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After winter of little snow and lots of tows, Chicago alderman wants changes to winter parking ban

7,745 cars were towed for winter parking ban despite little snow in Chicago
7,745 cars were towed for winter parking ban despite little snow in Chicago 02:57

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Even with the mild winter this year, thousands of Chicago drivers faced headaches dealing with the overnight parking ban that is in place every year between Dec. 1 and April 1.

A lack of very much snow notwithstanding, the city towed the most vehicles in two years for violating the overnight parking ban.

Every year, Chicagoans find their vehicles getting towed starting Dec. 1 if they leave those vehicles parked overnight between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. on certain select roads.

Chicago tows all 121 days the ban is in effect – regardless of whether there is snow. And it is safe to say not much snow was seen in Chicago last year – between December and April, just 15 out of that total of 121 days had measurable snowfall.

But a total of 7,745 vehicles got hauled off the streets altogether.

"That 7,700 number just seems way too high," said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).

Waguespack is pushing to make changes to the parking ban. The ban has not seen any modifications since 1980, a year after Mayor Jane Byrne had campaigned and won on a better snow plan and parking restrictions.

"We have the First Alert Weather team giving us better data through technology," Waguespack said. "We have a lot of things that the old system, as it sits, could definitely use an upgrade, amendment, or scrapping altogether and starting over."

CBS 2 has pressed the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation repeatedly on whether it's time to change up the ban. Back in November, CBS 2 sat down with Streets and San Commissioner Cole Stallard, and asked why people are facing at least $235 for tickets and tow and storage fees, when Chicago's winters produce less snow.

Terry: "This just seems like a big money grab to them. How do you respond to that?"

Stallard: "As far as money grab, it's pretty much - the money grab's not there. Please understand that."

CBS 2 showed the department how other cities don't ban parking all winter.

The City of Detroit gives residents 48 hours' notice when 3 inches of snow or more is expected. Minneapolis residents can park on alternate sides of the street – and even when there is a snow emergency, residents may park once a street is plowed while the emergency continues.

"They should be allowed to, I think, stay in those locations until there's an actual emergency," said Waguespack.

Waguespack said with all the technology, it's time for Chicago to ease up – much like the city's snowy winters have been.

"It doesn't take that much effort to do a comprehensive study to realize that the system is broken," Waguespack said.

Waguespack said it is time to take a resolution to the City Council, or bring up revamping the winter parking ban to the Transportation Committee on which he sits.

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