CHICAGO (CBS) — Parking is no longer free for motorists with handicaps and disabilities in Illinois, unless they display a new yellow and gray placard in their windshield.
Enforcement began Thursday, and a Chicago Dept. of Revenue spokesperson said compliance appears to be good, although an unspecified number of tickets had been issued.
The city of Chicago’s controversial $1.15 billion parking meter contract can be blamed for the change. The contract provides that the city reimburse Chicago Parking Meters LLC for any free parking provided to motorists who display handicapped placards or plates.
As a result, those wishing to park for free now must obtain a note from a doctor saying they are physically incapable of feeding meter boxes. All others must pay.
The city has contended that the old blue and red permits and handicapped plates were abused by many drivers. The old state law allowed anyone displaying a permit or plate to park free indefinitely at any metered spot.
The city of Chicago warned motorists for weeks about the new law. Flyers were left on cars still sporting red or blue handicapped placards, and signs were placed on meter boxes. Revenue Department spokesperson Kelley Quinn said overall compliance Thursday appeared to be good.
She cited two examples. One was on Randolph Street, in front of the Oriental Theatre; she said two checks showed no blue placards where there used to be as many as nine on any given day. Nearby on Wells Street, only one of the old placards was visible, and she said that motorist had a parking receipt on the dashboard.
Quinn said those ticketed in the city of Chicago must pay expired meter fines — $65 downtown and $50 in the rest of the city. She expected to be able to provide first-day ticketing numbers sometime Friday.