Parking bans to help local residents in South, West Loop
August 4, 2017

In an effort to preserve parking for local residents and businesses, community groups in the South Loop and West Loop have worked with their aldermanic representatives to establish partial parking bans designed to prevent drivers from outside the area from using day-long free parking.

Those “day trippers,” local officials said, take advantage of the street parking and then travel by public transportation to the Loop and other areas with pricier parking.

The restriction effort will preserve more parking for those living and working in each specific area.

The South Loop ban prohibits vehicles without parking permits from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday next to and just south of Dearborn Park on Plymouth Court from 9th Street to Roosevelt Road and on South Park Terrace from 8th Street to Roosevelt Park at 62 W. Roosevelt Rd. Officials reinstated the restrictions after lifting a previous ban last year because it had not been completed as an ordinance.

Prentice Butler, director of constituent services for 4th Ward Alderman Sophia King, said the alderman wants to cooperate with community groups “to see if this will work.”

“This is a residential enclave, and therefore there is a concern about traffic,” Butler said.

That concern has spread to other parts of the South Loop. Rudy Barcenas, assistant director of the Near South Planning Board, said his office receives complaints from local businesses along State Street and Michigan Avenue that need space for their employees as well as customers. He said he is not certain what officials may propose to help local businesses.

In the West Loop, local leaders had scheduled a proposal to come before the City Council to restrict outside parking from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. in an area bounded by Ashland Avenue, Green Street, Washington Boulevard, and Van Buren Street.

Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. of the 27th Ward said he had sufficient City Council support and that, once the ordinance won approval, workers would install signage by the end of the summer.

“This was really motivated by businesses and residents, and we wanted to be sensitive to that,” Burnett said. “This is becoming a hot neighborhood, so it’s the price of success. We want suburban business, but we also want to balance that with the need of our residents and others who need parking on a regular basis.”

Burnett said parking structures may be a future solution.

At least one organization leader prefers to not build structures until it is absolutely necessary. West Central Association president Armando Chacon said parking has been an issue in the West Loop for at least the last 12 years.

“Over that time, the neighborhood has evolved and the situation has become worse,” he said. “Two or three years ago there was a task force and there was a pilot program” that banned early afternoon parking. “Permit parking was instituted on some streets. So there have been a few things done. This proposed ban is the next measure.”

Chacon said a recent parking study showed that 84% of current parking remains unrestricted.

“For a long time, that wasn’t a problem,” he said. “We are kind of a mixed neighborhood with parking needs for residents, businesses, and office users. We are trying to tip the scales a little more in favor of those who live and work here.” He opposes parking structures at this time because “We don’t want to change the character of the neighborhood,” he said.

He does not see any parking measures as a complete fix.

“No policy will fully solve the problem,” Chacon said. “I think the initial reaction to this proposal is mostly positive.”

Chacon said parking issues in the city’s neighborhoods also draw attention to alternate transportation as well as costs.

“I ride my bike whenever I can,” he said. “We should walk and take public transportation more. If you drive to the Gold Coast or other expensive areas, you find meters and structures. The cost elicits turnover in parking.”   

—Rick Romano