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Getting the boot: West Loop leads city in cars clamped, but South Side also high

If motorists park their cars on the Near West Side and in several South Side neighborhoods, the chances are they'll find a boot on their vehicles, according to recent figures released to aldermen on opening day of City Council budget hearings on Tuesday. Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

Motorists who park their cars in the booming West Loop and Near West Side have gotten the boot more times this year than other neighborhoods, according to figures released to aldermen last week.

The 27th Ward, which includes parts of the Near West and North sides and is represented by Ald. Walter Burnett, topped the list with 1,374 boot scofflaws from Jan. 1-June 30 of this year.

The 41st Ward, which includes O’Hare Airport, was third, with 1,033 boots.

But overall, eight of the 10 most booted wards in the city are on the South and West sides.

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Ald. Leslie Harrison’s 5th ward, which includes South Shore and Hyde Park, had 1,007 cars clamped.

That comes as no surprise to LaVont’e Stewart Sr., a South Shore resident. He received tickets for the same offense within hours of each other from different city workers last summer.

“I want to use the word ‘victim’ here,” said Stewart, the founder of Lost Boyz Inc., a nonprofit that uses baseball to teach civic awareness. ” … It makes you think about why black communities are ticketed and booted more.”

Overall, booting citywide so far this year has dropped by 10.5 percent, to 30,275 vehicles, when compared to the same time period last year

City boot crews work from a list of more than 500,000 eligible license plates, many registered to motorists living outside the city.

Kristen Cabanban, a spokeswoman for the city’s Office of Budget and Management and Department of Finance, said no wards are targeted for more enforcement, and the city will set up payment plans for those who have trouble paying.

“While booters are deployed equitably throughout the city, booting is an option of last resort. To help residents avoid financial penalties and booting, the Department of Finance encourages motorists enroll in one of the various payment plans — including hardship payment plans,” she said.

Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) believes the numbers given to the council doesn’t tell the entire story of why so many vehicles are booted in her ward. Her ward, which includes Bronzeville, saw 1,300 cars nabbed so far this year, the second highest total.

“I think more analysis is needed. I have ‘L’ stops in the ward. A lot of people will park in the South Loop near the Green Line, and they may owe the city money,” Dowell said. “I don’t find it unusual. My ward includes the South Loop, so many people are in and out of the area.”

Stewart agrees that parkers need to be accountable. However, he still believes the city targets certain communities.

“A large part of it is about self-awareness and being responsible, along with knowing the rules. One the other hand, it makes you think about why black communities are ticketed and booted more,” Stewart said. “It’s like double jeopardy in the criminal justice system. It’s like people are being targeted.”

And fines of $200, for example, are “a lot for some people. If it is between the window sticker and uniform for their kids schools, most parents will pay for uniforms instead.”

 

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