Earlier this month, my father and I received tickets for parking on the street overnight. I challenged these tickets because the two streets on which we were parked had no signs restricting overnight parking. But as you might guess, I was found liable because of signs posted at street entrances to the Village of Oak Park.

I went to view them and found that the sign at Austin and Lake, where my family typically enters the village, is about 15 feet high and faded. I assume that the village expects visitors to notice and read these signs as they enter. Is it really reasonable to think that a person would do this? Is it safe to ask drivers to take their eyes off the road to read signs about parking posted in areas where they have no intention to park? Or is it more reasonable to think that individuals might read the signs posted on the streets they wish to park and assume that those signs convey all of the restrictions for that street?

As a resident I usually park behind my house, and thus have had no reason to know of this blanket restriction. I was unable to do so on this night because I had mulch delivered, and it was in the spot I usually park in. Since receiving these tickets, I have learned that I could call the village and get an overnight pass. This is not posted anywhere I can find other than the village Web site. It is not on the signs at the village entrance, nor is it on the signs posted on the two streets where the tickets were received. How is one to know that this is an option? Does the village expect visitors to log on to the Web site? Wouldn’t it be more reasonable for the village to expect that people will read the signs posted on the streets they wish to park and conclude that those signs convey all of the necessary information? If the signs had said “no overnight parking,” how would a person know that overnight parking is allowed if you call your car in?

I phoned the office of adjudication to get a more detailed explanation and was told a federal law allowed the village to post signs on the parameter to inform individuals of this restriction. While I am sure that some law does – whether it be federal, state or local – the individual on the phone could not provide me with a place where I could look the law up. If individuals working for the village are going to say things like this over the phone, wouldn’t it be nice for them to provide a citation, so it does not appear to the caller that the employee is simply trying to dissuade him or her from asking any further questions?

Again, while I am sure the village is within its right to post signs in this manner, to me it is simply an underhanded way to generate revenue. Fortunately for me, I am able to move, and I am choosing to less than three years after moving into Oak Park.

Matt Keeler, a three-year Oak Park resident, works for the Government Accountability Office and is moving to Atlanta, which he says isn’t solely because of his parking ticket.

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