There will be an end to the parking perplexities in Chicago someday, but in the meantime, help is on the way.
LAZ Parking, the company that has leased the city's parking meters for the next 75 years for $1.15 billion, is stepping up to try to make the transition less painful for area motorists.
"They're not giving the money back to the city and no, they're not going to lower their rates," the Chicagoist says.
No, LAZ is, instead, introducing the "Green Teams," named for the spanking new T-shirts the members will wear as they roam the streets of Chicago's neighborhoods offering their assistance.
"Dozens of newly-hired employees -- all wearing green T-shirts, many of them college students" will be descending on the city's streets where LAZ has installed pay-and-display boxes, the Sun-Times reported.
Avis LaVelle, a spokeswoman for Chicago Parking Meters LLC, said the green invasion was planned long before the public relations nightmare caused by broken, overstuffed and improperly calibrated meters that over-charged motorists.
"This is not something they just started," said Avis LaVelle, a spokeswoman for Chicago Parking Meters LLC. "They've been out there since the installation of the boxes began trying to help people understand how to use the boxes and make it a more customer-friendly transition. Customer services is a core value for this company," said LaVelle, a former mayoral press secretary.
"They go where the new installations are -- and where people are likely to be using the boxes and may not be familiar on how to use them."
So far, the company has installed about a third of the 3,000 pay-and-display boxes.
The leasing of the city's parking meters has been a hot spot for Mayor Daley from the get-go. It started with complaints from citizens, parkers who found themselves unable to make the required payments due to broken or over-filled parking meters. The outcry peaked with an embarrassing statement from the city inspector general David Hoffman, a Daley appointee.
Hoffman "joined the chorus slamming the ... parking meter lease agreement as a loser for taxpayers," according to the Chicago Reader's "The Parking Meter Fiasco: Part III," just published today. Hoffman said the "hasty" deal the city signed with LAZ cost taxpayers at least $1 billion.
Part III of the Reader's series looks at who came out as the winners in the deal.