Locals question City’s motives for frequent 18th St. cleaning
July 8, 2017

By Jake Ekdahl

Restrictive street cleaning on both sides of 18th Street in Pilsen has resulted in
many tickets being written against local residents. (Photo by Christopher Valentino)

A parking space in Pilsen has been a rare commodity for some time. Now, on 18th Street between Halsted Street and Damen Avenue, the City has added another layer of difficulty through frequent street sweeping, prompting some to think that the City is using this sudden commitment to cleanliness as a means for generating more revenue through parking tickets.

Residents and visitors are forced to move their cars for street cleaning twice per week. According to Erika Harris, a spokesperson for Alderman Danny Solis (25th Ward), “18th Street is cleaned Mondays and Thursdays on the south side of the street, and Tuesdays and Fridays on the north side of the street, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.”

Vehicles parked there during those times receive tickets—which range in cost from $50 to $100— even when the street cleaners do not show up, which has been known to happen.

“I used to park my car on 18th and have gotten tickets before, but the street was not clean,” said Byron Sigcho, director of the Pilsen Alliance. “There is no alternative parking, and parking in Pilsen has definitely become a big issue.”

When asked if the frequency of the street cleaning was unusual, Harris said, “other arterial streets are cleaned as frequently as 18th, such as Cermak.”

“The alderman is well aware of this problem,” Sigcho said. “But he has continued to approve big projects even though residents have testified publicly on the lack of alternative parking.”

Large developments will create more traffic and further exacerbate parking scarcity, Sigcho said, noting that cars purged from the street twice a week will cause the situation to spill over into alternate parking areas.

Harris countered, “Residents can park anywhere with permitted parking other than on 18th during street sweeping days, which are clearly marked.”

“I think political clout really makes the difference,” Sigcho said. “I think there has been more frequent cleaning on 18th as businesses with more political clout have moved in and demand more services.”

He noted that Thalia Hall at 1807 S. Allport St., for example, gets “police officers routinely coming to check on their premises.”

Parking enforcement personnel “have become more aggressive than they were in the past,” Sigcho said. “Ticketing is more frequent than it was.

“I think the City in general is in need of cash, and this has affected businesses on 18th Street who do not have parking, as tickets are frequent and it is a cost added to the cost of their products,” he noted.

“I think we need to have feasibility studies on density to match parking,” Sigcho continued. “Otherwise, we set residents to be a target of tickets that affect them and businesses and in general the community. It is a nightmare to find parking sometimes in some areas, and things are getting worse with more and more condos, fewer family homes, and no alternative parking while police and private companies are going hard on tickets.”

Pilsen senior citizen Hortencia Arrieta has had particular difficulty. She said she has tried to contact Solis but has not heard back from him. With parking limited on 18th Street, she feels too many cars are parking in her neighborhood.

“For me it is really hard,” she said. “I can hardly walk, and the doctor says now it is getting worse. I’m getting worse every day. Everybody brings their car over here, everybody.”

Some have offered creative solutions for car owners in the form of mobile apps. Sweeparound.us — allows a user to enter an address and receive information about the next scheduled street cleaning.

Email alerts and text messages also are available. To contact Solis, call (773) 523-4100.