Here's your overnight parking solution

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Here in Oak Park we perceive that we have an overnight parking ban. No parking on the street between 2:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. "That's the law, always has been." "You have a garage, don't you?!" "Good for plowing snow." "Good for leaf pick-up." "Keeps us safe from West Side hooligans who like nothing better than to spend their nights hiding between parked cars." "Makes us a suburb, not like a city neighborhood."

That's what we say when we aren't kvetching about the $30 tickets when you fall asleep on the couch and forget to put the car away, when your not-favorite aunt visits and you have to find that damned number and hang on the line for 10 minutes to get an operator, when your daughter visits for the sixth night of the calendar year and her license plate sets off alarms and a terse permit decline.

Or when we homeowners notice that we're putting our cars away but there are still cars parking in front of our places with night parking permits that spill over from the nearby courtyard building. Or when our neighbors in those nearby apartments really hit low and say, "For a bunch of purported progressives, you sure get off on discriminating against people who can only afford an apartment."

That would lead to the more truthful statement that Oak Park has a partial ban on overnight parking — or, as one of the many, many commenters over at OakPark.com put it, we have an "overprocessed nighttime parking system."

That's about right. There are way too many cars clogging up the busy streets every night to still claim we ban parking in the dark hours. But till now, village government has had this queer fear about calling it anything other than an outright ban. Make too many exceptions, went the party line, and some boogeyman was going to take the town to court and eradicate the whole thing.

Have never understood what entity would care enough to bring down a partial overnight parking ban. Who is coming for us? The ACLU?

This all comes up right now for the same reason most things are coming up in Oak Park. The new village president, Anan Abu-Taleb, wants to shake out the cobwebs and he keeps hearing from the disgruntled, and not the gruntled, about all the annoyances created by the permanently porous overnight parking ban.

And this being Oak Park, where we live to refer issues to commissions for holistic study, there is this inclination to ask the Parking and Traffic Commission to undertake a thoroughgoing review.

But here's a better idea:

Read the comments on our website. You'll have a pretty good idea of what people like about our not-really-a-ban and what ticks them off. Make a list and hand it to Cara Pavlicek, the current village manager and former parking department chieftain, and ask her to come back in 30 days with appropriate fixes and a budget necessary to accomplish same. Proceed.

Here's the list: No one wants to call the parking hotline every time they need an overnight pass. Even though the lady who answers the phone is an absolute peach, no one wants to wait 10 minutes to talk to her. Buy, borrow or create an online and mobile solution stat. Who the hell ever said five permits a year or you're a criminal? Make it 10, make it 20, make it 30. My sister, the nun, visits about two nights a month from Naperville. Make it 24. I'll buy a packet of passes at Jewel when I buy yard waste stickers.

Go that far. Do it fast. Everyone will cheer.

Contact:
Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

Reader Comments

14 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Sam from Bolingbrook  

Posted: December 11th, 2013 1:51 AM

I will be moving to an apartment in Oak Park very soon. There are no available parking spaces to me other than on the street. If I cannot park near my home then I cannot live here. How else will I get to my source of income other than with my car? (Train is not an option). If the issue is about safety then lets put more police and neighborhood watches on the street. Or is that too common sense?

Scott from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2013 2:06 PM

Overnight parking ban needs to go along with all the special zones...Y5, Y4, K5. And while the overnight ban is still in place, there should absolutely be a web application to "call in" for an overnight pass. They should also sell blank passes like Chicago. Just not a lot of forward thinking.

June from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2013 10:26 AM

I can never find parking in front of my house, day or night & it's extremely frustrating. I usually double park but then that peeves other drivers. No easy solution.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2013 1:51 AM

@Dan, Wouldn't being able to "call in" online cut administrative costs? I'm not exactly sure how a phone call costs $40, but I'd think that a web app would be less expensive.

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: September 12th, 2013 12:01 AM

I wanted to add that the alternate side parking reduced the costs of government by eliminating all the administrative costs of overnight parking bans or administering parking permits. For example, every call to the police in River Forest to get an overnight permit cost the taxpayers over $40 in 2010 (as does every call to the Dispatch Center, emergency or not). Reduce bureaucracy and you reduce the cost of governing and make life simpler. Government should simplify our lives, not complicate them

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 11:57 PM

When I was Senior Planner for Oak Park, the police chief candidly admitted in public that the parking ban did not help law enforcement. There's no rational reason for it in OP or River Forest, but especially in OP where the multifamily buildings really need street parking. Just do like we did in Evanston -- alternate side of the street overnight parking -- allows for street cleaning and plowing and prevents abandoned vehicles. And it worked just fine in the 18 years I lived in southeast Evanston

Brian from Oak Park  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 4:36 PM

A simple web application to collect the same data currently collected via the phone calls would be all it would take. Something extremely simple and stripped down would take 3 to 4 weeks worth of work. Run the phone and web app in parallel for 6 months to weed out all the bugs and then phase out the phone service (I'll miss talking to her as well). Everytime I call I wonder why it hasn't been done yet.

Village of No Park from Oak Park  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 3:24 PM

Remember the WJ readship survey from a few years back? Winning What do you like most about Oak Park? included the overnight parking ban. What do you least? included.... the overnight parking ban. You'll never please all the people all the time, especially when it comes to parking in the Village of No Park, Illinois.

Crazy from Joke Park  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 2:40 PM

Be careful what you wish for! Drive down the streets of Elmwood Park. Cars on both sides. Difficult to manuever. How can you tell if the car is stolen or abandoned? Why is your solution better than mine? I like not having cars all over the street.

muntz  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 12:23 PM

I think one of the first problems to tackle is the number of different passes -overnight, day, extended, guest - each with different day/time restrictions. Just make one pass and be done with it. But any plan should align with an overall parking plan for the village. I like the idea of the mobile/web app. Perhaps charge a fee for over X amount of permits and tie these charges to a homeowners' utility bill (although this might be tricky with rentals).

Rob Breymaier from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 11:36 AM

Dan, I think this is a pretty decent solution. Another possibility. How about permit parking like in Chicago where residents of a street could have the option to buy annual permits to park on their street (maybe with some expansion considerations for streets with apartments and condos). It would allow for overnight parking without the concern that a street might get overcrowded. And, it would generate revenue by charging for the overnight pass. The Chicago policy also allows residents to buy guest passes and does not set a limit. We need to use them when we visit friends and family in Chicago.

Jim from Oak Park  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 7:50 AM

Dead on! I, too, read every comment and agree your proposal answers the majority of "beefs." I hope the political system within the Republic of Oak Park embraces a simple, straightforward solution.

Michael  

Posted: September 10th, 2013 11:49 PM

I live within walking distance of both city parking garages but you are not allowed to even park there overnight. Why?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 10th, 2013 10:15 PM

Love your fire, and agree with your solution!

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