s described above has to be fixed by LAZ but it’s was that way for months before they took over.

  6. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Hey Peter-

    I have problems with both the city and LAZ on this one. The PEA gave out the wrong info and probably ticketed a lot of cars despite the machine being out of order and the LAZ operator is trying to tell me something erroneous about the muni code.

    Machines don’t work, people still get ticketed erroneously. Should we all just shrug it off and say, “no big deal.”?

    Just wondering.

    Thanks Pete.

  7. Peter,
    I’ll give LAZ some slack as soon as they pay the city what the contract is really worth. $4+ billion according to Alderman Waguespack. They basically stole this contract from the residents of the city and the workers of both the city and LAZ are uninformed about the laws they are supposed to enforce. Why should the residents of the city be punished for the obvious lack of training at both LAZ and the city? What is the “real” cost of this whole fiasco in terms of time lost searching for a machine that works (in the city that no longer works) and fighting improper tickets? Not to even mention the quadrupled parking rates.

    I also suggest everyone start using coins in the pay boxes instead of using your credit card. Might as well make them earn what little money they did give the city.

    The Angry Chicagoan

  8. Greg says:

    Angry -

    It may be worth $4 billion, but with the boycott of the meters (I again today saw many empty meters all over the River North area, usually packed with cars) it is going to take MUCH longer to recoup that cost (though it actually isn’t LAZ that has the contract.)

    So if there is some justice, this is it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Eh, Greg, I’ve seen the boycott in action. Recently I saw HALF A MILE of empty meter parking spaces! That is the length of the former Meigs runway! A brand new open lane, waiting for anyone to drive down like they are trying to take off like a plane!

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