Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Parking frustrations

I was cynically amused to read this morning of how Chicago motorists are taking out their frustrations at soaring parking meter costs - by trashing the meters.

You think eight is enough? How about 12? That's how many quarters buy an hour of parking time in some places now. And its why some people have had enough.

. . .

LAZ is a Chicago company which collects the money for the New York owner which paid the city $1.2 billion to lease the city's 36,000 meters for 75 years. They've pasted new stickers on them, doubled the rates to as much as a quarter for five minutes in the Loop. That's $3 an hour to $2 an hour in many other neighborhoods. People are angry.

"People come into this neighborhood for entertainment reasons, and you can't anymore because meters are so expensive," said Joe DiSalvo.

And people are frustrated.

"It's jammed," a woman said.

CBS 2 called the company, too; twice to New York, another to Chicago. They didn't call back. We also called the city. They called back but basically said, 'not our meters anymore, not our problem anymore.'

Enter a guy who calls himself 'Mike The Parking Ticket Geek.' He contacted us via Twitter and showed us his website,, which he used to give people advice on how to beat parking tickets. The site has become a lightning rod for peoples' complaints about the new rates and operators.

Mike says the people who are writing to him have a sense of "anger, frustration, rage in some cases."

To the point where some, it appears, are vandalizing the meters. Pictures on Mike's website show meters deliberately smashed, taken apart, spray-painted, or deliberately jammed.

Photographs courtesy of

"People suggest taking a quarter, putting some super glue on it, and putting it in the coin slot," Mike said.

That jams the meter and everyone parks for free. Or not at all.

More at the link.

This whole mess illustrates the fecklessness of Chicago's municipal authorities - and many others like them around the country. They've gone for short-term cash, taking $1.2 billion from a company in return for letting that company 'milk' all parking meter proceeds for the next three-quarters of a century. What did they expect the company to do? Be a beneficent, generous, charitable institution and not put up parking rates? Like hell! If that company has a $1.2 billion financing charge to pay, they're going to soak motorists for all they can get!

One can't blame the company for doing what comes naturally: but one can certainly blame Chicago authorities for putting their short-term financial welfare over the long-term welfare and convenience of their citizens. Perhaps someone should point that out to Chicagoans before the next municipal elections . . . although, given the endemic corruption of Chicago politics, I daresay the incumbents would still win, no matter what the will of the electorate!

I recommend visiting The Expired Meter. It's a very interesting Web site to illustrate the follies and foibles of a feckless administration. (Or is that too many effs?)



Michael W. said...

Hey Peter,

Just remember the classic movie Cool Hand Luke. They put Luke in jail for cutting the heads off parking meters. When the Judge asked him why he did it, Luke replied:

Small town, not much to do in the evenin'


reflectoscope said...

..."but one can certainly blame Chicago authorities for putting their short-term financial welfare over the long-term welfare and convenience of their citizens."