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As you swelter in today’s heat — think of this — Evanston aldermen Monday night gave a chilly reception to a staff plan to raise fines for snow parking violations.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, asked whether there’s any data about whether raising fines actually deters violations.

“I know we’re looking for more ways to raise money,” Burrus said, “but my sense is that people aren’t deliberately leaving their cars on the street.”

She suggested the city should focus instead on improving communications efforts to people know when a snow emergency or snow route parking ban has been declared.

Streets and Sanitation Superintendent James Maiworm said, “A lot of adjoining communities have raised fees and fines, and most have seen an increase in voluntary compliance because of that.”

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said, “I don’t think raising fines by $10 is going to get better compliance. I think it will just make people angry.”

“I think we should go through this winter trying to do a better job before we start talking about raising rates,” Fiske said, adding, “I can’t even imagine the phone calls I’m going to get if we do.”

The staff had proposed raising fines as follows:

  • Snow route parking ban tickets would increase from $50 to $60.
  • Snow emergency parking tickets on residential streets would go up from $35 to $60.
  • Snow towing fines would double from $100 to $200.

The only idea for an increase that got any traction with aldermen was the possibility of raising the side street fine to be the same $50 that the snow route ticket now costs.

“I think that makes sense, to be the same across the board,” Wynne said. “$50 is a big ticket,”

Asked about compliance levels with the snow parking regulations now, Maiworm said, “Basically we have terrific compliance in areas where it’s easy to comply — where people have driveways or garages or enough available on-street parking to be able to relocate.”

“But in some very dense areas of the city, people either aren’t getting the message or prefer to have us move cars for them.”

Maiworm said the areas that have the most problems tend to be ones “with a mostly student population.”

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, suggested the city do “more targeted communication” to areas that have problems. “There’s lots of ways to reach the off-campus student population,” she added.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she liked new signs that the City of Chicago is using for special street cleaning operations.

“They’re red and white and have a big letter indicating the day of the week,” she said. “You don’t have to drive up real close to see that it’s a “W” for Wednesday. Those signs are really great.”

Maiworm said he’d look into using something similar here.

He added that he was also exploring using the parking enforcement unit’s new license plate reading cameras to be able to identify illegally parked cars and giving owners phone calls to ask them to move their cars.

‘I don’t know yet how time-consuming that would be, but we’re trying to be sensitive to the needs of residents who need to park on the street — and the ones who want their streets cleared as well.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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2 Comments

  1. Skokie provides better service to gain compliance.

    I've witnessed when in Skokie how their City staff work to communicate rather than punish residents.  They drive up and down the street announcing on a loud speaker that cars need to move.  Then they work with residents who are outside moving cars to identify the residence that a particular unmoved vehicle belongs to and go up to the door and knock on the door to let them know to move.  Only when these measures fail do they move to the punishment phase.  Evanston is far more aggressive about punishment than service.  I applaud the alderfolks who appreciate people don't generally mean to fail to comply – they in fact want to cooperate usually.  Our lives get full and busy with other priorities and we simply sometimes fail to realize the car that is out of sight is also out of mind when it needs to be moved.  A reminder makes for a gentler kinder community than gestapo-like enforcement and punishment.

  2. City gives plenty of warning

    The city blows the air-raid siren as well as parking enforcement and police cars driving up and down the blocks using air horns and sirens as well as loud speakers ….  which, by the way, many of the people complain about .

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