We admit it. We’ve always considered tinkering with Oak Park’s overnight ban on street parking the third rail of local politics. Easier to build a high-rise than mess with the parking ban. Safer to propose a bonus indoor swimming pool than allow strangers to park their car in front of someone else’s single-family home.
We took seriously the claim of the retired longtime village attorney who warned that adding exceptions to an outright ban on overnight street parking was a sure way to get hauled into court and have the ban declared illegal.
Well maybe we were wrong.
Oak Park officials, vexed by the perpetual shortage of parking spaces for apartment and condo owners, having exhausted every “parking enclave” euphemism for really just selectively loosening the ban, are listening to a proposal to effectively turn side streets into overnight parking spaces throughout the village.
Yes, as proposed, this is a pilot program covering maybe one quarter of the village for nine months. Yes, one option in the proposal would be an odd-even alternating system to keep one side of the street open for snow plowing and leaf removal. Yes, it is still possible that comatose homeowners, cars snug in their garages, will rebel if this proposal is put in place and an unfamiliar Nissan takes up regular residence at the front door.
But at a well-publicized public meeting of the Transportation Commission last week, not a peep was heard from any homeowner declaring proprietary ownership of the asphalt at the foot of their sidewalk. Instead the strongly attended meeting heard from car owners who found the odd-even system too restrictive.
The proposed changes to the overnight ban are one response to the broader charge to the Transportation Commission and its consultant to simplify parking regulations across the village, to put an end to light poles with four incomprehensible instructions on if, when and for how long you might put your car at rest.
A worthy goal — if you don’t get electrocuted.