15-day grace period to end after switch to year-round city stickers
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter February 26, 2014 3:31PM
Updated: February 26, 2014 5:45PM
Motorists will no longer face long lines at the city clerk’s office when Chicago makes the switch to year-round city vehicle stickers, but there’s a catch: no more fifteen-day grace period.
On Wednesday, the City Council’s License Committee approved a plan to codify until July 1, 2016–and make year-round–a fifteen-day break that’s has extended the June 30 sticker deadline every year until July 15.
That will give the clerk’s office a chance to transition all 1.3 million registered motorists to staggered, year-round sales.
Once the transition has been completed, there will be no more break. Chicago Police and parking enforcement aides from the city and city clerk’s office will start issuing $200 tickets on Day One. There will be a 30-day grace period on the $60 late fee, just as there is with Il. Secretary of State.
“This will be an entirely different system than what people are used. They’re used to long lines. They’re used to big headaches. They’re used to legitimately being able to say, `I did not have time to get my sticker.’ That will disappear with the year-round system,” Mendoza said Wednesday.
“The historical need to have that [grace period] is gone. After this transition is over, they operate very much like the [Secretary of State] does. You don’t hear people complain about long lines there anymore because they don’t exist.”
The transition to year-round stickers will follow an exhaustive education campaign to gather vehicle identification numbers from 1.3 million Chicago motorists. After that, motorists will be assigned a new sticker expiration date that’s six months after their state license plates expire.
Starting this spring, motorists will be forced to make a choice: purchase a pro-rated city sticker that carries them anywhere from one-to-11 months until their new exipiration date or shell out even more money to be rid of the annual sticker headache for longer than a year.
“In June, we might have a little bit of a bigger group because we’re keeping our seniors on a June cycle just to keep it simple for them. I don’t want a 90-year-old senior getting a February month, as an example. That would be horrible,” Mendoza said.
The clerk had originally predicted that the switch to year-round sticker sales—and the vastly-improved tracking system using V.I.N. numbers–would generate $1.2 million in additional sticker fees, beginning in 2015.
Instead, the result has been a $4.5 million windfall, as of Dec. 31.
“We’re way ahead of any original prediction that we made. It’s already raised a significant amount of money when, I would argue, other agencies are not going up to the fifth-floor [mayor’s office] saying, `Here’s an extra four million bucks,’ “ Mendoza said.
“We’re no longer on the honor system. People in the past used to come to the clerk’s office and say, `I had a renewal for Jeep Cherokee, but I actually drive a Honda Civic. So, we’d be like, `Okay. $85 vs. $135.’ People can’t cheat the system anymore because we know through your V.I.N. what vehicle you’re driving. So, if you had a free ride in the past, you’re not getting it anymore. It’s a much fairer system.”
The switch to year-round sales — and the change to a no-nonsense sticker design that’s easy to enforce — allowed Mendoza to rid herself of the political headache caused by the annual contest to design the city sticker.
The 2012 design was pulled after it was tied to a gang controversy.