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City cracks down on disability-parking scofflaws

Abuse disabled-parking placards like one hanging car above has prompted new state law thtakes effect next year.  |

Abuse of disabled-parking placards like the one hanging in the car above has prompted a new state law that takes effect next year. | Sun-Times files

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Updated: May 9, 2012 10:07AM



The city of Chicago has been cracking down on disabled-parking cheats since September, when a Chicago Sun-Times reporter begin asking Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration about the problem, city records show.

The city wrote a total of 3,248 parking tickets in September, October and November to people the Emanuel administration says used fake, stolen or otherwise invalid disability-parking placards or license plates to park for free in metered zones, the records show.

That’s nearly 15 times the number of tickets the city had issued for disability-parking abuses during the previous nearly five-year period, from Jan. 1, 2006, to Sept. 1, 2011.

City officials attribute the dramatic rise in the number of tickets being issued to a shift that saw city Revenue Department employees resume their previous role as the main ticket-writing force in the Loop. That happened in August, after Emanuel laid off 40 city Traffic Management Authority workers who had primarily been doing parking enforcement.

Also, in late September, all Revenue Department employees underwent training on how to spot fake, stolen or otherwise invalid disability-parking placards and license plates.

Here’s a look at the number of tickets per week issued in September, October and November. Most were issued in the Loop. Each ticket carries a $200 fine.

Sept. 1-3: 136

Sept. 4-10: 276

Sept. 11-17: 256

Sept 18-24: 284

Sept. 25-Oct. 1: 300

Oct. 2-Oct. 8: 275

Oct. 9-Oct. 15: 262

Oct. 16-Oct 22: 253

Oct. 23-Oct. 29: 292

Oct. 30-Nov. 4: 254

Nov. 6-Nov. 12: 244

Nov. 13-Nov. 19: 237

Nov. 20-Nov. 26: 157

Nov. 27-Nov. 30: 22

TOTAL: 3,248

Why parking problems could cost city $13.5 million

Using a formula in the 521-page meter-privatization deal inked by former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration, Chicago Parking Meters LLC has billed Chicago taxpayers $13.5 million to reimburse it for the number of people who parked for free using disability placards and license plates between Feb. 28, 2010, and Feb. 28, 2011.

Those drivers got $17.9 million of free parking for the yearlong period — only $4.4 million of which the company had to absorb, under the formula. The meter-privatization deal calls for taxpayers to pay Chicago Parking Meters the $13.5-million difference, the Sun-Times reported last week.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is disputing the bill but concedes that many who park for free aren’t disabled.

Here are the top five dates in each zone of the city where Chicago Parking Meters found widespread use of disabled-parking placards and license plates, along with the annual loss in meter revenue, based on the formula:

Central Business District, Zone 1
Bounded by North Avenue, Lake Michigan, Roosevelt Road and Halsted Street

Date Hourly rate Paying Parkers Disabled parkers Annual loss
Sept. 30 $4.25 868 1,103 $1.51 million
Dec. 15 $2.50 6,946 2,350 $1.47 million
Nov. 9 $4.25 859 1,081 $1.41 million
Sept. 30 $2.50 7,342 2,306 $1.36 million
Nov. 9 $2.50 6,976 2,084 $1.34 million

North Side, Zone 2
Bounded by north city limits, Lake Michigan, North Avenue and west city limits

Date Hourly rate Paying Parkers Disabled parkers Annual loss
Sept. 30 $1.25 1,085 227 $941,582
Dec. 15 $1.25 1,344 244 $774,170
Nov. 19 $1.25 1,110 199 $730,237
Aug. 18 $1.25 1,260 181 $628,906
Sept. 25 $1.25 1,679 230 $246,604

West Side, Zone 3
Bounded by North Avenue, Halsted Street, Roosevelt Road and west city limits

Date Hourly rate Paying Parkers Disabled parkers Annual loss
Sept. 30 $1.25 410 83 $224,047
Dec. 15 $1.25 399 81 $214,879
Aug. 18 $1.25 380 74 $209,516
Sept. 25 $1.25 385 54 $62,092
Aug. 21 $1.25 412 49 $51,183

South Side, Zone 4
Bounded by Roosevelt Road, Lake Michigan, south city limits and west city limits

Date Hourly rate Paying Parkers Disabled parkers Annual loss
Dec. 15 $1.25 415 148 $503,831
Sept. 30 $1.25 735 210 $446,381
Aug. 18 $1.25 485 88 $279,082
Nov. 9 $1.25 531 100 $277,917
Sept. 25 $1.25 618 100 $101,122


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