The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Only Chicago Parking Meters LLC Is Happy About Changes To Meter Deal

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 30, 2013 10:00PM

"Curse you, parking meter!" (Photo Credit: Rolour Garcia)

Now that a day has passed since Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced his attempt to make “a little lemonade from a big lemon” with the changes to the parking meter deal, let’s see how little lemonade Emanuel actually made.

One alderman upset by the agreement is Brendan Reilly (42nd), whose ward will be hardest hit by extending the hours motorists have to pay for parking in exchange for free neighborhood parking on Sundays. Weekday parking will be extended to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday except for River North — you’ll have to feed the pay box until midnight there.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), whose ward includes River North, told DNAInfo Chicago he was “blindsided” by the deal.

"According to the press release, the administration has been negotiating with Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, for some time," Reilly said. "As recently as last week, I've been in meetings with members of the Cabinet involved in these negotiations, and at no moment did anyone mention this to me."

Reilly (42nd) said he's "disappointed that I wasn't included in those discussions" since the proposal "would essentially be financed by extending meter hours in the 42nd Ward."

Reilly added that River North is attracting a growing number of young professionals who live and work in the neighborhood and the decision to extend the hours to pay for parking could have an adverse effect on that growth. Then again, so could River North being excluded from the free Sunday parking.

— Reilly is among a handful of aldermen who have voiced objections to the time frame they’ll have to review the changes to the contract once Emanuel proposes them in an ordinance at next week’s City Council meeting. Aldermen will be given 30 days to review the changes but, seeing as how most of them didn’t even look at the original deal before approving it five years ago, they don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) told WBEZ, “This is supposed to be an open, transparent government that serves the people of the City of Chicago, and I don’t see it from this kind of transaction.” Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) added, “In this case I think more communication would have been better up front. You want partners in this.”

— For anyone who believes Chicago Parking Meters LLC wouldn’t agree to this deal without making up for the lost Sunday revenues somehow, Steven Vance has some numbers for you. Vance did some rough calculations and found CPM could make more revenue from parking with the free Sunday parking than currently. (And that’s not even accounting for future rate hikes.)

Vance also took the mayor to task for bringing religion into his announcement.

No one asked to have free parking on Sunday. No one asked to have free parking on any day. Sunday is the day when people drive the least! If anyone deserves a break, it shouldn’t go to a small segment of the popular (“Sunday churchgoers”, Rahm said, acting as if they’re being harmed, and excluding churchgoers who don’t attend on Sundays), but to everyone who had to pay more than the parking space was worth and anyone who couldn’t get a bike lane in while people are being doored left and right.

Vance cited a 2009 report by the Active Transportation Alliance on the parking meter deal that concluded why free parking is a bad idea, beyond revenue.

We’ve included that report below.

Active Transportation Alliance 2009 Parking Meter Privatization Report by Chicagoist