The Parking Meter Fiasco

Mike, “The Parking Meter Geek,” who maintains website interviews Jay about how Chicago taxpayers lost billions of dollars in parking meter revenue.

Chicago Lost One Billion Dollars or More in Revenue

Daley sold the rights to Chicago’s parking meters for $1.15 billion. Most American cities would consider $1.15 billion a financial bonanza, but the critics of the Chicago parking meter deal strongly disagree. Chicago’s Inspector General’s office said the Daley administration undervalued the parking asset by $1 billion.

Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd) estimated the city will lose from $2 to $5 billion in revenue during the 75-year parking meter lease. According to the inspector general and Waguespack’s estimates, the Daley administration undervalued the Chicago parking meter lease by 53% to 76%.

There is one man responsible for the parking meter fiasco. Richard M. Daley secretly put the parking meter deal together and forced the City Council to pass it before anyone else had a chance to scrutinize his financial figures. Daley only allowed aldermen a few days to review the complex parking meter deal before they were required to approve it.

The mayor pushed the parking meter contract through the City Council in Dec., 2008, hoping you, the voter, would forget about the lousy financial deal and adjust to the higher parking fees before the Feb., 2011, election. If Daley is making you pay at the pay-to-park boxes, it’s only fair that you make Daley pay at the polls.

Every year from 2008 to 2013 you will pay more to park. In addition to five straight years of parking fee increases, the hours that you are required to pay for parking have been extended. Some meters now require users to pay 24 hours a day. The parking meter revenue stream is basic economics. The more money you pay to park, the more the parking meter company’s profits increase.

According to Chicago Parking Meters LLC’s financial projections, the company expects to earn $46.94 million in 2009 and $79.54 million in 2010. Since the deal includes substantial parking rate increases from 2011 through 2013, the parking meter company’s profits are contractually guaranteed to soar.

There is still hope that the parking meter deal will come undone. The IVI-IPO organization filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the parking meter contract. The IVI-IPO claims the city does not have the right to lease its streets.

When Daley rammed the parking meter deal through the City Council, he didn’t tell you that he planned to allow Chicago Parking Meters LLC to write parking tickets. Daley waited until after the parking meter furor died down before he revealed that he gave the right to issue parking tickets to a private firm.

Past, Present, and Future Parking Meter Rates


2008 = $3.00/hour

2009 = $3.50

2010 = $4.25

2011 = $5.00

2012 = $5.75

2013 = $6.50

Non-Loop/Central Business District

2008 = $1.00/hour

2009 = $2.00

2010 = $2.50

2011 = $3.00

2012 = $3.50

2013 = $4.00


2008 = 25 cents to 75 cents/hour

2009 = $1.00

2010 = $1.25

2011 = $1.50

2012 = $1.75

2013 = $2.00

Stone’s Idea for Parking Fairness

During lunch one day Jay Stone and his sister couldn’t remember how much time remained before their parking receipt expired. Instead of continuing to talk, Stone and his sister returned to their car to avoid a ticket. One of Stone’s clients was not so lucky. The client received a parking ticket after getting to his car just two minutes after his time limit expired.

To answer the “When does my parking time expire?” question, Stone proposed a simple and practical solution. Program the parking pay boxes to dispense two receipts. The driver places one receipt on the dashboard as is required now. The dashboard receipt shows parking enforcement officers that you have paid for your parking. You take the second receipt with you so that you know how much time you have before your parking right expires.

Stone wrote to his father, Alderman Bernard Stone, and Alderman Scott Waguespack, presenting his idea for a second parking receipt. Both aldermen in turn wrote to the company who is leasing Chicago’s parking meters. In typical Daleyesque fashion, neither alderman received a response.

Shortly after the two aldermen forwarded the younger Stone’s idea for two parking receipts to the company in charge of Chicago’s parking meters, the Daley administration offered a one vehicle per one calendar year amnesty for parking tickets issued within five minutes of the pay box receipt time limit. Not surprisingly, the parking meter 5-minute grace period will end shortly after the 2011 mayoral election. Instituting a five-minute parking ticket grace period is an admission by the city that there is something wrong with the parking receipt system.

Stone’s recommendation of dispensing two parking receipts would prevent people from getting tickets because they don’t know what time their parking privilege expires. Stone says the two receipts are only a matter of fairness. If pay boxes dispense one receipt for viewing by parking enforcement officers, it is only fair that the boxes dispense a second receipt for drivers to take with them as a reminder of when their parking time will expire.