When it comes to parking in Oak Park, residents of single-family homes typically enjoy the benefits of a driveway and or garage which allow for off-street parking for cars. Residents of multi-family buildings don’t always have the added amenity of parking, and finding a spot can be a headache.
It’s a topic talked about so much that it’s earned the village of Oak Park a nickname: No Park.
In spite of the village’s reputation as a place where off-street parking is hard to find and on-street parking often results in a parking ticket, residents of multifamily buildings have a lot of options when it comes to parking.
The village of Oak Park administers parking in 94 off-street lots as well as in four village-owned garages. In addition, there are 17 on-street overnight parking zones. Residents can find a number of options from 24-hour parking to day and night permits for a variety of spots.
The four garages owned by the village are Holley Court, The Avenue, Lake and Forest and the Oak Park and River Forest High School garage. Sean Keane, parking and mobility services manager for the village, says that the garages offer day, night or 24-hour permits, with prices for residents ranging from $162 to $267 per quarter.
“Garage parking is quick, easy and reliable,” Keane said. “We have good capacity at all of our garages right now.”
Non-residents can also apply for garage permits. While they will have to pay slightly elevated rates, Keane says it’s a good option for visitors.
Off-street lot parking is also available to residents and non-residents. Depending on the demand in the area, quarterly pricing for residents starts at $152 for an overnight permit in a lower demand area and can go as high as $257 for a 24-hour permit in a high-demand area.
Keane says that all permits are renewable on a quarterly basis and “helps people avoid long-term commitments.”
If someone moves during the quarter, he says the village offers pro-rated refunds after move, but does not offer a pro-rated payment plan if you anticipate moving during a period.
On-street parking remains the cheapest option because it does not involve a designated space for each car. If you are a resident of one of the 17 zones, you can apply for an overnight parking pass to be allowed to park in the zone, on the street from 2:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Nighttime on-street permits run $117 to 137 per quarter, depending on whether the zone is low, medium or high demand.
The village has been trying to make the parking process easier for residents, who can now do most parking-related business, including purchasing permits online.
Residents who need an overnight pass for their car or for a visitor’s can download the Passport Parking app, enter a zone number and license plate information and ensure that their car is not ticketed.
In addition, the village recently changed its parking permit process to do away with the need for annual stickers.
“All of our permits and passes, as well as our annual vehicle licenses, are enforced through license plate recognition,” Keane said. “They can be scanned through a drive-by process, which streamlines enforcement.”
Keane notes that a 2019 Parking Pilot program that lasted almost two years is currently under review by the Transportation Committee. The pilot program looked at changing a number of elements of the current system, including standardizing daytime parking limits and extending meter hours.
In general, Keane says that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the village has seen increased demand for residential parking, which he thinks could be due to the “work from home effect.” On the other hand, lots used by businesses and the garages have not been nearly as busy as fewer people are going to work outside of their homes.
Oak Park also has a robust private market for parking spaces. Iris Sherman has rented out a parking space at her southwest Oak Park home for the past 10 to 15 years, and recently posted on Oak Park’s Mom Mail, offering the space to rent for $50 a month.
She says she is aware that parking in Oak Park can be challenging, so she decided to rent out her extra space. She calls the extra money a bonus and notes that while she could probably charge more for the spot, she prefers to keep it rented year-round, so she has kept her rent at roughly the same rate every year.
Sherman uses Mom Mail and apps such as Next Door, as well as the village’s parking list to keep her space rented. Despite her location near the CTA’s Blue Line, her spot draws Oak Park residents without enough parking rather than commuters looking to park near the train.
Tom Carraher, real estate broker with Gagliardo Group/Compass, says that for those looking for a permanent spot to call their own, “A rule of thumb in our market has been to value a covered garage space between $15,000 and $20,000, and an exterior space between $7,500 and $10,000.”
Carraher added that is an exterior space is located in an area where that kind of parking is especially tight – for example at the Santa Maria condos near Scoville Park, “That could even push the value higher.”
Unlike Chicago, it is rare to see a parking space for sale with no attached property in Oak Park. One standalone parking spot available for sale now in Oak Park at 222 Washington Blvd. is listed at $15,000, but listing realtor Steve Cotsirilos is quick to point out that due to deed restrictions, the spot must be sold to an owner in the building.
His client purchased the spot at a tax sale, after taxes and assessments went unpaid for years. He notes that his client is experienced in buying and selling such spots.
“The price is in part based on market rate and in part based on costs — what they have in it,” Cotsirilos said.
He adds that in a traditional condo market, having a dedicated parking spot would give a seller a competitive edge, noting that no one wants to trudge blocks through the snow with their groceries.
Carraher agrees that the value can be subjective.
“What is harder to gauge is how many would-be buyers completely stay away from properties without dedicated parking,” Carraher said. “Not everyone wants to deal with fighting for a parking space, especially in the winter months, even if that permit street parking is close by.
“I had a client pre-pay a parking spot in the alley behind their unit to make the condo more saleable. They were one of only a couple of units that didn’t have a parking space. This is Oak Park; you need to get creative sometimes.”