Like many motorists, I’m a staunch believer in strict parking enforcement. Here in Forest Park, we can get tickets for parking overnight on the street, parking in an illegal spot, or letting our meter expire. This isn’t enough. We need more tickets. For a role model, we only have to look to our neighbor Oak Park.
Now, this is a town that knows how to wallpaper a lot with orange parking tickets. The Oak Park police are hands down the toughest parking enforcement agency on the planet and the tickets bring in much needed revenue.
To see Oak Park’s master plan at work, look at the Marion Street neighborhood. The police help discourage commercial growth by ticketing business owners and their employees at every opportunity.
Office workers and shop clerks keep one eye on the clock, dashing out to meters, or moving their cars, to avoid the dreaded $10 tickets. This enforcement didn’t go far enough though, because some of the businesses still had customers. So, they blanketed the customer’s cars in a blizzard of orange.
Some of the Marion Street shops stubbornly held on. The village, therefore, had to resort to ripping up the pedestrian mall, which had given Marion its quiet charm. As the storefronts emptied, there must have been fewer cars to ticket, because the police have recently ramped up their efforts.
My office is located on Marion, so I’ve gotten my share of tickets. But now I’m getting ticketed without even breaking the law. One evening I got one for having an expired license, despite the temporary permit prominently displayed in the back window. I mailed the permit in, with tape still attached, along with the ticket and a letter of protest and Oak Park non-suited it.
The next ticket I received though, took enforcement to another level. I spent 15 minutes in a one-hour zone, left for an hour, returned for another 15 minutes and found a ticket. It turned out the police had electronically “chalked” my car. When they found it back in the same spot, they assumed it hadn’t moved. This reinforces the American legal principle of being guilty until proven innocent.
The parking enforcement people told me the burden was on me to not park in the same space and confuse the ticketers. I asked if they had gotten any complaints about parking enforcement and they said no.
There you have it people. Put the meters back on Madison. “Chalk” the cars on side streets. Let’s cover as many windshields as possible. The only downside to following Oak Park’s example is that the enforcers will work themselves out of a job. After the customers flee and the shops are shuttered, there won’t be any cars left to ticket. We’ll just have to develop a new source of revenue. Building code violations, anyone?