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Wicker Park Merchants Say New Meters On Division Street Have Hurt Business

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Wicker Park neighborhood business owners have banned together to fight parking frustrations – claiming the recent installation of meters has hurt business.

CBS 2's Steven Graves dug into complaints Tuesday and found out that an alderman is taking to an online survey to try to address concerns.

Right now, a petition is also circulating among businesses along Division Street, after owners said parking meters and signs went up without notice within the last few weeks.

It's a question business owner Lauryn Keenan keeps hearing.

"People are like 'Ugh, is there parking here now?'" Keenan said.

Indeed, it's a divisive issue along Division Street.

"Where before, people would come in and they would say 'Do you have to pay for parking on Division?'" Keenan said. "We're like, 'No.' They're like, 'This is great!'"

"Now that we come here, we want to enjoy an expensive meal, we also have to pay expensive parking," said downtown resident Samuel Rivera.

People say the free spaces made the area unique, but admitted it was still hard to park, as cars would stay on the street for weeks at time.

"Yes, but I think that's a byproduct of the residential parking," Keenan said.

Either way, business owners say parking meters were not the answer.

We wondered how they even got here.

A representative of the office of Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) said the meters caught them off guard.

Parking meter company LAZ said an ordinance approved in January under former alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno gave it the right to install them.

Now, La Spata's office says it has the right to remove or alter the meters between Damen Avenue and Wood Street.

The local chambers of commerce are now using an online survey to gauge opinion. The results could lead to an opposing ordinance.

The deadline for responses to that survey is actually Tuesday evening. Many residents wonder if it will even make a difference.

We'll keep you posted.

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