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239 cars towed as overnight parking ban began Sunday

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Updated: January 3, 2014 6:18AM

Drivers flocked to city tow yards Sunday, shaking their heads — and fists — in exasperation after the first day of Chicago’s overnight winter parking ban once again managed to ensnare hundreds of vehicles.

In all, 239 vehicles had been hauled away on the first day. The annual ban, meant to make it easier to plow and salt snow-covered roads, is in place from Dec. 1 to April 1 between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m.

“It’s bullcrap,” said Baseemah Dear, 36, who lives on Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park. “I parked at 4 a.m. this morning and they towed my car 10 minutes later.”

The cost of getting her car out of the city tow yard at 701 N. Sacramento Ave. was $165, she said while waiting in line to pay. The city’s other tow yard is located on the Far South Side at 10301 S. Doty Ave.

One factor that particularly irked 22-year-old Beth Reinstein was that the ban, which covers 107 miles of city streets, is enforced even if there is no snow.

Reinstein said she parked last night with the understanding that she would be in the clear because parking is free on Sunday. Instead, she woke up to find her vehicle missing.

“It’s pretty stupid because there is no snow on the ground,” said Reinstein, who lives in Rogers Park, but stayed in Logan Square on Saturday night.

For the amount she had to pay the city to get her vehicle back, she said the tow-yard employees ought to offer, “valet with champagne and caviar.”

Both Dear and Reinstein were just two of the many drivers standing in line, waiting to retrieve their cars from the yard on Sunday afternoon.

Dear said a small army of tow trucks descended on Wicker Park early Sunday and towed away the cars of many clubgoers who were still enjoying late weekend bar hours.

“What distinguishes what side of town they tow from?” Dear said. She said her aunt lives in a part of the Austin neighborhood where winter towing is enforced. “They never tow over there.”

The city towed 301 cars the first night last year and 215 vehicles in 2011, said Molly Poppe, spokeswoman for the Department of Streets and Sanitation.

“That’s about how many we usually tow the first night”of the ban, Poppe said.

If you ignore the ban, you could get a $60 ticket, plus $150 or more for towing and a $20 fee for every day the car is held.

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