Aldermen lead growing opposition to Rahm Emanuel deal for free parking on Sundays

May 6, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Many aldermen say they were never consulted and feel the plan is being forced on them much like the original parking plan was forced by former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"There are lots of unintended consequences that come with the Mayor's proposal for free Sunday parking," 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly said.

Reilly is trying to convince his council colleagues that trading longer meter hours downtown for free neighborhood parking on Sundays will only cost his constituents more money.

"Nothing is free. This amounts to taking money out of your right pocket and putting it in your left," Reilly said.

Emanuel and the private investors leasing the parking system announced revisions to the remaining 71 years of the parking meter contract.

During the next seven decades, Chicago will pay $1 billion less for when the city repairs or closes metered streets. Also, in the Loop and Near North Side, the city would allow Chicago Parking LLC extended meter hours seven days a week until 10 p.m. or midnight.

In return, the company has agreed to free parking on Sundays to those needing a space in the neighborhoods.

"Through the week, they got to take their kids to school. Through the week they got to go to work. At least give them one day to have something free," Chicago resident Felicia Moore said.

"If this company here says they're down with it, that means they're obviously making more money on this," Chicago resident Chris Quinn said.

Some alderman say businesses in their wards don't want free parking on Sundays.

"Because they don't want people living in a parking space. They want them to keep moving so they can keep doing business," 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett said.

Alderman Ameya Pawar is undecided and concerned that the Emanuel administration is rushing the deal, repeating a Daley administration mistake.

"I feel like once again, these foreign investors are putting a gun to city council's head and saying make a decision and that's just not right," Pawar said.

The private company has given the city until August to make a decision on the deal. Some alderman want to consider its component parts.

The public has yet to see estimates of how much the company would lose or gain and how much revenue the city would lose on Sunday parking tickets.

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