Chicago's neighborhoods are teeming with parking enforcers these days, but it's far from clear that Mayor Daley's efforts to nickel-and-dime you are paying off.
"In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Chicago officials revealed that parking meter violations have grown by 13 percent to more than 161,000 so far this year, representing more than $8 million in potential fines," the Tribune reports.
"Yet from January through March, almost three quarters of some 6,000 meter violations challenged in the city's administrative courts were dismissed after hearing officers ruled that drivers were not liable or the tickets contained errors, city officials said in response to the Tribune's FOIA request."
But the city's well-known parking meter fiasco, which is certainly largely to blame for these figures, is only part of the story.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the city appears to have more personnel roaming the streets checking for, say, neighborhood permit violations, than they do gang cops busting open-air drug markets.
Some parts of town truly feel like a parking police state.
"I can attest as a frequently driver to the gold coast that their are literally swarms and hordes of . . . no not zombies-(worse) . . . ticket writers," writes commenter Hilarious Joe at The Expired Meter. "Many times over the past two months, I have observed the same blocks being scoured multiple times by ticket writers from various different agencies, for example groups of ticket writers with ticket books dressed in new orange tma vests, followed by five or ten minutes by ticket writers with computers and department of revenue vests, who are then followed within a half an hour by ticket writers wearing generic orange construction vests with ticketbooks (serco or LAZ?), who are then followed by a few minutes by cpd officer on a Segway mobility device (& during the same hour and a half a city tow truck also snatched a car parked in a no parking zone near a corner, with the tow driver writing his own ticket before towing)."
(I can attest to the same thing in my Wicker Park neighborhood. Memo to this year's college graduating classes: There's a future in parking ticket enforcement.)
"The city's more aggressive enforcement in nearly all categories of parking violations is linked to the Daley administration's attempt to maximize fine collections and improve the city's bleak budget picture," the Tribune notes.
Ironically, even as the mayor desperately tries to pry more money out of your pocket for such dangers to the Republic as a bumper hanging an inch or two inside the yellow line, he (supposedly) wants you to appeal your property tax bills.
The Expired Meter's Parking Ticket Geek has a different idea:
"To me, the most disappointing piece of [the Tribune's] data is the number of contested tickets. Only 6,196?
"C’mon guys! That’s only about 5%! We can do better than that. Get to work!"
Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review. He once had a years-long battle with City Hall over a slew of parking tickets and won.