Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Recently the rates on Chicago’s parking meters were jacked up and new meters were installed where previously there had been none. Most citizens are not pleased with this exciting new development and some of the more cynical residents of this great city suspect that there must be secret plans to funnel the anticipated increased revenue into an Olympics-related slush fund.

Over the last 20 years, finding free, legal parking in Chicago has gradually become akin to locating a website without pop-up ads. Since permit parking zones were first instituted decades ago, they have become a cancer, metastasizing throughout Chicago's neighborhoods. This writer has no issue with such zones, as long as 1) there is a preponderance of senior citizens and/or handicapped individuals who need to park close to their homes and 2) more than three quarters of the housing stock is apartment buildings without garages. However, you can now find permit parking on streets occupied by mainly single-family homes with garages. Don’t whine that restricted parking is needed because there’s shopping nearby, or a train station, or a Dairy Queen. These permit parking zones are not necessary. The aldermen simper, “But more than 50% of our residents want them.” Aldermen – and women – get a clue. If more than 50% of your children asked to be served ice cream for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, would you cede to their wishes? Sometimes you have to be smarter than your constituents and this is one of those times. Using garages for the purpose for which they were originally designed will solve the problem of residents not being able to find parking. Not meaning to insinuate that many garages are so full of crap that getting a car in there is harder than pulling a camel through the eye of a needle, of course.

That is my rant about permit parking, and it may be recycled later in this blog. For now, I would like to offer a nightmarish scenario as to where Chicago seems to be headed, getting-around-wise.

Now that LAZ Parking has done such a brilliant job of taking over our parking meters, let’s figure out some other ways to inconvenience and stealth-tax our drivers. How about installing 24-hour meters on the residential side streets, in the alleys and on the shoulders of the expressways. Those neighborhoods that are too blighted to merit meters (and where the installers would likely get mugged trying) can be permit parking only. Make sure that there is a hefty fee for the yearly – make that monthly – permit that the residents can’t afford.

Now that all streets are either metered or permit, let’s tackle the private garages. To enter his or her garage, an owner will be required to deposit a $10 bill, which will then be whisked into a secret Olympics 2016 fund. To exit the garage, come up with another $10. Stopping with drivers is for sissies. To make sure as many people are inconvenienced as possible, slash service on the CTA. Cut bus routes and hours of operation, and don’t forget to raise fares. To obtain one of those convenient “Chicago Cards”, require citizens to submit their Social Security Numbers and all bank/brokerage/credit card account info. Then eliminate payment by cash or regular fare card.

Let’s start licensing bike riders. The fees from all those licenses will help fund a new Olympic event, the “pothole slalom” and before you can say “Lance Armstrong” it’ll cost you to get around by bike. Finally, don’t spare the pedestrians. Set up a toll booth at every intersection. To cross any street, charge a toll of $5 per leg. To show that this is really a compassionate city, give any amputees a 5% discount, but make it exact change only, otherwise no deal.

If considering the above makes you crave copious quantities of alcohol, look on the bright side. Thousands of jobs in surveillance, security and law enforcement will be created. And won't it impress the Olympic Committee to be able to claim that our unemployment rate has gone from 10% to less than 3%?


Brian said...

I agree with you about 95%. However, I do feel like bicyclists need to be licensed. Have you seen some of these people riding their bikes down busy streets? They apparently assume the traffic light doesn't apply to them, and I've seen many blow through an intersection. Same with stop signs. But yet, they want to cry victim when a bicyclist gets killed when they're t-boned at an intersection that they just blew the light. I say hold them to the same standards as car/truck drivers. The state should require a special drivers license endorsement (like motorcyclists do), require plates for bicycles (this would help curb bicycle theft, or at least track it a little better), and metered bike racks (well, if the drivers have to pay to park, why shouldn't bicyclists?).

Psychic Accordionist said...

I agree with you about 25%. I have seen bikers travel blithely through red lights, and I have seen bikers on cell phones and with ear buds. In my opinion, that's an invitation to "hit me, please". I myself never talk on my cell or use my i-pod when biking, simply because in a bike vs. car competition, the car wins. Bikers need to be alert because the difference between a squished skull and an intact one could be about 3 seconds.

I don't think bikers should have to pay to park. They are not the ones polluting the air with their gas guzzling and a bike takes up less space than a car. Give them a break in this area, and it might even convince more people to bike rather than drive.

Regarding licensing, I'm on the fence. One of my pet peeves is the explosion of surveillance tactics since 9/11. It's going to get worse before it gets better. I have a feeling that bikers won't be the only ones licensed; anyone with feet will need to license their legs.

Anonymous said...


On Bikes.....agree 100%
On RPP Zones...you're missing the boat.

RPP zones are requested by a majority petition of the residents of an area/street. Doesn't matter if they have a garage or not...its based off of the complaints that are levied about parking congestion.

Wrightwood At Clark St on the North side is a great example of a street that Needs RPP Anytime or 6pm-9:30am

Dunley's Grill on that corner has a Valet.....the Valet takes up the spaces with cars...people park to go to work....closet El is 1 mile away on Fullerton @ Sheffield. 1 Apt building on that street has on property parking.......for 150 a month Plus Rent or 200 a month for non-Renters.

We are surrounded by 143 zones that are 6am to 9:30am or 6pm-12am or even 6pm-6am.

And the cars with 143 are also taking slots on the streets that don't require a permit to park.

Psychic Accordionist said...

I respectfully disagree about missing the boat on RPP zones. The neighborhood you are referring to does deserve permit parking because it is very congested. But what about the neighborhood around Belmont and Austin (I believe it's the 6200 block of W. Roscoe) where there are single family bungalows, each with a garage, the streets are practically empty all day and there is an RPP zone? This is what I was referring to.

All I can say is that the APPEARANCE in such areas is that spoiled residents don't want outsiders in their 'hood. So they went to the alderperson and threw down a tantrum. Kind of like 4 out of 5 kids saying they want Hershey bars for breakfast, the parental units claiming "Majority rule" and the one kid who wants oatmeal has to eat a Hershey bar too. This is where the aldermen have to be wiser than the residents and use the short word, "NO."