While city ticket writers are on pace to give out fewer parking tickets than last year, Chicago is giving the Denver boot a workout.
The city booted 10 percent more vehicles during the first seven months of 2016, applying 34,968 boots — or about 4,995 monthly.
Chicago applied an average of 4,501 boots a month in 2015.
Last year, Emanuel raised the booting fee from $60 to $100 and set the stage to give scofflaws the long-awaited opportunity to remove their own wheel-locking Denver boots instead of waiting for city crews to arrive.
The mayor justified the increase by saying the fee had been frozen for “over 10 years” and needed to be raised to “better align with the costs of booting a vehicle.”
City officials didn’t release statistics about the locations where Denver boots were applied, just the locations of the wards where the owners of booted vehicles lived.
The 10 wards where the highest number of boot scofflaws live are predominantly African-American. They are the 27th with 1,511; the 3rd with 1,406; the 6th with 1,301; the 28th with 1,284; the 5th with 1,235; the 20th with 1,153; the 37th with 1,134; the 29th with 1,060; the 21st with 1,030; and the 4th with 1,022.
The only ward home to more than 1,000 booted motorists that is not predominantly African-American is the 41st, which includes O’Hare Airport.
City boot crews work from a list that includes more than 500,000 eligible license plates. Many of those plates are registered to motorists who live outside the city.
The 42nd and 2nd Wards, which include the downtown area, were home to 401 and 522 boot scofflaws, respectively.
While the number of booted cars, trucks and SUVs is on the rise, the number of parking tickets issued through July 31 was down 5 percent, to 1.31 million, compared with the same period a year earlier.
Not surprisingly, the ward where the most tickets were written was the downtown 42nd, with 142,663 tickets issued during the first seven months of this year.
The next highest wards for parking tickets are the 44th Ward, which includes Wrigley Field (60,528); the 2nd (55,574); the 1st (50,553); the 25th (49,203); the 27th (48,000); the 43rd (43,191); the 34rd (34,592); the 46th (33,048); and the 4th (32,404).
Testifying Monday at the opening day of city budget hearings, City Comptroller Erin Keane tried to explain the drop-off in ticket writing and the strategies the city intends to use to prevent a decrease in parking ticket revenue from the annual $185 million.
“Some of them are personnel factors, which we’re working on with the budget office and the absenteeism task force. We’re working to try to get people back to work, and make sure that they’re working a full day writing tickets,” Keane said.
“We also are starting to increase enforcement. We’ve added parking enforcement aides on the weekends. We just started about three weeks ago. I think we’re gonna see some great success with that because we’re targeting areas where businesses are impacted the most and residents are impacted the most because people are parking there when they don’t have the stickers they should and they’re violating the meters.”
Keane said the city hopes to buy data analytics software to better determine where ticket-writers should be deployed.