Lakefront parking lot fees anger residents

The Chicago Park District is likely to get an earful tomorrow from residents upset over a recently approved plan to  charge for overnight parking at all lakefront parking lots.

District spokeswoman Marta Juaniza says the fee would start at 25 cents an hour. 

“We think it’s a reasonable fee,” she says.

The district's board approved the measure several months ago in an effort to deal with falling revenue.

The plan drew a quick reubke from Alderman Joe Moore (D-49), who is urging residents to protest at tomorrow's board meeting.

“I don’t have any real serious problems with them increasing the meter rates during the day when the parks are open. But leave us alone at night,” says Moore.

Moore is particularly concerned about two lakefront lots, Loyola and Leone, free after 9pm.

Moore says the plan will be detrimental to the majority of senior citizens who use the Loyola parking lot overnight.

“A lot of the people who live right around there live on fixed incomes, that’s going to bust a hole in their income,” says Moore.  

 At the beginning of the year, the district faced a projected deficit of $26 million, due in large part to failing businesses that didn't pay their taxes, says Juaniza.

Hazel Weathers, a retired resident who uses the Loyola parking lot behind her building, says she's outraged over the fees.

“An average senior citizen doesn’t make that kind of money, and it’s too far to park five or six blocks down and walk back to your apartment,” says Weathers.

A quarter a day may not seem like much but Weathers says it adds up quick,

Moore says he hopes strong attendance at the meeting will encourage the district to change course.

“My hope is to convince the board to take the public into account and to reach a compromise that will allow the people in the neighborhood to park overnight,” says Moore.

The Park District's move comes as the City Council is facing increasing criticism over rapidly increasing parking rates that accompanied the recent decision to lease city meters to a private vendor.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that the parking fee increase has already been approved by the Park District. An earlier version contained incorrect information provided by the Park District.