Parking Meter Rates Jump January 1st

$5 Per Hour Downtown Rates Highest In Nation

It’s almost that time of the year again.

No, not Christmas or New Year’s, but parking meter rate increase season.

It was three years ago this month when Mayor Daley and his cohorts in the city council pushed through the Chicago parking meter lease deal.

One of the more onerous results of the 75-year deal was an initial five years of steep meter rate price increases.

On January 1st, parking meter rates will rise for the third of the five initial years.

Downtown, meter rates will jump $0.75 from $4.25 per hour to $5.00 an hour–giving Chicago the distinction of having the highest downtown parking meter rates in the nation.

New York, and Los Angeles, while both larger than Chicago, have lower downtown rates than the Windy City. New York’s highest rate is currently $3.75 an hour, while LA tops out at $4 per hour downtown.

In areas adjacent to the Loop (River North, Gold Coast, parts of Lincoln Park, Near North) rates will go up $0.50 per hour from $2.50 to $3.00 per hour.

Meter rates in all other outlying neighborhoods will increase just $0.25 from $1.25 per hour to $1.50 per hour.

While the rate increase is a 17% jump downtown and 20% everywhere else, it’s a 600% increase over the past three years at the majority of metered spaces, which used to be a paltry $0.25 per hour.

“It’s the most frustrating thing about this whole thing,” said Logan Square resident Emma Nolley feeding a paybox while being asked about the rate increases. “It’s out of control. Rates keep on rising, the ticketing hasn’t decreased, people are not driving less like they thought. It’s frustrating and there’s nothing we can do.”

“There’s another price increase?” exclaimed another woman who stormed off in anger before we could get her name. “Oh my God! I don’t believe it! I’m moving out of Chicago. It’s gotten too expensive to live here.”

Aimee Zander, Executive Director of the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce was also unaware of the rate bump.

“No, I was not aware of that–a quarter an hour?” said Zander. “Crazy.”

The West Ridge chamber represents businesses centered around Devon and Western and is located in the 50th ward. An area with a heavy concentration of ethnic businesses primarily catering to a virtual United Nations of recent and first generation immigrants.

“I know for a fact our business owners are going to flip out,” says Zander. “I bet nobody knows about this. Daily I get complaints about the meter rates. They’re furious because we don’t have any options where to park like public garages or lots. People are coming less frequently. You can tell by the number of cars on the street–less people are coming.”

But Gus Isacson, Executive Director of the Central Lakeview Merchants Association shrugs off the idea that extra quarter an hour is going to effect business for retailers in his part of the city.

“They’re (business owners) are not concerned about it,” said Isacson. “It’s not the price it’s the inconvenience of going to the (pay) box that bothers everyone.”

While the rate increases officially go into effect New Year’s Day, most motorists will not see these increases immediately. Each of of the over 4000 meter pay boxes will have to have their rates manually increased and the signs reflecting the pricing will have to be changed on each box. Same goes for the approximately 600 traditional single head meters which remain on city streets.

Although spokesmen for Chicago Parking Meters, LLC did not return e-mails with questions regarding the time line for this year’s rate changeover, last year it took four to six weeks to complete the process city wide.

While meter rates will increase $0.75 per hour downtown, $0.50 just outside downtown and a quarter everywhere else every January 1st through 2013, meter rates could still continue to increase per the meter lease. Future rate increases would be tied to cost of living increases.

“It could go up every year for the next 72 years,” says 32nd ward alderman Scott Waguespack, the most vocal opponent of the meter lease agreement. “The parking meter lease deal was the harbinger of the fiscal stability of the city and the parking meter rate increases are just a constant reminder of the situation were in right now.”

32 Responses to Parking Meter Rates Jump January 1st

  1. Anonymous says:

    At $5/hour, that’s closing on the minimum wage. It shows just how worthless the ruling class think of people. They literally value parking meters over people. If the GOP had their way, you’d be better off being a parking meter than a person!

  2. “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
    – Proverbs
    Source: Proverbs 22:7 (KJV)

  3. DoR employee says:

    Just a reminder that City Hall Controls the Meter Rates and has the ability to Raise or Lower them at will.

  4. OIFVet says:

    “He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty.” Proverbs 22:16

    “Truly, I say unto you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:23

  5. Winky says:

    Yo Anonymous, last time I checked, there hasn’t been a GOP member in charge of City Hall since the 1920′s. You can’t blame the meter fiasco on Busch or the GOP.

    “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” Matthew 22:21

  6. Anonymous says:

    You’re right about city government, Winky. What I meant was that if the GOP had their way, there would be no minimum wage at the federal level, resulting in a massive wage drop – making it better to be a parking meter than being a worker.

  7. Dennis says:

    It did save the city from bankruptcy. it is an annoyance but after federal aid and other revenues plummeted Mayor Daley had to look for some way to meet obligations (the largest of which are pensions and we can’t take those away, really.) It is an annoyance but it is still cheaper than a parking garage.

    And have you tried parking in Manhattan lately? We want to be a big time city, but still get the perks of life in a small Midwestern town. Can’t have it both ways.

  8. Mike B. says:

    Putting the lease aside (and it’s a cruel joke, of course), the general notion of higher meter rates is not a bad idea, especially in the Loop. Parking meter rates should be optimally priced so that there are about two or three spaces available per block. The fact that this is not true in the Loop (or in many parts of Manhattan and downtown L.A.) provides an argument that those rates are too low.

    What is ridiculous is the lack of thought put into rates in the outlying neighborhoods. In busy ‘hoods, like Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville, the rates should be much higher to get better parking turnover. Meanwhile, the rates in less busy and/or less affluent neighborhoods should be markedly lower. I live in Albany Park and the number of empty meters on Lawrence Avenue during shopping hours, compared to the pre-increase days, illustrates non-optimal pricing.

    We’re likely stuck with the lease, but the terms on rates should be renegotiated to achieve practical goals which should could result in better revenues for the lessors.

  9. guinnessman says:

    This might be the 3 of 5 planned increases, but after that the rates will be index to inflation. By the end, we could see rates north of $20 an hour. And can we start referencing them as Daley Machines instead of pay boxes.

  10. [...] Beginning Jan. 1, rates in the Loop go from $4.25 to $5 an hour, which one watchdog website calls the highest rate in the nation. [...]

  11. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Mike B.,

    So true. I’ve been pushing market based pricing structure for years.

    Why does someone parking in Lakeview pay the same as someone parking in Albany Park?

    Look at the difference in the cost of buying a home or renting an apartment in both neighborhoods.

    Completely different. But the meter rates are the same.

    This makes no sense. The rate structure should be much more flexible.

    Good point Mike B.

  12. MrG says:

    “Just a reminder that City Hall Controls the Meter Rates and has the ability to Raise or Lower them at will.”

    Um…not any more, ‘DoR employee.’ The meters have been privatized. Chicago no longer has any say on what the rates will be.

  13. reilly3 says:

    @Mike B., I live near there, too, and instead of parking on the street, I’m usually able to find a spot on a sidestreet (most residential streets around there aren’t permit), and I imagine parking availability is similar in most outer-ring neighborhoods. They can charge all they want, but the demand just isn’t there for metered parking and the arterial streets won’t generate much revenue unless the rates are stabilized or lowered.

  14. Jeff says:

    Mike B,

    What you’re saying makes intuitive sense, and you can bet that the lessees know damn well they could make a higher overall profit, in the short term, if they lowered rates in the outlying areas. I think what they’re trying to do instead is condition people to high rates. They’re willing to accept tons of empty spaces now at $1.50/hour, if it means that in a few years (when those areas inevitably become more congested), people will be accustomed to the $1.50/hour rate. That’s my theory, anyway.

  15. DoR employee says:


    City Hall wouldn’t have needed to find a budgetary stop gap fund if City Hall was actually working for the best interests of the city and not the Private Pocket books of the “connected elite”.

    Hired Trucks scandal comes to mind for example.

    The Fed Investigation of McPier.

    Mike is right on target.

    If it wasn’t for the Lease…would anyone really care that the meter rates were going up?

    Yes, the rate increase is a 17% jump downtown and 20% everywhere else.

    And Yes; it’s a 600% increase over the past three years at the majority of metered spaces, which used to be a paltry $0.25 per hour.

    But if CPM wasn’t in the picture, would anyone begrudge the city in it’s attempt to raise revenue for the budget?

  16. Ross G says:

    This is a great thing that Chicago is taking the lead on making the parking rate in downtown closer to market value, ahead of NYC & LA. This is going to prove to be an experiment where we will see traffic improvements because people are not circling around looking for underpriced parking. It may not happen with this next increase, perhaps at the end of the 5 year increase schedule.

    I agree with Mike B, parking in other neighborhoods should be a bit more flexible. Wrigleyville should be closer to downtown rates, as parking there does not turn over fast enough.

  17. Jake says:

    If you all have huge problems with it, use a parking garages or public transit. I live downtown and I have to deal with parking everyday; I’m not complaining. Illinois is broke, so if they can make money this way, let ‘em, no one is forcing you to park on the street, that’s your choice.

    And quoting proverbs and the like is really quite meaningless. If you cant say it well yourself, don’t say it at all.

  18. Les says:

    The rates of meters I can handle but not the rates we now pay for borrowing because Daley screwed us on the city bond ratings. Meters went up but the real cost is 10,000 times higher thanks to all the Daley lovers.

  19. Winky says:


    What does the meter lease say about CPM not charging the maximum allowed? Do they have some wiggle room or does the lease not allow it? It seems to me that at some point it would benefit CPM to have a lot of cars parking for less money than just a handful of cars at the highest price possible. Unless there’s something in the fine print that prevents them from doing this, it’s just an awful business decision. Mc Donald’s may not charge a lot for their hamburgers but they sell a hell of a lot of them.

  20. patg says:

    Just remember that CPM is really Morgan Stanley.

  21. beez says:

    I noticed a small blue LAZ Parking stub with a 6 digit number and a time and date printed on it, not a parking ticket but are they going to start strictly enforcing 2 HR max rules now? I park in river north area and this has never been a problem, anyone else notice this?

  22. ritgar80 says:

    Who drives downtown anymore? I won’t even shop there due to the taxes.

  23. WestLooper says:

    Why shouldn’t parking meter rates reflect market prices? I don’t drive to work, so why should my tax dollars subsidize parking for everyone else. I am glad the rates go up, particularly since it discourages driving.

    Also, has anyone notice that parking is easier to find now?

  24. ejhickey says:

    Question: All of this new increase in parking fees will go directly to the City of Chicago and help plug our budget deficit. right? The new , higher fees could not possibly be going to the private company that owns the meters and which is owned by MorgueOn Stanley Bank and the Kingdom of Abu Dhabi, could it? I mean that would too bizarre to think that every time a person feeds one of these meters the money goes to these private owners, NOT the City.

  25. DoR employee says:

    MrG; I’d suggest that you check out the Municipal Code book at your local Aldercreatures Office.

    From the Geeks Own Blogsite:

    It was the city council that passed the ordinance that spelled out the specifics of the meter rate increases. CPM and LAZ don’t control the rates. The city still controls parking meter rates. They could change them back to 25 cents per hour if they wanted to. Of course there would be a severe penalty but that’s besides the point.

    Read more:

  26. ChicagoSuz says:

    I know of a company that used to do 5-6 weekend seminars a year here… 100-150 people from all over the world! Most of them stayed in downtown hotels, ate at downtown restaurants, brought in a LOT of money!! They now do them in Nashville… BECAUSE OF THE PARKING!!

    My daughter & her boyfriend moved to Madison… BECAUSE OF THE PARKING!!

    This was very short-sighted. Raising the prices will only make it worse!!

  27. [...] officially, Chicago’s increased parking meter rates kicked in at midnight New Year’s Day, it could take four or more weeks for all of Chicago’s 36,000 parking meters to be converted [...]

  28. Anonymous says:

    I almost never shop downtown, and if I do, I use the CTA to avoid having to park. As far as taxes, that’s what DuPage is for! I go on DuPage missions on a regular basis to get cigarettes, booze, and a tankful of gas. With those items, you can save BIG bucks by going on a DuPage shot.

  29. Tracy Meredith says:

    I just parked downtown this a.m. – Still a rat race to find a spot! Luckily found one – paid $7 for 1 hr 16mins!!! Got a tix for being 5 mins late! So I just paid $57 to park for 1hr – 20 mins!!!

    Can you believe it???

  30. [...] only does Chicago have the highest downtown parking meter rates in the nation, the highest gas prices in the country and can brag it’s the red light camera capital of the [...]

  31. [...] Beach, Florida now boasts $5 per hour parking meter rates which ties Chicago’s downtown rates for the  honor of having the  country’s most expensive parking [...]

  32. [...] We could purchase about 249,000 bike racks for city sidewalks. If you wanted to distribute the money directly to citizens, they could buy nearly 15 million hours of parking meter time downtown. [...]

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