Residents who own properties along a stretch of North Wilton Avenue in Chicago say they've freely parked under the adjacent "L" tracks for decades, thanks to an agreement that was made with the Chicago Transit Authority's predecessor in the era of the horse and buggy.
However, they’re now being told to pay the CTA $75 a month to park behind their homes. Something many neighbors are chalking up to a money grab.
“I think it's because of the popularity of the neighborhood and the fact that values are going up around here,” said neighbor Barb Davis.
Residents said the 123-year-old agreement means they have a different set of rules than other homeowners who live next to "L" tracks.
“They (CTA) just bought the rights to use our land for the air rights for the train and the columns that the train’s supported on,” said neighbor Michael Joseph.
But the CTA said it owns the land. And a spokesperson said some neighbors complained about crime in the area during the Cubs championship run, as well as parking spots being sold.
So the CTA said it is giving residents a chance to sign up for parking in its "under the el program", which was approved by the alderman.
“It would be patrolled. It would be maintained. We'd put gravel down. If somebody parked in their spot and they weren't supposed to be there, we would tow them,” said CTA spokesperson Tammy Chase.
According to the CTA, 40 spots are impacted and more than 14 spaces have been reserved by neighbors.
“The way that CTA is proposing that we pay to park, they're only going to allow us one to two cars per house, which is still gonna have cars spill over the land,” Joseph said.
Neighbors have started a petition to “stop the CTA from taking unilateral action to force the residents of Wilton Avenue to give up their lawful rights in back of their properties, as they have done in over 100 years.”