Like the first snowfall each year, it's a Chicago right of passage. The annual winter overnight parking ban. And yes, it began at 3 a.m. Monday.
Beginning this morning and enforced daily until April 1, cars parked between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. on designated streets will be ticketed and towed, even if there is no snow on the ground.
"If these streets shut down, the city could have lots of problems," said Matt Smith of the Department of Streets and Sanitation. "We won't be able to get emergency vehicles through. That's why we have this restriction, to protect the most vital streets in the city."
Despite the presence of snow, permanently posted signs, the advance leafleting of vehicles on the routes and a media blitz since Nov. 20, 165 people still violated the ban and were towed on Monday.
Drivers who ignore the tow zone could face a minimum $150 towing fee in addition to a $50 ticket and an initial $10 daily storage fee, according to the City of Chicago website.
A separate ban also restricts parking on "snow routes" when there are two or more inches on the ground.