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Aldermen crackdown on vehicles abandoned on city lots

Abandoned cars

Ald. Chris Taliaferro (left) and Ald. Jason Ervin at a City Council meeting at City Hall on Feb. 28, 2018. Ervin said he’s trying to solve a chronic problem caused by “No Parking” signs placed on vacant lots that are supposed to serve as legal notice to vehicle owners, but disappear within days. | Brian Jackson/For the Sun-Times

Motorists who abandon vehicles on vacant city-owned lots would have hard-to-remove stickers slapped on their windshields, followed by a tow seven days later, under a crackdown advanced Tuesday.

West Side Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) said he’s trying to solve a chronic problem caused by “No Parking” signs placed on vacant lots that are supposed to serve as legal notice to vehicle owners, but disappear within days.

“I’ve got one lot with weeds growing up all around the car but, because the car is not hazardous, the city can’t tow it, even though it’s on one of our parcels,” Ervin told his colleagues at Tuesday’s Budget Committee meeting.

“This will help the department remove some of the blight and challenges we have. We want to give the department a tool to deal with a lot of these vacant lots and vehicles that aren’t necessarily hazardous.”

The ordinance advanced by the Budget Committee would work in the same way that stickers are affixed to the windshields of vehicles abandoned on the public way, Ervin said.

“If it’s not hazardous, the seven-day sticker is placed on the window and, if the vehicle is not moved within seven days, then the city can tow their vehicles. The same would apply to a vehicle parked on a vacant parcel,” he said.

Ald. Michael Scott (24th) said he has the same problem with “No Parking” signs disappearing from vacant lots virtually overnight.

“This is a really helpful ordinance. North Lawndale. East and West Garfield. This issue happens on the regular,” Scott said.

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) said he has been locked in a never-ending struggle to control the “300-plus vacant lots” in West Englewood.

“What I have done … is purchase 500 of those corrugated signs. Just like many of us have done with dog poop, I’ve also done city of Chicago `No Parking’ signs and put ’em in the lots. If they disappear, we put ’em in day-in and day-out. Especially on lots where we know we’ve had troubled issues,” Lopez said.

“But I am thankful that I don’t have to purchase these signs anymore with this ordinance. That we’ll be able to empower our ward supe and Streets and Sanitation to do what they’ve got to do without harassing the police on hazardous tows,” he said. “I know all of our residents will be ecstatic to finally get these cars out quicker, faster and easier.”

Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) said he supports the crackdown. But he asked Ervin what would happen to a vehicle slapped with a seven-day sticker, moved, then parked on the vacant lot again two days later.

“Does that time period start again?” Cochran said.

Ervin replied, “In theory, if your car is moved, then that clock stops. It has to re-start.”