Oak Park hasn't earned its name "No Park" for no reason. I've spent the majority of my life living in the Oak Park area and have found the parking situation unacceptable. The reason I have not confronted or challenged this issue previously was the fact that I had always been a renter till this year. As a renter, I was never made to feel like I was a true resident, so I just accepted the situation, as I believe most renters do.
My problems with parking run the gamut from being booted on Christmas morning, despite the village not taking call-ins due to the holiday, to receiving multiple parking tickets on a private parking pad. The village of Oak Park has made me feel over that time like it was some sort of privilege to park and live in this town.
Oak Park has taken pride for many years in the fact that they are a diverse community. However, they are in direct violation with their own diversity statement when it comes to the parking situation. There is a class barrier as well as a marital barrier when it comes to parking. To live in Oak Park as a single person means I can only have a significant other spend the night five times in one year, which is ridiculous.
It has also been my experience that if one does not work a typical workday, the parking situation is against them — 24 hour parking can only be found blocks and blocks away from where you live and you have no choice but to walk alone at night. It makes you feel like you're not wanted in this community.
When I have to pay to be able to utilize most of Oak Park's amenities, it makes me want to choose to go elsewhere. They're not really worried about other people coming in from other communities; they are more worried about the loss of revenue. Do we not pay property taxes through the roof? Are we not entitled to have parking as part of our property tax and payment for street maintenance and upkeep as well as police? Couldn't the time and money spent on the meter maids be better used to develop the community and make it more welcoming?
All residents should have a voice in this community regarding parking. Whether you're a property owner or a family member living in Oak Park, make your voice heard now. The Oak Park/No Park situation has to end now.
Challenge the officials to look at the diversity statement and challenge them to find a parking situation that is acceptable to all residents.