A grace period on parking?

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Chicago Tribune (IL) - Thursday, January 14, 2010
Author: John Byrne, Tribune reporter

Mayor Richard Daley is pitching the idea of one get-out-of-a-ticket-free card per year for drivers who slightly overstay their welcome at Chicago parking meters.

If aldermen go along, drivers would be able to successfully fight one ticket per car each year if the penalty is handed out within five minutes of the meter or pay ticket running out.

It's part of the mayor's attempt to placate the public after an unpopular lease of the city's parking meters led to steep rate hikes and broken machines. Much of the one-time windfall is being used to prop up the city budget.

"I understand that many people were angry over the way the parking meter plan was implemented last year," Daley said Wednesday at a news conference after the City Council meeting. "This grace period is another step by Chicago Parking Meters to improve the parking meter system and add convenience for motorists."

Apparently, traffic aides have been told for years not to write tickets when the meter has just expired. The mayor's proposal would make that official.

"It's a valid defense and we will withdraw" the ticket, said Bea Reyna-Hickey, the city's revenue commissioner. "You're avoiding a $50 ticket, so I think that's a very big break."

Daley said an ordinance represents a way to "sensitize those issuing tickets" about the five-minute policy.

"If they're standing there that's what we're asking them to do, if somebody's running to the car, running out of a store, use discretion," the mayor said.