As was publicized in Alderman Sophia King’s newsletter, her office hosted: “a community meeting to discuss parking in the South Loop—particularly the area from Congress Parkway (Ida B. Wells Drive) to Roosevelt Road by Wells Street to Wabash Avenue. We plan to share recommendations, get feedback and discuss possible solutions. We will be joined by representatives from the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Finance Department who will answer questions regarding their work in the area. The meeting will take place at Grace Place (637 S. Dearborn) at 6 p.m.”
Summary South Loop Neighbors described the meeting succinctly: At Alderman King’s meeting on October 11, she proposed adding additional street parking in the South Loop. Options include adding free parking with no restrictions and extending overnight free parking, but does not include expanding permit parking.
South Loop Parking Discussion Alderman King arrived at about 6:20pm to a crowd of around 65 people. She and her team have been investigating ways to increase parking in the area. She commented that her office would issue no more “letters of exception” until having a broader discussion with area residents. These exceptions are requested by residents in new buildings who have pay-for parking available and do not qualify for the 1673 permit. New buildings are not allowed to get 1673, because they have available parking.
Several attendees were from Dearborn Park and were concerned about keeping their 9-11am parking ban in place. Alderman King assured them that the issue had been resolved 18 months ago, and the ban would remain.
Alderman King and her team has worked with CDOT for recommendations on expanding parking spaces in the area. The meeting was to get feedback on their recommendations and plan a path for going forward. Obviously, there will always be more cars than spots. Due to the city’s privatized parking meters, there are limited options for evening public parking and extended free parking.
The Alderman has identified 16 spots in Dearborn Park One (DPI) and 51 spots outside. These could just be added, or they can be leveraged with other currently metered spots and expanded to become 130 spots that are free in the evening. All would be free—not zoned. (Continued on page 13)
Many Dearborn Park One residents were concerned about the placement of the 16 new spots in DPI due to congestion, lack of vehicle turnover, and increased traffic due to the “no outlet” streets. Alderman King stated that new spots in DPI would be free 24/7 and not subject to the 9-11am ban. DPI residents were clear that they opposed free spots due to traffic in and out with drivers looking for parking, confusion on the different parking types, and cars left indefinitely. Residents were open to having the spots if they were permit parking for 1673 (which encompasses the full area—not just DPI). Alderman King said that permit parking is not an option. She simply won’t add any additional permit parking ever.
The Alderman then polled the audience. There was widespread support for adding the 51 spots outside DPI, with “leveraged” spots preferred. There was some pushback on adding spots near The Jazz Showcase due to the proposed bike lanes that may be installed there. There were also requests for adding spots on Plymouth Court north from Polk to Harrison instead. Due to extensive objection to the 16 free non-permit spots within DPI, the Alderman said she “probably won’t change that at all”. In other words, they will not be added.
The meeting concluded around 8pm. Kathy Lewis