To pay or not to pay: the 24-hour parking meter question

February 13, 2009

So the Great Parking Meter Rate Hike of '09 began in Chicago's Loop today.‚  As part of the city's lease with the private company that now operates the meters, there will be more 24-hour parking meters downtown.‚  That means some of you who have parked your cars overnight for free will now have to pay to park. I know what you're thinking, "Now I have to wake up every two hours to feed the meter!" I'm here to say you may not have to (if you're willing to play the odds).

The city's revenue director, Bea Reyna-Hickey, tells me even though there will be more 24-hour meters, there will be no increase in the number of parking enforcement aides.‚  Which means the same number of enforcers will have more meters to watch during the wee hours.‚  Those odds look stacked in the overnight parker's favor. But they might not stay that way.

Chicago still employs all the people who will be issuing parking tickets and the city collects all the revenue from those tickets.‚  The private company, Chicago Parking Meters, LLC only collects the money drivers put in the parking meters. So depending on how the books balance out, CPM could hire it's own enforcers, too.‚  The question is, over time, will Chicago Parking Meters, LLC think it's worth it to add to the enforcer ranks to scare us into handing over more of our quarters?‚  We'll see.

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