When heavy snow falls, will parking enforcement brush it away to check for a parking receipt?
By now, everyone knows that the city's least popular idea since the short-lived southeast side airport was the decision to sell the rights to street parking to a private vendor.
That company, LAZ Parking, removed every city meter, and replaced them with electronic boxes, which dispenses a receipt which drivers are supposed to display on their dashboards.
That all seems like a good idea... until those dashboards are buried under mounds of snow.
Asked Thursday how anyone would know whether motorists had fed the boxes, and whether enforcement aides would be brushing every windshield to make sure drivers had paid, a city spokesman first said no.
Later, he said he had been misinformed and said the traffic staff would brush aside snow, as long as the cleaning could be done with a gloved hand.
The city then issued a formal statement -- which they said would be going up on the City of Chicago Web site -- clarifying when and where windshields would be cleaned:
"During snowy conditions, drivers generally clear their windshields prior to driving, parking, and displaying a receipt. Parking enforcement personnel may also brush away snow to determine if a pay box receipt is displayed - similar to how they enforce city sticker, disabled placard, residential permit, and expired plate violations. Parking enforcement personnel are asked to use discretion. In the rare occasion when a vehicle is covered by an excessive amount of snow or ice, it may be difficult to determine if a pay box receipt is displayed. If a pay box receipt is obscured by excessive snow or ice, no ticket should be issued.
Further, if a motorist does receive a ticket in error, the pay and display receipt can be used as evidence to challenge the ticket."
The bottom line is that it is the motorist's responsibility to pay. And the city expects you to do so, snow or no snow.