Oak Park survey: Parking in village is crummy

Sixty-four percent of residents say parking is a problem

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Park is a great place to live and raise a family, but it doesn't come cheap, and parking in the village is still a major concern, according to the results of a survey conducted last year by the village.

Eighty-nine percent of the 417 Oak Park residents who returned the survey say the village has an excellent or good quality of life, and 92 percent said it is a good place to raise children.

Fifty-seven percent said the village is an excellent or good place to retire, which seems to be connected to the perception of availability of affordable housing in general. Only 37 percent of respondents believe affordable housing is excellent or good.

"[The 57 percent figure is] kind of a low number," Rob Cole, assistant village manager, said during a presentation to the village board on Monday. "There's a corollary to that: many of the citizens who participated in this year's survey found that there's an absence of quality affordable housing."

He suggested that their concerns over affordable housing could be a combination of the price and level of taxation in the village.

Displeasure with parking in the village remained steady, with 37 percent reporting that parking is satisfactory, up two percentage points from the 2011 results — the last year the survey was conducted. 

In a separate question, 64 percent of respondents said parking is a moderate or major problem.

"We have eased parking and created more parking overnight, but I think as we go forward, we should continue to look at our policies and figure out how to ease parking on our residents and how to make it more friendly," said Village President Anan Abu-Taleb.

Residents said public safety was of less concern, with 94 percent saying they feel safe in their neighborhood during the day. That number dropped to 69 percent after dark.

Only 49 percent felt safe from property crimes such as burglary and theft, and 59 percent said crime in general is a moderate to major problem.

The survey cost the village about $10,000 and was conducted by the National Research Center in Boulder, Co. 

Survey results are available on the village website at http://tinyurl.com/kymbyqh.

Email: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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OP Transplant  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 4:16 PM

Progressive - I'm guessing from that last post that you're pretty much out of ideas. That's often when wiser people stop talking.

Progressive from Oak Park  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 3:57 PM

I love seeing the true feelings of so-called "liberal" Oak Parkers. At least conservative suburbanites are open and don't try to hide behind this mask of caring for the poor like many Oak Parkers do. "If they weren't so dang poor, they would deserve to live in a safe area with nice schools like us Limousine Liberals!"

OP Transplant  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 3:47 PM

OP Res - I agree. Parking is expensive. So is insurance, gas, maintenance...cars are expensive in general. But there are options. Some people choose not have cars because of the expense. Some people choose to live in communities where the expenses are lower. I can afford to live in OP and drive a Honda. I can't afford to live in Hinsdale and drive a Porsche. Is it up to Hinsdale to do something about that?

OP Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 3:31 PM

I agree that rentals have high taxes/square foot. But sq footage is generally much lower, as is total tax expense to the renter. I have to construct, maintain, insure and pay taxes for my garage. Why should your car storage be free? Really, I want to understand this. If parking was free for renters, there would be lots more cars. Where would they go? Tax financed lots when you complain poor people have nowhere to park. If you can't afford to park, you can't afford a car.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 2:23 PM

@Apt Owner: Whether you "use" the services or not, you still benefit from them. The quality of life living in a town with good schools, nice parks, three libraries, etc. is a benefit to all the residents.

Apartment Owner from Oak Park  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 2:05 PM

@ OPDad: If you don't think that apartment renters (via their rent) don't pay a huge amount of taxes, your sadly mistaken. Taxes on apartment buildings is just as outrageous if not more so than on the single family homes. And do renters get the same services? Not by a long shot. Most renters are younger, with fewer kids. They use the schools, parks, library etc. much less. If it weren't for the apartments your taxes would be even higher. To keep good tenants you need to have some sort of parking

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 2:02 PM

Enough with trying to tack on the cost of parking to one's property taxes. Even if you did, the argument makes no sense--a detached-house owner paying $15K in taxes as opposed to a renter paying $3K, is already paying 400% more for the SAME services in town. Even if someone pays 100 bucks a month for parking, they are still getting a deal to live in this town. The benefits of living in Oak Park extend outside the four walls of one's home.

OP Transplant  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 1:54 PM

Progressive - I don't the cost of parking is regressive "by definition", because no one has to pay it. If you choose to live in Oak Park, and you choose a residence that doesn't have off-street parking, and you choose to own a car, then you have to pay the parking fees. By your argument, the cost of food at Jewel is also a regressive tax, since it also takes a higher percentage of lower incomes than higher incomes. Any expense is a regressive tax, by your definition.

Progressive from Oak Park  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 1:24 PM

It's regressive basically by definition: It takes a higher percentage of lower incomes than higher incomes. Renters still have to pay property taxes as well, as the landlord simply factors that into the rent payments.

June from Oak Park  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 11:29 AM

Was this survey really worth the $10,000 cost?

OP Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 9:17 AM

@progressive, how is the parking fee regressive. Lower income residents pay less to live in the village, but utilize all the roadway amenities, contribute to congestion, and put wear on the infrastructure. I don't expect anyone to have to buy and pay taxes on a home with a garage, but a contribution certainly should be made if one is keeping a car in the village.


Posted: May 14th, 2014 9:10 AM

Parking for renters is a huge issue, I pay $115 per 4 months per car for a pass and another $50 a year per car sticker, couple that with the fact that snow removal is so poor that both of my cars were damaged this winter and the only response from Oak park was that the village is "not responsible for snow removal" makes me wonder where this money is going

Progressive from Oak Park  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 8:40 AM

For a village that is supposed to be progressive, Oak Park's parking policies are essentially a regressive tax. Renters, who are typically lower income are the ones stuck paying outrageous quarterly parking fees, since most apartments do not have their own parking lots, while the typically well-off home owners enjoy free parking in their garages and driveways (often times partially blocking the sidewalks.)


Posted: May 14th, 2014 7:53 AM

Don't like the parking? Move or buy a house and pay the crazy taxes. No sympathy here.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 13th, 2014 10:59 PM

@Superdooper, How is doing things online and with a credit card discriminatory towards low-income residents? There is plenty of free computer access at the library, and anyone can buy a pre-paid credit card at a local drugstore.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 13th, 2014 10:55 PM

@OP Parker, did you have a special arrangement with the Village to have gotten 35 free nights per license plate number? The standard was only five per license plate per year. And it was changed to three per plate per month, with a (new) option to buy more at $7/each. And, as before, it's per license plate, not per address.

Superdooper from Oak Park  

Posted: May 13th, 2014 10:41 PM

Another fun fact. You have to use your credit card even to register for the free parking. Employees continue to lose their jobs to be replaced by technology which is not always more efficient.

Sooperdooper from Oak Park  

Posted: May 13th, 2014 10:33 PM

Soon for overnight parking passes,a computer and a credit card will be required. another indication that of lower income people are not welcome in this town. Two jobs lost and a parking dept, running with a skeleton crew

OakPark Parker  

Posted: May 13th, 2014 10:29 PM

How has parking been eased? I was able to get 35 free nights of parking before. Now I get 36 nights free. If I need more I have to pay $7 per night or $49 per month more per vehicle. Why? If you have a large family and a lot of visitors that is a huge expense.

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