Chicago's Awful Parking Meters Make Big Bucks For Private Investors Again

By aaroncynic in News on May 24, 2016 8:13PM

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

The city’s much maligned parking meter deal is once again coming back to haunt Chicagoans—just like it has every year—as private investors once again raked in big bucks while we get nothing.

The Sun-Times reports parking meters brought in $121.7 million last year and city-run garages took in $34.7 million. But thanks to Mayor Richard M. Daley's 2008 deal to lease the meters and garages to a private company formed by big banks (some of which have been long-term investors in current Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s political career) Chicago will see none of that cash.

In 2008, Daley signed over the next 75 years of meter money to Chicago Parking Meters, a consortium led by banking behemoth Morgan Stanley, in a move that only five members of the City Council opposed at the time. Since then, rates have skyrocketed (downtown areas more than doubled in cost to $6.50 an hour by 2013) and the company has netted $778.6 million in revenue. By 2020, the company will have made back its initial $1.15 billion investment and will continue to profit for 60 years.

Emanuel made some minor changes to the arrangement in 2013 by lessening the penalties paid to CPM when meters are blocked off by the city, but the tab for out of service meters paid by taxpayers was still $8.6 million last year.

Meanwhile, the four parking garages the city sold to another Morgan Stanley-led group in a separate deal have taken in $292.6 million in the past nine years.