Will Parking Meters be the Next Snow….


Will Parking Meters be the Next Snow….

This quote was from a column in the Chicago Sun Times railing on the privatization of parking meters in Chicago. The turnover is, it appears, not exactly a textbook case for how this should be done, but the price hikes seem to be working, kinda. Read about the rage in Chicago here,
here, and here. The citizens of the windy city are not happy campers.

As we reported earlier, part of the privatization process was a substantial increase in parking fees. When I was in Chicago week before last, I noted that there was plenty of parking space on street, but also that my meter was full of quarters and I couldn't insert a coin. Knowing that 90% of all tickets don't get written, I went "bare" and didn't get a ticket. But I digress.

Citizens are screaming about a number of things. First – the signage on the meters seems inconsistent. Second the meters require tons of quarters to get a bit of time. Third, with all the confusion, people are getting tickets right and left. Fourth, like me, many find meters full of quarters, Fifth, many meters are broken, and Sixth, complaints are going unanswered.

Wow – Some people think that the parking space glut is due to a boycott. In reality it's due to the fact that people will pay less to park in local garages than pay the high rates on street. However, the rates may be a tad too high. If there is more than one space per block face open, then that means that the rates are set too high and need to be adjusted down (Shoup 101).The operator needs the flexibility to raise and low rates as needed to keep the requisite space available on street. They could vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, and from day or day. (Less expensive on weekends, or after 10PM or whatever.

Prior planning prevents…etc I assumed that the new parking company, Morgan Stanley/Laz, would raise the rates slowly, area by area, as they replaced the parking meters with equipment or systems that take credit cards and or cash. However they seemed to have put the increased rates into effect all at once. Hence the problems with meters being full and irate and confused citizens. Kachow.

It also seems that with all the trouble with the transition, a good policy would have been to have a moratorium on citations, until all the systems were in place, everything checked out, and people were used to the new program. I think that this could have been done without telling anyone, just have the ticket writers give warnings, and if a person received two or three warnings, turn the last one into a ticket.

But then, I'm sitting in my office in Los Angeles, and not on the front lines in Chicago. Mayor Daley is tough and says that Laz can withstand the complaints that will soon drop off. He hopes.

That brings us the headline above. In 1979 then Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic lost a squeaker election to Jane Byrne after three major snowstorms paralyzed the city and Bilandic was seen as ineffective in clearing the streets. Will parking be Mayor Daley's snowstorm?


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John Van Horn

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