CHICAGO (CBS) – Some Chicago residents will get to take advantage of free Sunday parking at parking meters a bit earlier than expected.
After the City Council signed off on a plan to allow free Sunday parking at most neighborhood parking meters in exchange for longer hours at most meters the rest of the week, the switchover originally was set to begin by July 1.
However, Chicago Parking Meters LLC has already started switching parking meters in 12 wards, and parts of those wards will get their first taste of free Sunday parking this weekend.
The areas that will get free Sunday parking this weekend are in the following wards: the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 20th, 22th, 23th, and 25th.
The rest of the city’s wards will get switched over by July 1.
“Everyone in Chicago deserves a day of rest from the awful parking meter deal, and the sooner that relief can begin the better. I am proud to have fought for and won free Sunday parking for our city’s neighborhoods,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a news release.
However, because free Sunday parking is beginning early, so are the longer parking hours. The mayor’s office said longer parking hours will begin on Monday.
Under the agreement with the parking meter firm, meters that until now had to be fed until 9 p.m. must be fed until 10 p.m. – except in River North and Streeterville, where they must be paid until midnight.
Neighborhood meters that must be fed until 6 p.m. won’t be affected.
Several aldermen have expressed concern the benefit of free Sunday parking would be outweighed by having to pay for parking longer the rest of the week. Eleven aldermen voted against the changes to the parking meter deal.
Some business owners have expressed concern that they would be hurt by people tying up nearby parking spaces all day on Sunday to take advantage of free parking, rather thank keeping spaces open for customers.
The mayor’s office has said aldermen will be given the option to opt out of free Sunday parking in their wards if they fear it will hurt local businesses.
It’s unclear if any aldermen will do so.