Tem­po­rary re­prieve on tick­et­ing, boot­ing end­ing for Chicago mo­torists

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRAN SPIEL­MAN, CITY HALL RE­PORTER fspiel­man@sun­times.com | @fspiel­man

The tem­po­rary re­prieve is over for Chicago mo­torists. Tick­et­ing and boot­ing are mak­ing an un­wel­come come­back.

On March 18, Mayor Lori Light­foot an­nounced Chicago would stop tick­et­ing, boot­ing and tow­ing il­le­gally parked ve­hi­cles, ex­cept for pub­lic safety rea­sons, through April 30 to give some mea­sure of re­lief to res­i­dents whose jobs and pay­checks have been af­fected by the coro­n­avirus.

At the time, the mayor re­served the right to ex­tend the go-easy pe­riod. She did just that sev­eral times — even af­ter res­i­den­tial streetswee­p­ing re­sumed with no park­ing signs, but mi­nus the tick­et­ing-and-tow­ing ham­mer.

There was no park­ing meter hol­i­day. Mo­torists were still re­quired to feed meter boxes; some com­plained about be­ing tick­eted when they didn’t. But City Hall made no at­tempt to col­lect over­due debt and no in­ter­est ac­cu­mu­lated on ex­ist­ing pay­ment plans. The ul­ti­mate penalty of boot­ing ve­hi­cles was sus­pended.

Now that Chicago has tip­toed into Phase 4 of its cau­tious re­open­ing plan, the free ride is end­ing.

On Wed­nes­day, tick­et­ing enforcemen­t re­sumed for il­le­gal park­ing along street-sweep­ing routes. On Mon­day, boot­ing makes a come­back. On July 16, the city will re­sume tick­et­ing for ex­pired city stick­ers and res­i­den­tial park­ing per­mits.

Enforcemen­t for ex­pired ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion will be the last to re­sume — on Oct. 2.

“When the city be­gan shel­ter­ing in place . . . the Light­foot ad­min­is­tra­tion tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended debt col­lec­tion, non-safety ve­hi­cle im­pound­ments and the is­suance of com­pli­ance tick­ets to pro­vide re­lief to res­i­dents ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­creased fi­nan­cial pres­sure from the COVID-19 global pan­demic,” the mayor’s of­fice said in an email.

“Dur­ing the early stages of the re­open­ing plan, the Depart­ment of Fi­nance be­gan no­ti­fy­ing mo­torists about their out­stand­ing debt and of­fer­ing to re­struc­ture or res­tart their pay­ments plans to avoid de­fault. Now that the city has en­tered Phase Four of the re­open­ing frame­work, debt col­lec­tion and pay­ment plan de­faults will also re­sume.” Scofflaws were urged to go to www.Chic­a­gogov/new­startchica­go to set up a pay­ment plan for over­due tick­ets and util­ity bills. Those plans give debtors up to 60 months to re­pay with a lower down pay­ment.

The stay-at-home shut­down of the Chicago econ­omy trig­gered by the pan­demic blew a $700 mil­lion hole in Light­foot’s pre­car­i­ously bal­anced 2020 bud­get. It was not known pre­cisely how much the un­prece­dented sus­pen­sion of tick­et­ing and boot­ing added to that short­fall.

“As we’ve men­tioned be­fore, mo­torists were still re­quired to pay park­ing me­ters through­out the COVID out­break, but park­ing enforcemen­t ef­forts were scaled back to pri­or­i­tize safety-re­lated vi­o­la­tions,” Bud­get and Man­age­ment spokesper­son Kris­ten Ca­ban­ban wrote in an email to the Sun-Times, promis­ing to pro­vide spe­cific fig­ures.

SUN-TIMES FILE

Mayor Lori Light­foot had an­nounced in March that Chicago would — for awhile — stop tick­et­ing, boot­ing and tow­ing il­le­gally parked ve­hi­cles ex­cept for pub­lic safety rea­sons.

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