City Council to Consider Ordinance Targeting Parking Company Accused of Assault, Other Abuses

December 15, 2008

Stephanie Gray, Chicago Talks

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) asked a Chicago City Council committee last week to stop parking companies from booting cars on private property in his West Side ward.

The Committee on License and Consumer Protection unanimously approved the ordinance, which could go to the full city council as early as Dec. 17th.

Legally parked residents and business owners in the 32nd Ward — which includes parts of the Roscoe Village, Bucktown, Lakeview and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, among others — have reported being harassed and, in some cases, assaulted by employees of Global Parking Management, said Waguespack. Global Parking provides security to 30 to 40 parking lots in Chicago, 10 of which are in the 32nd Ward, according to a Global Parking representative.

Waguespack said patrons of Roscoe Village shops and restaurants are “living in fear” of Global Parking’s employees, who have been accused of booting vehicles belonging to legitimate shoppers.

“A lot of the stories we hear are people who did shop there and just took a detour,” briefly stopping in to a nearby coffee shop or convenience store before returning to their cars, he said.

At least three cases of physical violence between parkers and Global Parking employees have been reported to Waguespack in the last month, the alderman said.

Roseanne Denigris, co-owner of Global Parking Management, said she had not heard any complaints of Global Parking employees physically assaulting any customers, but said there is a case pending against a disgruntled neighbor, who she says assaulted Denigris’ husband, who is also her business partner.

“People don’t like what we do — we boot cars,” said Denigris. “It’s not a great business, but someone has to do it.”

“They boot people like they own the world,” said John Gagliardi, owner of Village Pizzeria, located at 2356 W. Chicago Ave., which used to share a lot secured by Global Parking Management with a neighboring Burger King. Amid as many as 12 customer complaints a day, Gagliardi chose earlier this year to stop renting spaces from the fast-food giant.

Since Global Parking began supervising the shared lot four years ago, Village Pizzeria’s lunch revenue has dropped by 50 percent, said Gagliardi.

“It’s terrible the way they do it, too,” he said. “They use dirty tactics where they block cars in and take money on the side.”

Gagliardi described seeing Global Parking once boot an ambulance when its drivers legally parked in a space designated for Village Pizzeria while they ran inside to buy a slice of pizza. He also said he had a gun pulled on him by a Global Parking employee when he tried to intervene in a heated argument between the employee and a distraught customer. This incident could not be verified by the Chicago Police Department.

“That’s ridiculous,” said Denigris, denying all of the claims. “We do not boot ambulances.”

Sixty-eight complaints against the company have been reported to the Better Business Bureau in the last 36 months, and in the last year, 24 complaints were closed because the “company failed to respond to the BBB to resolve or address the complaint issues,” according to the bureau’s web site.