West Side alderman's towing ordinance approved

Ald. Ervin's measure clamps down on cars parked illegally in city-owned lots

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By Igor Studenkov

Contributing Reporter

The Chicago City Council unanimously approved an ordinance designed to tackle the ongoing issue that affects much of the West Side — cars being illegally parked and abandoned in vacant city-owned lots. 

One of the issues with addressing the problem in the past has been that the city couldn't move the car if the lot didn't have a "no parking" sign. And when the city did put up signs, they have been known to get removed in a few days. 

The issue has been the source of complaints at the ward meetings of Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), who along with Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) introduced the ordinance. With the measure now in place, the city has an option of putting "no parking" stickers on the vehicle's windshield. If the vehicle isn't moved within seven days, the city can tow it. 

Ervin and Lopez originally introduced the ordinance during June 27 City Council meeting. It went before the City Council's Committee on Budget and Government Operations on July 24.

According to a Chicago Sun-Times article published later that day, Ervin told the committee that has been a chronic issue in his ward.  When "no-parking" signs are put up, they disappear within days, Ervin told the Sun-Times. 

"I've got one lot with weeds growing up all around the car but, because the car is not hazardous, the city can't tow it, even though it's on one of [city-owned] parcels," Ervin said. "This will help the department remove some of the blight and challenges we have. We want to give the department a tool to deal with a lot of these vacant lots and vehicles that aren't necessarily hazardous."

Ald. Michael Scott (24th) echoed his colleague's testimony, saying it has been a problem in North Lawndale as well, the Sun-Times reported. 

The original version of the ordinance added language to existing parking regulations specifying that a sticker would function as a notice to the vehicle's owner for legal purposes, giving him or her seven days to move the vehicle. 

During the committee meeting, the aldermen also simplified the language regarding what properties the ban applied to. Before, parking was prohibited on any property "owned by the city and used for the transaction of public business where such parking is prohibited by order of the custodian of the property." 

The ordinance that went before the city council specified that it would apply to all city-owned properties "except in parking lots and garages that are explicitly held out for the use of the public."

According to the Sun-Times article, during the committee meeting, Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) wondered what would happen if the owner of the vehicle that got the sticker simply moved their vehicle to another city-owned lot. Ervin responded that, while the sticker would still be in force, the seven-day clock would start from whenever the car was moved. In other words, if the owner moved the car three days after the sticker was originally attached, he or she would have seven days rather than three to move it. 

The ordinance went before the full city council the following day, on July 25. It was approved unanimously as part of a series of roll call votes.

CONTACT: igorst3@hotmail.com 

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