Chicago parking meter rates go up in 2013

December 27, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Once again, rates at Chicago's parking meters are going up. For some city street parking, it's a significant price increase.

As recently as 2008 it cost 25 cents an hour to park on the street in some Chicago neighborhoods. In 2013, drivers will need eight quarters to park for an hour, and in the Loop, it will cost a whole lot more.

"It's unfair," said Joe Nedbal. "The only person that's really losing out is the common man that's just trying to make a buck every day and park as close as he can to work, try to make it through these winters."

It's a distinction Chicagoans aren't proud of: Home of the most expensive street parking in the United States.

Starting New Year's Day, rates in the Loop will go up to $6.50 an hour, the most expensive in the country, and an increase of 75 cents over this year and $3 since 2008.

"That's tough. I definitely will be looking at taking much more public transportation when I can," said John Frizzell.

Parking in crowded Manhattan is cheaper than the Loop at $5 an hour. In Los Angeles, where everyone drives, the highest rate is $4 an hour. And on the narrow streets of Boston, the most they pay to park is $1.25 an hour.

In the central business district, near the Loop, rates are going up to $4 an hour, and in the neighborhoods, the rate increases by $2 an hour.

At Village Eyecare in Little Italy there was concern it will impact their customers.

"It's going to make it harder on them to make it here into the office, and obviously affects their pocket, which impacts our business," said Dr. Seth Sarai.

"It's terrible. I'm probably going to start going to the suburbs or take public transportation," said Nelly Delfini.

Some drivers have nicknamed the parking pay boxes "Mayor Daley Meters," a reference to the former mayor's 2008 decision to lease the city's meters to a private company, Chicago Parking Meters LLC.

Current Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ordered a full review of the 75-year contract, but few are holding their breath.

"Seems like this deal was a signed contract," said Dr. Sarai. "It's unfortunate for all of us who live in the city."

Still, Cesar Rolon isn't convinced what's done is done. Rolon started an online petition this week, hoping to send political leaders a message.

"We're hoping for thousands of votes," Rolon said. "Just letting the politicians, our congressmen, our state reps know, that we've had enough. And that's why they're in office, to represent us."

The city leased its parking meters for $1.15 billion to Chicago Parking Meters LLC. The company's own documents show that it expects to earn 10 times that amount over the life of the lease. The company declined ABC7's request for an interview.

This may not be the last increase we see. The contract allows for future increases based on the rate of inflation, starting in 2014.

The transition to the new rates will start in the downtown area and move outward into the neighborhoods. Weather conditions permitting, the goal is to complete the transition by the end of February.

As the transition moves forward, motorists are only responsible for paying the posted rate on the meters.

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