Businesses Use Loading Zones For Private Parking

Jay Levine Apr 8, 2010 10:43 am US/Central CHICAGO (CBS) ― Here’s a story bound to frustrate anybody tired of scrambling for parking spots, or paying through the nose at meters or downtown garages. It’s about businesses who consider loading zones their own private parking spots.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine checked out a viewer’s tip and found loading zones being used for anything but loading.

It’s the best parking deal in town. Just as we’ve found in other parts of the city. Business owners who pay $100 a year to reserve those spaces for loading and unloading of supplies, using them for their own personal vehicles.

Of course, it’s illegal. We saw them there day after day. Up and down the street.

CBS 2 Intern David Nayak had taken pictures, made chalk marks on tires, then came back with us hours later to find the cars right where they were.

One car that he chalked at 11 a.m. was still parked at 3:30 p.m. in the loading zone, four-and-a-half hours later.

A Chief Concerns e-mail from David Pleger about a previous story had tipped us off.

Pleger wrote: “Jay, your $100 parking via loading zones hit home. Check out Division Street between State and Dearborn. I’ve reported abuse, same cars are parked for hours. The response I got was that the bar owners pay for those loading zones and, therefore, are allowed to park there.”

It’s the same explanation we got from one of the guys illegally parked.

“It’s the maintenance person,” he said. “He has a loading zone permit on it, he moves it.”

We went to Ald. Brendan Reilly, who, like all aldermen, rules on loading zone requests.

“People think they have proprietary ownership of this spot,” Ald. Reilly said. “And it’s quite clear, the city code is very clear, that’s not the purpose of a loading zone.”

The same guy who tried to defend the illegal parkers also seemed to be in charge of moving cars when we showed up.

First one, then another. Others got the word, too, and started pulling out.

No mystery who they were. The Jeep with a placard that said “Lodge Management”, parked in front of The Lodge in a loading zone, was a dead giveaway.

“Most of these cars belong to the people who run these bars,” said one street worker.

A Streets & Sanitation worker said the cars are usually parked in the loading zones “all day long.”

“I think that if it was me, I probably would have been towed,” one neighbor said.

“I appreciate loading zones as an important tool for economic growth downtown,” said Ald. Reilly. “But if you’re not using them properly, then maybe you shouldn’t have them at all.”

Ald. Reilly says he plans to lay down the law to those Division Street businesses. Or better yet, bring in the law: police, traffic control, or revenue officers.

Though you gotta wonder why we saw all those cars parked there for hours on end and not a single one ever had a ticket.

CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall and Intern David Nayak contributed to this report.

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