A letter to Mayor Daley

Posted on March 23, 2009 by strandblog

Dear Mayor:

The recent move to privatize city parking is by all appearances suspicious. Over night the city's meters are broken, expensive, and have left Chicagoans feeling bitter and jaded.

Who is enforcing the meters? If meter revenue is going somewhere other than to the city, why do I see city employees strolling the curbs, issuing tickets? Do our tax dollars no longer pay the salary of city employees?

What kind of oversight is given to the private maintenance of the street meters? The likelihood of finding a broken meter has increased exponentially over the past few weeks. If this resulted in free parking, great. But no, park by one of the neglected meters and rest assured you will receive a ticket. On the surface this is a great revenue scheme; lower maintenance costs, forgo the mere quarters and pray on the naivety of citizens by issuing full fines for an un-posted offense.

The price... really I have no problem with the price. Meters could cost two dollars an hour for all I care... if the money was going to the city. I have a problem with where the money is going. Increase the price. Tax the hell out of driving and parking. But why, why increase the price and throw the revenue away?

I have to wonder, was this move not actually part of the mayor's sustainability initiative; an ingenious plan to make street parking so unattractive that the only commuting alternatives are the CTA and bicycles. If so, what a brilliant maneuver for the removal of parking and the expansion of space for bike lanes and recycling stations. Do that and the city goes green while at the same time making a buck.

The revenue stream is gone. Instead we have a lump sum. Will this go toward balancing our budget, keeping it alive, prolonging the rein of an unsustainable system? Or do we take the opportunity to change the system, using this money for projects that transform city systems to make them work now and forever, to make our city self sustaining?

The money from the meter deal should be spent on something productive and substantial... something other than bogus carbon offsets. This is money generated from a problematic system; a system which presents tons of hidden costs to the city. Automobile traffic harms air quality, causes congestion, requires infrastructure maintenance and associated pollution and cost. The money from this deal should be directed toward implementing substantial solutions to this flawed system. Because these hidden costs are simply unsustainable.

Posted in Thoughts on Design