Parking Meters May Go Hollywood

L.A. considers Chicago Way

While at least some members of Los Angeles's City Council look at Chicago's parking meter mess and see . . . a mess, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa looks at Chicago's parking meter mess and sees . . . money.

Villaraigosa wants to auction off his city's meters just like Mayor Richard M. Daley did.

He should look closely at that Los Angeles Times photo accompanying its story about the plan. Its from Chicago, and the caption reads: "James Peters of Chicago realizes he’s inserting quarters into a broken parking meter. Anger crested in recent months when meters across the city started jamming."

The paper also notes that increased rates here in Chicago resulted in "a driver uprising that left meters mangled by tire irons and coin slots filled with Super Glue."

An undeterred Villaraigosa - the former "Pop Star Mayor" recently called a failure on the cover of Los Angeles magazine - says " I want the council to think outside the box and follow the lead of other major cities like Chicago."

The Times caught up with a couple of Chicagoans who should serve as cautionary tales for Villagairosa. After all, he has less Teflon on his entire body than Rich Daley has on his pinkie toes.

"Caught in a soaking rain earlier this month, a steamed Carolyn Calhoun pumped eight quarters into a parking meter near Chicago's downtown Central Hearing Facility. The fistful of change bought her just enough time to walk inside and pay $200 in parking tickets - for expired meters, she muttered through clenched teeth," the Times reported.

"That's the city - just nickel-and-diming us to death," Calhoun told the paper.

"Nearby, Rohan Dhimar, 23, had choice words for city officials who had approved the lease plan. He got nailed with a $50 ticket for an expired meter while interviewing for a job downtown.

"'They're . . . idiots. All this money and the city is still falling apart. Have you seen the number of potholes in Chicago?' he said."

The Times also talks to Ald. Scott Waguespack and our local Parking Ticket Geek, who said "It's really turned mean in the last four months."

Let that be a warning to you, Antonio.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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