News

Mayor scoffs at criticism on parking meter increases

December 5, 2008

Dan Mihalopoulos and Hal Dardick, Chicago Tribune

Mayor Richard Daley today scoffed at complaints that next month’s increases in parking meter rates would affect people in many Chicago neighborhoods.

The mayor said there are “very few (meters) in the neighborhoods. It’s about 80 percent downtown-80, 85 percent downtown in 2 or 3 wards. It’s not in the communities.”

In fact, of the city’s 34,264 metered spots, about 8,100 are in the 42nd and 2nd Wards that cover downtown. That’s only about one-fourth of them, not the four-fifths Daley claimed. In the neighborhoods, metered parking spots that cost a quarter an hour will increase to $1 an hour next month, reaching $2 an hour by 2013.

The mayor’s remarks came at a news conference where he talked about the city’s snow removal efforts.

Daley also rebutted complaints that the city got the bad end of the deal in leasing the meters to a private operator who will pay $1.2 billion upfront for the right to collect the money for the next 75 years. The City Council also has approved a $2.5 billion, 99-year lease for Midway Airport.

“We’re lucky we’ve done these things in a very difficult and challenging market,” Daley said. “All the economists are now looking at Chicago, finding out how they do this in a challenging economy – that we basically leased public assets for the public good.”

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), one of the five aldermen who voted against the deal, said the city could make more money in the long run — about $4 billion — by continuing to operate the meters.

“We are privatizing something for a quick shot in the arm,” Waguespack said.

Daley sarcastically offered to lease the meters to aldermanic critics: “I’ll sell it to you for $4 billion. You go out and get $4 billion.”

Asked if the deal had mortgaged Chicago’s future, the mayor replied, “The people own the asset to be used today for this generation of people and not for 2050 …. Our responsibility is to help the generation right now.”

Number of Parking Meters by City Ward

WARD   ALDERMAN    PARKING METERS

42   Brendan Reilly    4,206

2   Robert Fioretti    3,925

44   Thomas Tunney    1,767

32   Scott Waguespack   1,419

47   Eugene Schulter    1,550

48   Mary Ann Smith    1,037

27   Walter Burnettt Jr.   1,088

50   Bernard Stone    973

25   Daniel Solis    1,065

12   George Cardenas    628

35   Rey Colon    1,066

45   Patrick Levar    750

43   Vi Daley    1,052

31   Ray Suarez    623

46   Helen Shiller    935

39   Margaret Laurino   725

33   Richard Mell    824

4   Toni Preckwinkle   613

1   Manuel Flores    1,053

19   Virginia Rugai    579

15   Toni Foulkes    553

49   Joseph Moore    767

38   Thomas Allen    348

40   Patrick O’Connor   892

20   Willie Cochran    312

6   Freddrenna Lyle    336

11   James Balcer    452

5   Leslie Hairston    417

22   Ricardo Muñoz    558

3   Pat Dowell    456

26   Billy Ocasio    336

30   Ariel Reboyras    757

28   Ed Smith    196

8   Michelle Harris    309

10   John Pope    265

14   Ed Burke    223

9   Anthony Beale    199

36   William J.P. Banks   218

7   Sandi Jackson    114

41   Brian Doherty    255

13   Frank Olivo    149

23   Michael Zalewski   10

17   Latasha Thomas    63

24   Sharon Dixon    35

16   JoAnn Thompson    29

29   Isaac Carothers    110

37   Emma Mitts    18

21   Howard Brookins Jr.   6

18   Lona Lane  3

34   Carrie Austin    0

Total        34,264

–Source: Chicago Department of Revenue