The Oak Park Transportation Commission will recommend a passel of overnight parking changes to the village board, but agreed at a meeting Monday night that the overnight ban needs to remain in effect.

Recommended changes include increasing the number of temporary overnight passes, expanding overnight parking zones to include streets by parks, and making it easier to park in village lots and garages overnight without a permit.

The changes will be reviewed by the village’s legal department before being heard by the village board, which is expected in June. The village board has final say over any proposed changes.

Two residents of the Santa Maria Condominiums on Oak Park Avenue at Erie Street urged the board to increase the number of temporary passes to give some quick relief to on-street overnight parkers.

“Please, please put an urgent recommendation to the board to immediately increase the number of passes,” said Kate Susmilch, of the 200 block of North Oak Park Avenue.

Sonny Ginsberg, chair of the Transportation Commission, explained that making changes to the village’s overnight parking ban has legal ramifications. Restricting on-street overnight parking requires a public purpose, which has been defined as improving safety in residential neighborhoods. Any changes to allow overnight parking could chip away at the ban’s legal standing, he said.

But under the recommended plan, the number of temporary parking passes won’t increase; they will just become more accessible, creating a de facto increase for most people who use the passes as a supplement to paid overnight permits.

Every car, whether it is registered to an Oak Park resident or not, has access to 35 temporary overnight passes a year, said Parking Services Manager Alva Johnson. Five of the passes are single-night passes, which are used by calling one’s car in from 8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. the night the pass is used. The other 30 are extended passes, needing to be used at least three nights at a time, and have to be called in during the day.

But parkers like Susmilch, who pay for on-street overnight permits and use their temporary passes when they can’t find a space in designated areas, don’t know when they will need an overnight pass until the evening.

The commission will recommend making all of the 35 passes available as single-night or extended passes, and will recommend that the passes may be called in throughout the day until 2:30 a.m. The call-in service will also be studied to ensure passes are being granted properly, if the recommendation is approved.

Ginsberg asked whether the change would “flood the streets” with overnight on-street parkers, but most agreed with Commissioner Paul Aeschleman, who said, “I don’t think we will see a dramatic increase.”

The total is in line with nearby communities. In River Forest, overnight parkers get three permits every 30 days, or roughly 36 per year. Forest Park allows five permits every 30 days.

Temporary passes may be used to park on any residential street overnight.

But new on-street overnight parking will also be found near parks, the Cheney Mansion and on streets fronting other public properties if the recommendations are approved. And the commission will recommend studying the village to find potential areas to expand the parking supply.


Other recommendations include:

  • Finding long-term parking areas for people who don’t use their cars every day or for on-street overnight parkers when they vacation. “Just like when you go on vacation and find a kennel space for your pet, you should be able to find a “kennel” space for your car,” said Commissioner Mary Shiffer.
  • Requiring valet parking companies to use village garages.
  • Improving communication with would-be residents about parking availability and restrictions and their responsibility for finding their own parking. “That communication is lacking and needs to get a lot better,” said Commissioner Rich Carollo, who said he knew about it firsthand.
  • Imposing impact fees on developers and condo converters who don’t provide adequate off-street parking.
  • Improving enforcement of parking in overnight permit areas. “Enforcement is so critical if this is going to work,” Commissioner Jack Chalabian said.
  • Creating and “aggressively publicizing” a fee-based classified service where parkers could find owners of private parking spaces.
  • Asking I-GO to expand its shared car program to areas rich in multifamily buildings, such as along Washington Boulevard.
  • Imposing a multiple car tax and a weight-based tax on vehicles.
  • Creating a marketing campaign to promote walking, biking and other alternative forms of transportation. “We can’t change behavior without education,” Aeschleman said.

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