It’s timely, isn’t it? I just wrote about the Chicago parking meter lease and how bad it is for urban policy and next thing I know, the City is getting hit with a $22 million bill to cover a year’s worth of free parking. Even worse, it’s part of a total $50 million the City owes.
So, why the bill? Isn’t Chicago Parking Meters, the company set up to administer the City’s parking meters is surely raking it in, to the tune of $108 million in gross revenues in 2011. It turns out that the City’s parking policies are in conflict with terms of the lease. When the City let’s disabled persons park for free (as is the law in Illinois), when the City closes streets for neighborhood festivals, when the City is reconstructing streets, these are all in violation of the lease terms.
This is a serious problem because it restricts the City’s ability to set parking policy, a fundamental urban planning tool that is now off-limits if it conflicts with the lease. Whereas the general public sees higher parking fees explicitly, it is now becoming clear that neighborhood festivals and construction projects now will cost a lot more money for the taxpayers of Chicago.