Pandemic plunge: 52% decline in Chicago parking tickets, 42% drop in booting
Last year, 2.06 million parking tickets were issued in Chicago. This year, through June 30, only 498,980 tickets were written. Booting has seen a similar drop — from 57,196 in 2019 to just 12,018 during the first six months of 2020.
The stay-at-home shutdown and prolonged economic slowdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic had such a chilling effect on driving for business and pleasure, auto insurance giants doled out rebates.
Now the impact is being profoundly felt on two of the city’s biggest revenue generators — booting and ticketing — just when Mayor Lori Lightfoot is counting on an additional $68 million in 2021 from what she calls “enhanced enforcement initiatives.”
Based on the first six months of this year, the city is on pace to write 52% fewer parking tickets in 2020.
Last year, 2.06 million parking tickets were issued on the streets of Chicago. Through June 30 of 2020, only 498,980 tickets were written.
Booting is headed for a 42% decline — from 57,196 during all of 2019 to just 12,018 during the first six months of 2019.
For years, ticketing and booting were headed in opposite directions. Parking ticket writing declined steadily while the city made greater use of the wheel-locking Denver boot.
That changed in 2018, when parking ticket writing stabilized but booting declined by 10.5% — just one year after an 11% increase.
Both declined last year — ticketing by 13.4%, booting by 8%.
City boot crews work from a list of more than 500,000 eligible license plates, many registered to motorists living outside Chicago.
Although booting volume is down, the list of wards with the most-booted motorists remained pretty much the same.
Once again, the Near West Side’s booming 27th Ward topped the city, with 543 boot scofflaws, down from 1,245 by this time last year.
That was followed by the 3rd Ward (536); the 6th Ward (445); the 28th Ward (440); the 41st Ward, which includes O’Hare Airport (down from 1,028 at this time last year to just 374); the 24th Ward (356); the 20th Ward (354); the 5th Ward (353); the 4th Ward (325); the 8th Ward (319); the 1st Ward (315) and 37th Ward (303).
As always, the ward with the greatest number of parking tickets written was downtown’s 42nd Ward. It had 134,056 tickets written through June 30 a year ago. It was 91,573 during the same period this year.
The next highest wards for parking tickets are: the 2nd, which includes the Gold Coast (24,959, compared to 45,730 last year); the 27th Ward (22,372, down from 91,836 last year); the 44th Ward, which includes Wrigley Field (19,075, compared to 46,219 last year); the 25th Ward (18,845); the 4th Ward (18,821); the 1st Ward (18,292); the 3rd Ward (14,192); the 43rd Ward (13,658) and the 5th Ward (11,236).
|Ward||Alderman Name||2019||2020 thru 06/30|
|1||Daniel La Spata||88,147||18,292|
|10||Susan Sadlowski Garza||13,107||2,902|
|12||George A. Cardenas||31,716||5,965|
|16||Stephanie D. Coleman||24,368||6,305|
|20||Jeanette B. Taylor||27,510||5,512|
|21||Howard Brookins Jr.||21,222||5,437|
|22||Michael D. Rodriguez||27,807||5,077|
|24||Michael Scott Jr.||29,782||5,640|
|25||Byron Sigcho Lopez||90,118||18,845|
|27||Walter Burnett, Jr.||91,836||22,372|
|30||Ariel E. Reboyras||26,044||5,511|
|31||Felix Cardona, Jr.||29,520||7,205|
|33||Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez||29,518||8,639|
|40||Andre Vasquez, Jr.||27,614||6,113|
|44||Thomas M. Tunney||93,491||19,075|
|45||James M. Gardiner||18,160||5,097|
|47||Matthew J. Martin||44,356||9,704|
|49||Maria E. Hadden||32,408||6,443|
At least some of the dramatic decline in ticketing and booting can be traced to Lightfoot’s March 18 decision to stop ticketing, booting and towing illegally parked vehicles, except for public safety reasons. The hope was to give some relief to residents whose jobs and paychecks have been impacted by the coronavirus.
The go-easy period continued until early July, when Chicago tiptoed into Phase 4 of its cautious reopening plan.
There was no parking meter holiday. Motorists still had to feed meter boxes — and some who didn’t complained about being ticketed. But City Hall didn’t try to collect overdue debt and no interest accumulated on existing payment plans. The ultimate penalty of booting vehicles was suspended.
The mayor’s bad news budget assumes Chicago will rake in $68 million in additional revenue in 2021 from “enhanced fine enforcement initiatives.”
Chief among them is Lightfoot’s decision to do what the City Council authorized former Mayor Rahm Emanuel to do, though he never did. That is, have Chicago’s 88 speed cameras strategically positioned around schools and parks churn out $35 tickets to motorists caught driving between 6 mph and 9 mph over the posted speed limit.
On Monday, Lightfoot defended that decision, saying it was needed to “keep communities safe” — even though it contradicts her campaign promise to “unwind the city’s addiction to fines and fees on the backs of low-income people.”
“We’ve seen, unfortunately, over the course of this year, a number of speed-related accidents and deaths go up exponentially. And we can’t ignore that reality. The hope is that, by being more aggressive in citing people for speeding around schools, around parks, that we’re gonna actually lower the amount of traffic-related accidents and fatalities,” the mayor said.
“Unlike fines for non-moving violations that did fall disproportionately on Black and brown Chicagoans and drove people into bankruptcy, people have control over whether … they speed or not. The signs are very well marked. And it’s my hope that people will take this as an opportunity to check their speed because we can’t afford to have more people injured and more lives lost.”
|Ward||Alderman Name||2019||2020 thru 6/30|
|1||Daniel La Spata||1,474||315|
|10||Susan Sadlowski Garza||563||101|
|12||George A. Cardenas||824||242|
|16||Stephanie D. Coleman||1,252||289|
|20||Jeanette B. Taylor||1,505||354|
|21||Howard Brookins Jr.||1,368||297|
|22||Michael D. Rodriguez||821||183|
|24||Michael Scott Jr.||1,528||356|
|25||Byron Sigcho Lopez||1,131||272|
|27||Walter Burnett, Jr.||2,603||543|
|30||Ariel E. Reboyras||941||185|
|31||Felix Cardona, Jr.||1,106||237|
|33||Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez||897||197|
|40||Andre Vasquez, Jr.||722||143|
|44||Thomas M. Tunney||721||173|
|45||James M. Gardiner||684||124|
|47||Matthew J. Martin||686||124|
|49||Maria E. Hadden||857||174|