How small biz owners can avoid parking tickets for work trucks

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Paul Hughes, co-owner of a small electrical contracting business, received a parking ticket a couple of weeks back while working a job on the North Side.

His transgression?

Parking a commercial truck on a city street.

This baffled Hughes.

He was parked right out in front of a new home in the 4100 block of North Wolcott, where he was installing electrical wiring, just as he normally has done while making service calls in the city for the past 15 years.

Surely, the city didn’t intend to prevent service businesses like his from making house calls on city residents — or did it?

Many people who drive work trucks in the city have been asking themselves that same question in recent months, judging by my conversations Wednesday with Chicago aldermen who report a steady flow of ticket complaints.

And while the answer is a decided “No, that’s not the city’s intention,”you couldn’t tell that by the conflicting information Hughes received before reaching out to me Wednesday about how to keep it from happening again.

The issue of small trucks parked on residential streets, whether work vehicles or personal pickup trucks, is a long-running bone of contention in Chicago neighborhoods.

Usually, the dispute involves individuals wanting to park their trucks outside their homes — and neighbors who object. That was the impetus for a long-standing city ordinance that restricts commercial truck parking.

Hughes, 43, who lives in the city’s Jefferson Park neighborhood, appreciates those concerns — and accordingly parks his white Ford Econoline overnight in his garage at home to avoid any problems.

But he couldn’t figure out how he was supposed to conduct his business without his truck.

He’d run into the same problem previously a year or two ago, but the tickets then were just $25. After making inquiries, Hughes decided it was easier to pay the fine and chalk it up as the cost of doing business.

This year, however, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration increased the truck parking fine to $75, and that ticket wasn’t as easy to swallow.

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