Monthly Archives: November 2009
The Parking Ticket Geek and The Expired Meter teamed up with CBS 2 News Thursday night to report on some pretty amazing data about Chicago’s parking meter system and the meter lease deal.
The information essentially confirms what most people knew already–Chicago vastly undervalued the meter lease deal by hundreds of millions of dollars.
That’s because with the higher rates and new pay and display meter units, the new meter company is raking in the revenue.
The internal documents obtained by CBS 2 and theexpiredmeter.com reveal that LAZ Parking projects $75 million in proceeds next year, the second year of the 75-year meter lease, with expenses of $15 million. That would be a net income of $60 million.
The city is not fooling around anymore.
According to the Tribune, starting January 1, 2010, If you get stopped without having a proper driver’s license, the city will impound your car and fine you $500. When you add in the towing fee, the grand total is $665.
The city council just passed the law this Wednesday.
My advice? Get your damn driver’s license or DON’T drive.
While parking ticket enforcement is up in Chicago, ticket revenue payments are down for the past four months.
That’s according to a report by Carol Marin & Don Moseley last night on NBC 5, and in today’s Sun-Times which both say, for May through August of 2009, ticket revenue is down $3.9 million from the same period a year ago.
One wonders if it’s just the effects of a difficult recession and motorists inability to pay that accounts for this steep decline, or is it possibly a mild form of protest as well?
Local musician Adam Becvare doesn’t like Chicago parking tickets. Hates them really.
But, every time his band The Lust Killers play their hometown, he co-opts the powerful and unsettling graphic imagery of Chicago’s bright orange parking tickets to alert fans to their shows.
Becvare brought The Lust Killer’s signature design scheme to our attention a few weeks ago in the wake of our story about Wicker Park hotwing restaurant Wing Stop employing the parking ticket icon in a promotional flier.
“He (Wingstop owner Mike Pirozzoli) totally got the idea from us,” says Becvare who points out the first time he used it was for a show at the Double Door, about a block from where Wingstop is located.
It was this show his band played with The Romantics in February of 2004 where he debuted his promotional concept.
“When I got here back in 2003, I was drilled with parking tickets so hard, I came up with the idea to use parking tickets to promote our show,” says Becvare.”I just knew this idea would put us on the map.”
The promotion worked. The Double Door was sold out. But it also got the band some unwanted attention of the city. It seems some of Chicago’s finest decided to come to the show to confront the band for alleged forgery of city documents.
“It was a shakedown,” explained Becvare. “The cops tried to fine us for ‘forging a city document’ but we ended up paying a fine for littering of $10 per flier they found which was just five, so 50 bucks.”
Despite using the same concept every year the band is back in town from touring to play a show, The Lust Killers have not run afoul of the city for the last five years.
“We got smarter about it,” Becvare says. “Now we send out a group of girls out to the bars to pass out fliers for the show. They get a kick out of it.”
Becvare explains that he likes using the parking ticket concept to promote his band because it reflects his personal outlook on life.
“It’s serious enough to piss some people off but it’s still all in good fun,” explains Becvare. “It’s hilarious when people come out of the bars at 2 AM and flip out when they see a ‘parking ticket’ on their car. They start checking out street signs and then just throw it in the car without reading it. The next day, they take the time to look at it and see it’s realy a flier.”
And according to Becvare, the strategy succeeds.
Becvare, a professional musician, was a member of Vancouver punk band The Black Halos until their breakup in July 2008. It was then he decided to devote his energies to The Lust Killers. While not currently signed to a label, the band recently finished recording in July and spends a lot of time out of town touring both coasts and Europe.
“It’s ’77 New York sort of rock and roll,” says Becvare describing the band’s sound. “Sometimes people call us punk because it’s fast. But it’s also a little moody at times.”
Check out The Lust Killers this Wednesday with Nothing to Gain and I Love Rich at Underground Lounge, 952 W. Newport (at Clark).
It’s a little difficult to park over in Lakeview, so make sure you feed your meter and don’t go home with a real Chicago parking ticket.
I’ve gotten notice from the City of Chicago that they will now boot my vehicle because I have 11 tickets dating back to 1991.
I am in bankruptcy and foreclosure and cannot afford to pay the tickets even on their “Hardship Program”. What about parking in garages and parking lots and never on the street? Will that work? What can I do? Please help?
My first advice would be to talk to your bankruptcy attorney and see what they can do for you. I’m not an attorney and I’m not sure if even a bankruptcy can discharge a parking ticket from your debts. But it would be worth at least a phone call with your attorney to see if there are any options open to you.
Your strategy of only parking on private property or in private parking lots will work as the city cannot boot on private property or outside the city limits. But one slip up and you’re screwed.
One strategy would be if you’re married, to “sell” the car to your husband or perhaps to a close trusted relative. Sell it for $1 and transfer the title. The new “owner” will get a fresh plate that is not on the boot
Of course, you will be the only person driving your husband’s or family member’s car, but that car won’t be boot eligible.
The thing you have to really be worried about is having your driver’s license suspended. If you have 10 unpaid tickets or more, the city can move to have the Secretary of State suspend your driver’s license.
I would advise paying the least costly two tickets ASAP! No kidding. Do it today. With only 9 tickets on your record, your driver’s license remains intact.
Sorry about all your troubles. It’s rough out there. I’ll keep a prayer for you.
Good luck. Things will get better.
The Parking Ticket Geek
Last Sunday I parked in a metered spot on Winthrop just south of Bryn Mawr. The rate was listed as $1.00/hr.
I tried to pay for my time with quarters, but the machine just dumped them in the coin return, so I tried to use a debit card.
The first time, I punched the $1 button once, and the $.25 button twice. The meter said I had entered $15.00, so I canceled the transaction and tried again, this time punching the $.25 button 6 times. Again the meter said I had entered $15. I figured I was just reading the display wrong, and completed the transaction.
The receipt showed a $15.00 payment, and gave me an expiration time 1 1/2 hours from the time of purchase. When I checked my bank account the next day it listed a transaction of $15.00 to LAZ Parking.
I called the phone number listed on the receipt, and was told that they had no mechanism for issuing refunds for overcharges, and that I would have to dispute the charge with my credit card company.
I then called 311 to register a complaint, and was told that I would have to contact LAZ, and that the city had no involvement in parking meter disputes.
I found a number online for City of Chicago “Parking meter complaints” (312) 742-6998, and when I called I got an answering machine asking me to leave a message, which I did.
I am curious if you have had other reports of this kind of overcharge, and what advice you have on how to deal with this situation when it occurs.
Thanks for your time,
That’s a pretty crazy story. What the hell! That’s one screwed up parking meter pay box.
It seems like it’s charging $10 per hour instead of $1 per hour. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking on Chicago Parking Meter LLC’s part.
But, seriously, please, PLEASE, at the very least, dispute the charge with your credit card company.
Considering you called pretty much every number you could possibly call, I think you did a great job of trying to cover your bases.
The only other thing I would have advised would to have called the Chicago Parking Meters helpline (877-242-7901) at the time of the incident to report the broken meter.
Obviously, it’s malfunctioning. In fact, by a factor of 10.
In general, I think CPM/LAZ’s “No Refund” policy is a load of crap.
I understand they need to be careful of scumbag scam artists trying to rip them off. And that’s a legitimate and understandable concern for any business.
However, in your case, they can obviously view the transaction on the machine and on their merchant account statement.
The company needs to figure out a way refund money for legitimate problems quickly, instead of putting the entire burden on the motorist and making them jump through hoops to dispute a charge.
Look, if you want, amongst the piles of crap on my desk, somewhere I have phone numbers and e-mail addresses for all of CPM and LAZ’s upper level muckety-mucks. Do you want me to send you that info?
Maybe if the top level people start getting an earful from people just trying to get a refund for legit issues with their parking meters, perhaps they’ll change their policy.
Keep us posted Matt.
I’m not a Chicagoan (yet), but I’ve always wondered about this.
Suppose you return to your car just as a ticket-writer is pulling out their trusty Book of Tears. If you get into your car and drive off before they have a chance to write the citation, can you get in trouble?
Would the situation be different if the person in question was a sworn officer and not just a “meter maid”?
Here’s the thing.
It may depend on what part of the ticket writing process the ticket writer is in, if and when you pull off.
If the ticket writer just whipped out their ticket book, or just started up their handheld computer, you may avoid a ticket altogether. Operative word is “may.”
But, more likely than not, if they’ve already started filling out the ticket or have completed issuing the ticket and you pull away before they hand it to you or slap it on your vehicle, don’t worry, you’ll still get the ticket. The ticket will come in the form of a “Notice of Violation” via the mail. They’ll even make notes on the ticket that you pulled away.
As long as they have your license plate, they know where you live.
In either situation, you won’t get in any additional trouble for doing that.
So, while it would be really cool if it were as easy to avoid a ticket by just burning rubber and pulling away from Boss Hogg ala’ an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard. But don’t assume you’ve just slipped through the clutches of the city–because you haven’t.
I tried that once 20 years ago when junkies outnumbered yuppies in Wicker Park, but it was no dice even then.
BTW: We don’t call Parking Enforcement Aides “meter maids” anymore. At least not here. And in fact, anyone from the city writing parking tickets IS a sworn officer.
Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a semi-regular parking ticket advice column.
If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek with your query at: email@example.com
GEEK EDITOR’S NOTE: From time to time, we like to share the thoughts of other people than ourselves, who may have an opinion on a certain subject.
Today we spotlight a frequent contributor of comments to this website, John Adams.
Adams, like his founding father namesake, has strong views on freedom, liberty, taxation and parking issues in Chicago.
While we don’t always agree on the finer points, our fundamental views are similar. However, despite any differences we have, one can never deny Mr. Adams’ passion and eloquence in his writing.
Parking Ticket Is Just Another Way To Say ‘Tax’
By John Adams
Ticket writing is not about justice. It is not about safety. It is not about the public good. It is not about improvements to roadways.
Ticket writing is about revenue. Pure and simple. It is a tax, and a heavy heavy tax at that.
The same way that City Stickers are taxes. (Does anyone know, is there any other city that requires City Stickers for vehicles?)
The same way that Red Light Cameras are taxes.
These taxes are a heavy burden to citizens of this city. These taxes pose as Laws and Regulations for the good and safety of the general public. And many people fall for the lie.
But these taxes are not about the good of the citizens. They are about revenue.
And I don’t think anyone should pay these taxes.
And then, when the City sees that Parking Tickets are a fruitless effort to raise revenue, the laws can then be easily changed to favor taxpayers like you and me.
Street Cleaning signs can be removed, because we know that Street Cleaning is also about revenue. (Street Cleaning on HALF the streets on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of the month? Are you kidding me? WHERE ARE WE SUPPOSED TO PARK? AND WHY IS IT THAT SOMETIMES THE STEET CLEANER DOESN’T EVEN BOTHER TO CLEAN THOSE STREETS?)
So called “Loading Zones” (another was just put up in my neighborhood that took yet another 2 parking spots away) could be layed out into something resembling some kind of order and sense, and maybe even for some kind of actual loading.
So called “Snow Routes” which seem to serve very little purpose other than to be one more sticky, tricky place to park in the winter, if it snows more than 2 inches, and sometimes even if it doesn’t!
Meters and payboxes can become a thing of the past, though a very dark spot on our City’s (and Nation’s) history.
Meter readers can get jobs doing something else. That will save the city some money.
Traffic court judges will have more time for viable court issues, instead of these circus issues like parking tickets.
Police will be able to focus on fighting crime, instead of fighting parking.
The Meters, Denver Boots, and all the illegitimate “No Parking Signs” can be taken to the scrapyard, providing additional revenue for the city.
The Absence of Parking Tickets will save countless trees from destruction, and keep our city cleaner by reducing litter from tickets blown off the windshields. The money saved by not having these printed up can go to fill the revenue gap.
Paper work will be reduced, saving more trees, more time, more money.
It will save gas, as people won’t drive around for hours looking for parking, because bogus loading zones will be reduced, bogus handicapped zones will be reduced, bogus “No Parking from here to curb” will be reduced, and the fear of parking on a snow route in the winter when there is a 10% chance of snow will be reduced.
The Pay Boxes can be turned into lemonade machines in the summer, and hot chocolate machines in the winter, powered by that nifty little solar panel on top.
Do I need to go on?
I’m fed up.
CONTRIBUTE YOUR THOUGHTS: This website encourages readers to contribute articles or guest columns. In fact, we will publish almost any contribution from any person with any point of view, pro or con, as long as it relates to parking, parking tickets, red light cameras and other related topics in the greater Chicagoland area.
Please send your articles, rants, commentary, photos, etc. to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter is, sadly, coming soon.
Mayor Daley, after getting his proverbial butt spanked last year for cutbacks to snow removal because of budget deficits.
Remember? Side streets weren’t getting plowed. Chicagoans nearly revolted.
This year the city is doing two things.
First, the city is willing to pay overtime to snowplow drivers this year, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Not only that, but all snowplows are going to be outfit with GPS units and Chicago’s’ vast network of cameras will be used to efficiently route snow trucks according to a piece on the NBC Chicago website. This technology will allow Streets & Sanitation to drastically cut supervisory staff because the city can remotely follow snowplow trucks and hopefully improve the efficiency of snowplow deployment.
I agree with Mayor Daley. Let’s pray for a mild winter.
Got a tip from Mike F. with this great photo attached.
“Hey Geek how many tickets does it take to get the boot?,” asked Mike F. “Saw this auto today on Leavitt just south of Madison. Thought you might find this photo interesting/funny. Would the meter maids really just keep giving this auto tickets?”
Holy cow! I just had to check it out.
As luck would have it, I had to be down on South Ashland Ave. later in the day, plus I desperately wanted to check out that new controversial hotdog joint, Felony Franks which is right around the corner from where this car was supposed to be.
Hot dog. Fries. Gulp. Yum!
I then drove, literally around the corner and BAM! There it was, like Ahab’s white whale.
Amazing really. The driver’s side windows were literally covered with a forest of bright orange tickets.
Nearly in shock by all the damn tickets on this poor, neglected Ford Taurus, I took a few of my own photos.
Then I tried to count all of them. It took me three times to get the number right because there were tickets everywhere–the windshield, the driver’s side of the car and on the street around the vehicle.
I counted 39 physical tickets, but remnants of at least another four for a total of 43.
Now that has to be some sort of record, right?
Even though there was a tow notice on the vehicle, why hasn’t this car been towed by now? It’s obviously been sitting abandoned for weeks. My guess someone in Streets & Sanitation really dropped the ball on this one.
Let me give you a tip Streets & San, it’s the car covered with orange parking tickets.
In the meantime, hopefully these photos puts your own parking ticket troubles into perspective.
Thanks again to Mike F. for the tip.
But they did some GREAT research, tracked down the owner and tried to dig a bit deeper into the story. Pretty cool piece. Check out the video of the story.
UPDATE #2: Heh, heh. The CBS 2 story got the name of the owner and I had the license plate number. With that info I was able to check the Dept. of Revenue ticket search webpage.
74 tickets going all the way back to the middle of the summer. That car has been sitting their a long time.
When I get a chance I’m going to add up all the fines.
Check it out for yourself. Go to the City of Chicago Department of Revenue Ticket Search Webpage.
Input the plate number ( H273568 ) and the owner’s last name ( Tate ), and check it out yourself. It’s fun!
Commenter, Joe says the fine total for the 74 tickets is $5725.
Although, ChicagoPA comes up with these numbers:
$7,010 in fines.
3 Notice of Seizure
9 Notice of Final Determination
27 Notice of Determination
18 Notice of Violation
17 Remains Due
1 Park/Stand in Crosswalk
2 Street Cleaning
27 Rear/Front Plate Required
27 No City Sticker
17 Abandoned Vehicle
Thanks to all those vets out there.
Thank you for doing the dirty work for the rest of us to insure the freedoms we have.
My family and I appreciate it
Of course, it’s not a meter holiday. There are no meter holidays anymore.
However, enforcement is low to non-existent as PEAs and booters (I think), because they are city employees, are off for the day.
But, SERCO is still on the job, so you may want to still feed your meter.
God bless America.
GEEK EDITOR NOTE: If this post seems longer all of a sudden, it’s not your imagination. I somehow clipped a portion of the original post. Sorry for any confusion. DUH!
But now, according to Mick Dumke’s Clout City piece over at the Reader’s website, Active Trans has done a complete and jaw dropping change of heart on the issue.
According to Active Trans’ executive director Rob Sadowksy, it seems the group and the administration seemed to have resolved their “differences” and have kissed and made up. But from Dumke’s piece, the whiplash inducing 180 seems more like Active Trans is kissing Daley’s butt.
The incredible degree of this change of heart is just breathtaking, because now Daley was inducted into the group’s Hall of Fame last night, scrubbed the PDF version of their initial report from their website, and will issue a new glowing report on the parking meter lease deal very soon.
Baffling really. Or maybe not.
I’m sending Dumke’s report to the Guinness World Record people and see where this amazing flip flop ranks. It’s gotta be in the top 5.
Read Mick Dumke’s hilarious and head scratching inducing piece, “The Active Transportation Aliance Does an About-Face on the Parking Meter Deal“.