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City Responds To Your Parking Gripes - Part 1

Evanston officials tackle some of your biggest parking hassles, and reveal that the city is about to release a request for proposals to install meters that accept credit cards.

In response to two recent columns,  and , city officials Rickey Voss (Division Manager, Parking & Revenue) and Marty Lyons (Assistant City Manager / Chief Financial Officer) addressed readers’ questions and concerns about parking issues around town. 

“In a densely populated community like Evanston, parking is a service and a resource that always takes monitoring, management and adjustments based on the needs of the total community,” Lyons wrote in his e-mail. He also passed along some information posted on the city website about the Church and Dodge. This link explains, among other projects, the Church and Dodge modifications, while this link details the plans (including visuals).

A note to readers—I have edited the questions, concerns and answers for length, grammar, spelling and clarity. Here’s the first half of the city’s responses to readers; please check back tomorrow for the rest.

Q&A With The City of Evanston On Parking - Part 1

Q: How much revenue does the city bring in per year on parking meters?

A: The City averages about $2.5 million a year over the past 3 years for parking meter revenue. This takes into consideration the shortened (10 month) fiscal year for 2011.

Q: I have an Evanston sticker that I paid for, I have my 7 beach passes that I paid for, and now I am ticketed in my own district for parking at the beach if I stay more than two hours? (Parking is restricted to two hours for anyone without a residential permit near Lighthouse Beach). How about an Evanston parking pass that is issued with your tokens, allowing you to park an extended time in any beach area?

A: Residential Permit Districts are created based on requests from the residents and the results of parking surveys that are conducted to determine if the area qualifies. The area adjacent to Lighthouse Beach is regulated in part by the over-parking by students from NU but also by hospital staff, commuters, summer guests and summer students from NU. It is still a problem during the summer months. Part of the duties assigned to Parking Enforcement is to insure that the regulations are followed. Any suggested modifications in the district’s restrictions would have to be considered by the ward Alderman and the very residents that would be affected and depending on the change, approved by the Transportation and Parking Committee and/or City Council.

Q: “ I haven't fed a parking meter in Evanston in years, except when I feed the expired meter of another person's car just for the pleasure of foiling the parking Nazis…The enforcers, in my experience, sometimes act like rude little martinets; they should keep in mind that the people they're stalking and sometimes harassing do things like vote in referendums on issues like funding of public pensions.”

A: The City of Evanston has many of the same issues as any mid- to large-sized metropolitan area. Parking programs are designed to regulate parking and traffic flow to insure that customer turnover, over parking by business employees, students and commuters does not adversely affect the business districts and residential neighborhoods within the city. Parking turnover in the business districts is extremely critical to the success of any business.

The reference to Parking Enforcement Officers as “Nazis” is both demeaning and unacceptable. These important members of City staff contribute to the overall operations of the city. While their primary function is parking enforcement, they also aid the police in traffic control, special events, snow removal, disaster assistance (high wind storms, etc) and act as substitutes for school crossing guards and other duties as assigned that are not parking enforcement related.

There is a complaint process if a resident feels that a Parking Enforcement Officer is anything but professional.  Please dial 311 for immediate service.  If used correctly management staff can work on taking the appropriate action to correct behavior. The City encourages anyone who has a complaint as to the professionalism or inappropriate behavior of an enforcement officer.

Q: Why can’t Evanston add credit card readers and set prices to market rates?

A: We have discussed variable rates based on occupancy but have focused the discussion on the three (3) downtown parking garages. The City is about to release a Request for Proposal to upgrade all city meters to accept credit cards. The request will be to develop a citywide replacement program that will include a combination of different meter technologies such as single space credit card/coin meters, pay-by-space and pay-and-display.

Knowing it would take some time to implement the program, the meters have been programmed to accept $1 coins until the transition is completed.

Jim Osburn September 04, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Whatever is decided, please do not follow Chicago's example. The pay-and-display system really inconveniences people who may have to walk a half block to pay and back again to desplay, especially in bad weather. Also, the fee schedule has decimated many neighborhood shopping areas. that depend on customers coming from other areas. A key o Evanston's prosperity is to regulate, not "strangulate."
mij September 04, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Credit cards usage for parking meters althogh appearing more convient for users will allow City to increase fees quicker. Just look South to Chicago (even though a private company) FEES increase annually. No wonder City Council likes idea.

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