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Readers Sound Off On Parking in Evanston

Thanks to all of our readers, officials from the City of Evanston are researching your parking gripes and questions. Got any more? Patch columnist Christine Wolf is on the hunt for some answers.

Alright, everyone.

I met last week with City of Evanston officials in front of to discuss . Marty Lyons (Assistant City Manager / Chief Financial Officer) and Rickey Voss (Division Manager, Parking & Revenue) said they’re looking forward to researching and answering all of the questions posed by readers as soon as possible.

Here’s the list of questions I’ve presented on your behalf. I've highlighted the issues in bold:

1. Why was the intersection at Dodge and Church modified in the first place? Why are there no longer metered parking spaces in front of Boocoo Cultural Center?

2. Why is there no longer any metered spaces on Church Street in front of Boocoo?

3.Please address these comments from Ida Care:  What happens to the traffic [on Church Street] behind the bus[es]? Another problematic issue is no left turn lane from Church to Dodge... what about all the parents picking their children up from school? Then there is also the parking issue? This clearly was not thought through and the city will have no choice but to correct the problem which is more of our tax dollars wasted…

4. Will there be a bike lane in this intersection? How will residents travel this intersection via bicycle?

5. ”I would like to to know how much revenue the city brings in a year on the parking meters. The reason I ask, I was remembering when the meters were only a penny, and the downtown area was really buzzing with shoppers. We also had department stores in that area as well, but we still had the same problem of finding a place to park. No one complained about a penny and getting a parking citation. What was taken in a year back then compared to now. It just might be fun to see the difference.”

6. Will protected bike lanes be installed on Central [Street] also?

7. I went to Lighthouse Beach with two other moms after finding out Greenwood Beach was closed. I live in the District where Lighthouse is, but due to the fact I was coming from Greenwood, I drove. All of the parking around the beach is designated 2 hour. Everyone in Evanston knows that these designations are to prevent NU students from taking all residential parking. I imagine some are to thwart Evanston Hospital staff as well. Well, it is the middle of July. The parking police know that if you are parked around Lighthouse, it is because you are at the beach. All three of us were given $30 tickets. So I suppose the expectation is to unload your car, your things, your children etc., and then EVERY TWO HOURS, repeat. 8. Are you kidding me? 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 being at the beach? It is the most unfriendly city when it comes to parking. We have no good will with any community regarding our parking. It seems like such an easy thing to figure out. How about an Evanston parking pass that is issued with your tokens, allowing you to park an expended time in any beach area? Also, while I am at it, all meters should have the credit card reader as it is now so expensive, you need a roll of quarters just to park for a two hour dinner. Boo to it all!

9.  I, too, rarely shop in Evanston because of the parking costs and parking restrictions.

10. My family and I often shop in other towns (chiefly Wilmette) because of the free parking. We do not often park in metered areas in Evanston.

I disagree with people who say that Evanston ought to raise their parking rates. If I want to go to a town with exorbitant parking rates, all I need to do is go to Chicago. Even though I was born and raised there, I rarely shop or eat in Chicago now, because of the horrendous parking situation. Evanston is a little better, but not by much. The nasty Evanston parking enforcers are petty and overly zealous. I think they forget that WE (the good citizens of Evanston) are ultimately their bosses, and WE have the authority to make adjustments to the city regulations.

11. 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. I prefer to walk three or four blocks to avoid metered spaces or do my shopping in Wilmette.

Others above have remarked on the overzealousness of the enforcement people lurking around in their little Jeeps. 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.

12. Evanston needs to adjust parking rates. It's far too inexpensive and residents are being cheated out of revenue. We pay for installation and upkeep for these parking spaces, but we're like landlords with rent-controlled properties.

If you can't find a parking space, it's because the meters aren't charging enough. Other municipalities like Minneapolis are using smart meters that present usage-tuned variable rates, and it's paying off for them. Add credit card readers and set prices to market rates!

13. They did adjust them earlier this year. Raised the rate. You can park free in Wilmette.

14. Hmm. Let's see. There is a Traffic Institute at Northwestern University. This might be an elementary idea, but why can't the City of Evanston partner with the Traffic Institute at NU and take care of some of these trouble spots around town?

I hear about the Town VERSUS Gown problems between Evanston and NU from time to time. Why not some Town/Gown COOPERATION?? This traffic difficulty near ETHS is not the first situation I've heard about. (And I have two children attending ETHS this year, besides, so I am very interested in the eventual outcome.)

In this specific case, the case of the Church/Dodge intersection, the safety of a great many of our children is at stake, as well as the smooth operation of traffic at very busy times of the day. So, how about it, City of Evanston? How about it, Northwestern? How about a little cooperation?

15. I have lived in Evanston for almost 3 years now after growing up in Chicago. I honestly don't mind the parking rates/restrictions in the business districts because, let's face it, it's the norm. What really ticks me off is the moving of my car twice a week EVERY week in my neighborhood. Seriously? They can't plan one or two days a month and then post a sign? I would much rather move my car the second Tuesday of every month than every week. It's down right inconvenient.

16.  What bothers me is that while I pay for a residential permit in my Central Street area block, it is good for 7-9 A.M. only, while every other residential district near a business district in Evanston limits non-residents to two hour parking, the result being that all those who work around my neighborhood get a full day's parking for free, while we residents have to drive around looking for a place to park after we pull up to our doors to unload our packages! Not fair. Furthermore, when signatures were collected years ago complaining about our lack of non-resident restrictions, instead of giving us consideration, the city paid a fortune to an outside consultant who wrote that while residents are bending over backwards to accommodate non-resident cars, not to change anything. She took her money and left us in the same position as before, giving the impression she'd been paid to accommodate the Central Street business owners.

17.  I don't think I've seen an article where the comments were almost 100% in agreement with each other. This parking enforcement group should be given the job of cleaning up the gangs because they are ruthless. I'm sitting in an alley next to my apartment building where I have lived for 34 years, my car is running and I am waiting for my wife, A-ticket the Hun, comes up behind me and points to the sign that says No Parking, my feeble attempt at explaining that I wasn't parked but waiting, was to no avail, finally I told him that I knew the city needed the money so go ahead and give me the ticket. Thats when he went furious. We do know that we play roulette when we park there to drop off kids, or groceries or even when folks move.

18. I am a life long resident of the North Shore. There was a time that I would come into Evanston for a day of strolling...shopping...eating. I would spend alot of money that I could have spent in other villages but I loved my time in Evanston. The cost of parking and parking restrictions has driven me away. The last time I spent the better part of the day looking at my watch to make sure my meter did not run out...or to move my car when my time limit expired. It's stressful and unpleasant. I am now spending my time (and money) in the suburbs that have free parking. The city should consider alternate methods of earning revenue...or at the least have a week day or two of free parking. This has been a topic of discussion between my friends who also do not reside in Evanston...and many feel the same way...so I know I am not the only one! It's Evanston's loss.

19. My gripe is having to carry two pounds of change around in my car. When will Evanston come into the 21st century and allow payment by credit card or even a city issued parking card would work? Please someone at city hall give Ann Arbor MI a call and find out who redid their parking system. It's GREAT! The spaces are numbered, you go to a kiosk on the block, put in your space number, pay and off you go! No change needed and unlike Chicago, no need to head back to your car to put piece of paper in the window.

20. The city has that specific set-up for parking under the Public Library.

21….perhaps create spots for SUV/Vans only on one side of street or a section on each side for SUV/Vans only. Since the parking revenue is use to buy properties and make parking lots perhaps lower meter rates.

22. Perhaps SUV's and minivans should be banned from downtown? This would free up more pavement space without laying more asphalt. Also, James has a point, with the dedicated bike lanes (to be protected by posts) cyclist should bear some of the costs, a separate "wheel tax" for the privilege of using streets and paths.

Beth Galfer August 20, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Parking on side streets in the neighborhoods is no picnic either. I have received tickets for being more than 12" out from the curb (in both cases I was about 18"). Just try parking behind a wide body vehicle late at night and being within the 12" rule from the curb. Are they getting tape measures out? Also, I thought the rule for fire hydrants was 8' on either side. After getting a ticket, I was told that the rule is 15' on either side. Of course, there is no sign warning of this.
michael August 20, 2012 at 11:07 PM
I believe most of what has been writen here are statements and not questions. In fact most are gripes! I agree parking is very stressful, but this article could of been so much better.
Jennifer Fisher August 21, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Michael -- these are comments from readers like yourself who shared their thoughts on Christine's first article, which asked for their opinions, gripes or questions for the city. Not everyone posted their comment in the form of a question!
mij August 24, 2012 at 08:53 PM
You can tell how far you are form a Hydrant by counting the sidewak squares. They are usually 5' each. Maybe stick you foot between tire and curb will give idea if you are to far into street.

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