It may seem hard to believe, but tickets issued in Evanston for overstaying time in a metered parking space have actually declined in the first few months of this year compared to the same period last year.

City officials say tickets issued from January through April for overstaying a parking meter or a space controlled by a pay station dropped 22 percent, from 15,466 in 2018 to 12,043 this year. Those numbers also include tickets issued on spaces paid for through the city’s online parking app. 

That’s despite claims from local merchants about predatory enforcement in the transition this year from meters to pay stations in some business districts and a column in a local media outlet claiming the new system is creating a hostile environment in the city.

That doesn’t mean the total number of tickets issued is down. Tickets for street cleaning violations are up while unpaid wheel tax tickets are down.

The “all other” category is way up, and Assistant City Manager Erika Storlie says a large share of that increase — more than 4,000 tickets — resulted from snow towing violations issued during the two snow emergencies in January, events that didn’t occur in 2018.

Erika Storlie.

Storlie says the city needs to do “enough enforcement to encourage compliance, but not so much that it discourages use of parking and patronizing of businesses.”

Storlie says parking tickets in Evanston generate about 3 percent of the city’s budget, while in Chicago they produce 7 percent of the city budget. Chicago’s high parking violation fines have been blamed in news reports for driving some residents into bankruptcy.

The Chicago revenue numbers include revenue from automated traffic cameras — a type of device not used in Evanston.

While Evanston’s fine for overstaying the permitted time at a meter is $25, larger cities frequently charge a lot more.

In Detroit, where the meter fine is $45, the City Council is currently considering cutting the fine in half — but only for city residents

Wondering where you’re most likely to get a parking ticket for any reason?

Storlie says the heat map above shows all tickets issued by parking enforcement officers from Jan. 1 through May 19 this year. Green dots show individual tickets. Where multiple tickets have been issued, the colors shade from yellow to red.

As you might expect, business districts and the area near the Northwestern University campus are among the hot spots.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Fewer people not paying for parking at meters?

    Maybe fewer people not paying when parking at meters. Great for the honesty of people but bad for the expected revenue from parking fines.

  2. Not Surprising

    Not surprising! As the city introduces more signage to pay with the app and people use it more, it makes it easier to buy more parking as needed. It automatically alerts you when your meter is about to run out, and you can add more time without having to hike back to the meter. So much easier and efficient than the old meters!

    1. Tickets are down because

      Tickets are down because people are not coming to Evanston. 

      1. Not worth the hassle

        As a forty year resident, I rarely shop in Evanston. If the business does not provide free parking, I go out of town to the myriad places within 10mins that do. Wilmette and Skokie get most of my sales tax dollars. 

    2. get the app

      I agree that the new boxes are so much easier so long as you download the app.  If you have the app then you never have to go up to the box again, just pay with your phone from the comfort of your car. 

      People will always complain about change, how they hate the box and would rather have to hoard and feed the meter a bunch of quarters or some other such nonsense, but this is the future here and everywhere else so they will adapt with time.  And once they download the app they will learn just how much easier and better it really is.

      BUT, beware the feeding of extra time and thinking you are safe.  What is not so clear on signage is that the two hour limit means even if you feed more $$ into the box or app you will still get a ticket.  That part still needs better clarification.    

  3. Parking

    All you have to do is take a look at Chicago Ave. south of Dempster to understand what’s happened.  That street used to be constantly full of cars – all at meters – for blocks.  For months now, the spaces have been empty up and down the street everytime I’ve gone by.  

    The city has already successfully driven the public away from street parking in widespread areas.  If they don’t have a parking holiday next weekend, I’m afraid of what it’s going to do to the Custer Street fair…

  4. The situation is easy to

    The situation is easy to understand.  The public hates the new pay-boxes, they resent the price hikes and they now feel like they have to rush in and out of the store whenever they go shopping.  Just taka a look at Chicago Avenue south of Dempster – empty parking places as far as the eye can see.  Those spaces used to be at least 80% full most of the time.  This is not working.

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