Residents upset about parking law crackdown

May 20, 2009 (CHICAGO) The driveways of this neighborhood reflect how people make their living and how they enjoy some free time. Parked there are company work trucks, as well as boats, RVs or snowmobiles. But, now they can get in trouble for having commercial and recreational vehicles on their property if they are not covered in a garage or hidden by a fence, thanks to an ordinance that's been on the books since 1973 and is now being enforced by Cook County.

"There are 76 people in our area with commercial vehicles, and if we can't keep a commercial van, we're all out of work," said Sharon Miller, resident.

Sharon and Jeff Miller moved to the neighborhood more than 30 years ago, drawn by the large lot sizes that they and their neighbors use to store vehicles for work and for play. But a few months ago they were cited for not properly storing their boat and Jeff's company truck, and they had to figure out how to do so in 30 days, or risk a fine of $300 a day, per item.

Earlier this week the Millers hosted a neighborhood meeting to find out how to fight the ordinance. They sought legal counsel.

"This ordinance could be read to prevent a plumber form parking in your driveway ... molly maid car is against the ordinance," said Nick Valadez, attorney.

The neighborhood is represented by Cook County 6th District Commissioner Joan Murphy, who says the ticketing started after one of their own complained about the vehicles.

"Normally the county didn't go out and check neighborhoods and ticket. However, there were numerous calls, people objecting to these vehicles being in a neighbor's driveway," said Murphy.

But many in the neighborhood say issuing tickets and collecting fines is a way for the cash-strapped county to bring in more revenue.

"It's just too small an amount to make any kind of financial difference to cause us to go on a witch hunt to fine these vehicles," said Murphy.

Murphy said she will appeal to her fellow commissioners to see if the ordinance can be amended to exclude commercial vehicles, but she is doubtful the board will allow it to happen.

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