Evanston aldermen Monday voted to turn what had been a free city service for residents into a new money maker.
They voted to charge residents $100 for temporary no parking signs to assure that their moving van will have a place at the curb to load or unload.
City officials, apparently anticipating no elasticity in demand for the service, have estimated that because about 500 people asked for the signs last year, they'll be able to raise $50,000 from the new fee this year.
Public Works Director Suzette Robinson says it actually costs staff more than $100 to provide the service, because someone goes out 48 hours before moving day to post the signs, returns 24 hours later and on the moving day to check that the signs haven't been torn down, and then return again after the move to remove the signs.
Robinson suggested that in most places people informally get together with their neighbors to park in the spaces, and then move out when the moving van arrives.
Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said she feared the fee would unfairly penalize residents who live in more densely populated parts of town, but the ultimately voted for it.
Census bureau data shows that about 12 percent of Americans move each year.
If Evanstonians are typical, that suggests about 3,600 of the city's roughly 30,000 households make a move annually.
That means a lot of movers aren't reserving parking spaces.
Police Chief Richard Eddington said officers now only respond if somebody complains about a moving van blocking a street or driveway or causing other problems.
"And we try to negotiate a resolution," Eddington says, "because giving a ticket doesn't actually resolve the problem. They still have to unload."
The new fee was approved on a 7-2 vote, with Aldermen Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, voting against it.