http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0702060129feb06,1,7954855.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Dear Everyone,

The link above is to an article that quotes transportation committee members regarding potential controversial changes to the current Oak Park parking ban. The predisposition of these committee members towards lifting the ban is as obvious in the article as it was at the meeting.

I was astounded most specifically by committee Chair Sonny Ginsberg and his obvious slant towards the inevitability of making parking ban changes. Several times committee member input that might detract from lifting or easing the ban was put off as emotional or unhelpful in framing the public forum for discussing the issue.

After a very brief and somewhat useless description of survey data related to the six options, Mr. Ginsberg wanted mention of how the survey might be flawed to be excluded from all public discussion. Interesting, since leaving the ban in place was not clearly listed as one of the six options. Also suspicious was his dismissal of any discussion of the validity in the way questions were framed, presented, or how the opinions expressed might be related to geographic/demographic data.

Despite Mr. Ginsberg’s efforts, committee members did interject some significant points:

Kazuya Kawamura tried to actually find something useful in the survey data by asking for reports to relate survey responses to demographic information. I was appalled when he was dismissed as “looking at the data like a professor” cutting short any discussion of identifying who wants the ban lifted or where they may live (multifamily/single family).

Mary Ann Shiffer made an outstanding suggestion that there be an examination of availability vs. need/desire. When discussing changing the ban, should we try to assess parking capacity within two blocks of the majority of housing units clamoring for parking relief? Sounds logical. However, Mr. Ginsberg dismissed this as a philosophical argument not worthy of consideration.

Based on comments stemming from the survey (not released at the meeting) Paul Aeschleman suggested the majority of people wishing to drop or amend the existing ban could be appeased by simply adjusting the number of overnight permits allowed for a single license plate per year. Not a survey option.

Also based on survey respondent comments, Aeschleman described the need to educate the public regarding costs of maintaining the ban. Apparently many respondents were disgruntled with the parking ban, feeling it was used by the city to generate revenue. This is definitely not the case as the city actually may be losing money enforcing the ban. Another good point Ginsberg dismissed as “not cutting in either direction.”

Parking spaces have already been located in just about all places possible to accommodate multifamily dwellings. Unfairly expanding parking permit spaces on streets with single family homes will significantly impact the aesthetics of our suburban, tree-lined streets, not to mention the property values in the associated areas. It is for this reason that I strongly disagree with Mr. Carollo, quoted in the Tribune article: “This isn’t Narnia,” he said. “If you want to find Big Sky country, that’s 30 miles west. It’s called Kane and McHenry counties.”

We did not select Oak Park because it is just like living in densely parked Chicago. No, this is not Narnia or Big Sky country but it is also not Lincoln “No” Park, Wrigleyville, or any other densely automobile-congested section of Chicago. Nor should we want it to be. I suggest if he needs to park multiple automobiles in front of his residence he should find a Kane or McHenry county home with a big, circular driveway.

Cynthia Quinn
Oak Park

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