(CBS) – Another financial windfall is in store for the parking meter company that’s already fleeced city taxpayers twice.
A new law making it much tougher for people with disabilities to park free at meters will add millions to the company’s already eye-popping profits.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.
Glenn Florkow, head of the Illinois Secretary of State’s disability parking enforcement unit, and his officers hit city streets and suburban shopping malls Friday, looking for people abusing the blue placards that currently allow drivers with disabilities to park free at meters anywhere in the state.
Bill Bogdan, an advocate for the disabled, knows the system is already being scammed by hundreds of thousands of people who either loan them to others or are simply using the placards to park free.
Starting Jan. 1, people will have to prove they are physically unable to reach meter boxes to insert cash or credit cards.
On patrol with Florkow on Friday, CBS 2 observed placard after placard in meter zones along the Magnificent Mile.
Most of those placards will soon disappear, along with most meter-exempt placards.
Right now, there are 690,000 of them. But of the 270,000 who applied for the new placards, just 25,000 were approved.
That means 96 percent fewer free parkers.
That also means a lot more money for Chicago Parking Meters Inc., the company with the 70-year lease on meters for which it paid the city $1.2 billion. Some aldermen estimate the company is raking in $100 million a year.
Do the math and see who got the better of that deal.
Chicago Parking Meters Inc. wins either way, billing taxpayers for placard parking — or collecting parking fees from those who probably should have been paying all along.
The new law should end the running battle between the mayor and the meter people over spaces that should have been available but weren’t.