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Parking Meter Rates Set To Rise Again In 2012

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A Chicago parking pay and display box (Credit: CBS)

A Chicago parking pay and display box (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – For the fourth consecutive year, parking meter rates in Chicago are about to go up under the city’s maligned 75-year lease of its parking meters.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, only the property tax seems to be hated more than the city’s lease deal that put parking meters in private hands.

Starting on Jan. 1, 2012, parking meter rates will go up between 25 and 75 cents per hour, depending on where you park.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

In downtown Chicago — an area bounded by Lake Michigan to the east, Wacker Drive to the north and west and Congress Parkway to the south — the rate will go up from $5 per hour to $5.75 per hour. That rate is cut in half during off-peak hours from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.

In the Central Business District — an area bounded by Lake Michigan to the east, North Avenue to the north, Halsted Street to the west and Roosevelt Road to the south, exclusive of the premium rate downtown — parking meter rates jump from $3 per hour to $3.50 per hour in the new year.

In the rest of the city, parking meter rates will rise from $1.50 per hour to $1.75 per hour.

One driver who spoke to WBBM Newsradio said he doesn’t park at the city’s parking meters and he thinks $5.75 an hour is “way too much” to pay for street parking.

Under the city’s 75-year lease of the parking meters to Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, the company was granted five scheduled parking meter rate hikes from 2009 to 2013. After that, potential rate hikes are tied to the rate of inflation.

Although the rate hikes officially go into effect on Jan. 1, it will take time for the company to make the needed changes to the city’s parking pay boxes. The rate hikes will start in the Loop and move outward into the neighborhoods. Motorists will only be responsible for paying the rate posted at the spot where they are parking.

One driver said, despite the flaws of the lease deal, he believes there has been at least one benefit.

“Sure, I mean I think it’s one more example of them raising fees and not giving the people a chance to vote on it or discuss it – which I think they should be able to – but there is the benefit that we would drive less, hopefully,” he said.

He said he wouldn’t pay $5.75 an hour to park downtown, “when a day pass for the CTA is only just over $5.”

There has been plenty of new controversy over the parking meter lease deal recently, after the company submitted a $13.5 million bill to the city for lost revenue from disabled drivers who are able to park for free at parking meters.

The company has also billed the city more than $2 million for lost revenue from street closures due to utility work and street festivals that cut off access to metered parking spaces.

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