Mayor Emanuel 'making lemonade' out of city parking meter deal

Chicago parking meter file image
April 30, 2013 2:33:01 AM PDT
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has struck a new deal for Chicago's parking meters that could save the city $1 billion.

In a 10 minute-long speech - with no questions afterward - the mayor made it clear the parking meter lease was still a bad deal for Chicago. But he said it had been modified to save the city $1 billion during the next 75 years.

"The company knows now that I'm a different type of mayor, this is a different administration and Chicago has a different way of doing business these days," Mayor Emanuel said.

Meant as a jab towards the Daley administration that negotiated the original deal, Mayor Emanuel said Monday that the parking meter lease has been improved by the new proposal.

Chicago Parking Meters L.L.C. agreed the city does not owe the firm $60 million over the past three years for loss of meter revenue caused by street closures.

"I wasn't about to blindly accept their word or their numbers on what we owed them," Mayor Emanuel said. "We have found a difference of $20 million a year between what the company claimed we owed and what we actually owed them."

Alderman Howard Brookins says he thinks the mayor scored a popular victory, especially with free Sunday parking in the neighborhoods.

"People who want to get out in the neighborhoods, I think that's huge. And I think it will encourage more people to come to the city on weekends," said 21st Ward Alderman Howard Brookins.

The changes have to be approved by the City Council, which is expected to be hear the amendment on May 8, 2013. The city will have 30 days to review the proposal. Chicago Parking Meters L.L.C. issued a statement Monday afternoon urging the city council to ratify the contract modifications. If approved the city would drop any legal action against the company.

Free neighborhood parking on Sundays

If that goes as planned, Chicago residents won't have to pay for parking on Sunday in many neighborhoods as early as this summer 2013. Free Sunday parking will be allowed in neighborhoods south of Roosevelt, west of Halsted, and north of North Avenue.

Pay-by-cell option by 2014

The parking meters will introduce pay-by-cell feature by the summer of 2014. According to a release from the city of Chicago, pay-by-cell will eliminate the need for parkers to visit a pay box, print a parking receipt and place it in the windshield of a car. Instead, parkers would enter a number posted on a pay box into a cellular phone app and pay through a previously set up account that requires $20.

There will be a convenience fee 35-cents for purchases of less than 2 hours at one time.

Extended parking meter hours

Also, as part of the deal, the city has agreed to extend metered parking in some areas:

  • Where paying for parking is currently required until 9 p.m., it'll be 10 p.m.
  • Where parking is currently required until 9 p.m. in the area bordered by the Chicago River to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Division Street to the north, and the Chicago River to the west, it'll be extended to midnight.

Residential streets that expire at 6 p.m. will not see an increase of hours.

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