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Businesses Take 'Half-Full' Approach To Parking Meter Deal

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With Chicago parking meter rates due to rise again after the first of the year, some business advocates say there are two sides to the controversy over how the meter lease deal has affected businesses in the city.

"Eat, drink and be merry this holiday season and keep your money local," said city treasurer Stephanie Neely, who is encouraging Chicagoans to buy from neighborhood merchants.

Some small businesses complain that the parking meter deal, which took effect four years ago and has raised the cost of parking each year, has hurt or even killed business.

But, Omar Duque with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says it's not so clear-cut.

"Many of the businesses that we work with and we've talked to actually appreciate the fact that now, their customers have a place to park. Because in the past, it was somebody's employee or somebody that lived in the neighborhood that either parked for free and left their car there all day and so when customers would come, there'd be no place to park."

They spoke at a kickoff of a campaign called "Unwrap Chicago," aimed at persuading Chicagoans to spend their money with local merchants this holiday season.

After Jan. 1, the hourly cost of parking at a meter will rise to $6.50 in the Loop, $4 in other downtown areas and $2 in Chicago's neighborhoods.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger Reports


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