For people whose job demands that they park all over the city, there may be nothing more frustrating than hunting for a parking space in a permit-zoned Chicago neighborhood. A potential solution to that problem isn’t working-most likely because of tinkering by city hall.
Permit-zone parking started on the Northwest Side in 1979 in the neighborhood around Northeastern Illinois University, an innovative way to stop students from swiping all the on-street parking from local residents. Permit zones have since proliferated, and now Chicago has at least 1,300 different zones.
For more than a decade, real-estate agents working in the city have complained that they can’t park near the houses that their clients want to see-so over the past year the Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR) helped arrange a special pass: an all-zones permit, paid for by agents, that allows them to park in any zone between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
But after critics said the agents didn’t deserve that special privilege, Mayor Richard M. Daley cut the hours on the pass to 9:30 am to 6 p.m. Trouble is, “most homebuyers are only free to look at houses after work,” says Brian Bernardoni, director of governmental affairs for CAR. ‘After work’ would typically mean after 6 p.m.-when the all-zone permits no longer apply.
The result: six weeks after the permits first became available, the office of Miguel del Valle, the city clerk, reports that only 32 people have paid the $300 for an all-zones permit (the pass is also available to home health-care workers). There are at least 11,000 real-estate agents in Chicago; if the pass had included the evening hours, Bernardoni estimates that something like 3,000 agents would have bought them by now.
So don’t blame your real-estate agent the next time you have to walk several blocks to see a house. After all, the agent can’t very well include a $100 parking ticket in your closing costs.