New Year’s Day is a special holiday for Chicago Parking LLC: It’s apparently the day the company gets to celebrate squeezing yet more money out of the motorists of Chicago.
For the fourth year in a row, the company is raising rates on parking meters. An hour that cost 25 cents before the city sold the parking concession for $1.15 billion in 2008 will now cost $2. Parking in the Loop will cost $6.50 an hour.
Given that it signed a 75-year lease, and that parking rates will be indexed to inflation beginning in 2014, Chicago Parking LLC has 71 more New Year’s Days to celebrate.
However, we drivers can make New Year’s Day a holiday, too: a holiday from parking. What if, from midnight on Jan. 1 to midnight on Jan. 2, we made an effort not to park in any space covered by a meter.
This should be the easiest day of the year not to park. For one thing, nobody should be driving on New Year’s Eve, the drunkest night of the year. Even if you’re not drinking and driving, someone else might be, so you want to stay off the roads. The CTA is offering rides for a penny from 10 p.m. on Dec. 31 until 4 a.m. on Jan. 1. That’s another incentive not to drive. Most of us will have the day off on the 1st, so there’s no reason not to stay inside and watch football games. If you have to make a beer run, go to a 7-Eleven or supermarket with free parking.
I’ll be celebrating No Parking Day, in part because I’m still miffed that I had to pay $3.50 to park on Christmas. That was the price of visiting friends in Albany Park. How greedy is it to keep the meters running on Christmas? If I visit friends on New Year’s, I’ll make sure they live in the suburbs.