High Parking Meter Prices Hurting Little Village Businesses
The Little Village neighborhood is experiencing some tough times.
A recent Sun-Times story chronicles the plight of business owners on West 26th Street. Many business are failing, some buildings going into foreclosure and several business owners are planning on moving elsewhere.
While current economic conditions have certainly had an effect on the overall economic health of the neighborhood, many owners place at least part of the blame on what they say are expensive and unaffordable parking meter rates.
By early next year she wants to move her business to Oak Park or Forest Park, where parking is free or at least cheaper, she said.
Castaneda, 45, is furious with the parking situation on 26th Street. Since the city sold its meters to Chicago Parking Meters LLC four years ago, the cost of hourly parking has skyrocketed. Visitors can’t get by for 25 cents unless they stay only 10 minutes.
Parking rates jumped 500% in the first 12 months of the city’s parking meter lease deal, and has risen from 25 cents an hour in 2008, to $1.75 an hour now. The infamous meter deal gave control of the city’s metered parking system to Morgan Stanley controlled Chicago Parking Meters, LLC for $1.16 billion for a 75-year lease.
Perhaps, more interestingly, there’s a cultural difference in how Spanish speaking residents interact with parking meters. Since many do not have debit or credit cards, they have to rely on large volumes of coins to park there and it’s having an impact according to one business owner.
To park you must use coins or credit cards, but credit cards aren’t widely embraced by Latinos, Castaneda noted. It’s common for people to enter stores looking for change because the machines don’t accept dollars. Meter attendants weren’t so vigilant in the past, according to Castaneda. “Now they hunt us down.”
Customers can’t run in for a quick pickup without getting a $50 ticket. Making matters worse, the pay-to-park machines aren’t user-friendly for non-English speakers, Castaneda and the Pedrozas told me.
The parking mess is in part why Fabio Campo took his business, Champion DJ Promotions, from 26th and Central Park to West Cermak Road in Cicero.
Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times full report, “Business owners struggle on 26th Street.”