Sunday, April 11, 2010

Leslie's Lack of Leadership: Case #1

posted by chicago pop

When it comes to 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, this blog has one thing to say:

FEBRUARY 22, 2011

That's the date of the next city elections in Chicago. In an ideal world, it should be the last day of Alderman Hairston's job.

There are a lot of reasons why we think this -- serial instances of disastrous community leadership running from the Promontory Point fiasco, her utter invisibility in the Doctors Hospital controversy, through to her bizarre power plays in the replacement of popular bus stops with free parking, and most recently, her protection of the stealthy NIMBYs roosting next to the Shoreland Hotel property at 5490 South Shore Drive (more on that, later).

But let's start with something simple. Hairston is holding a meeting next Thursday (see details at bottom) on the subject of new parking pay boxes being installed in Jackson Park and surrounding areas.

This latest circus act promises to involve the shooting of a hapless Chicago Park District in its barrel by Hairston, one of five Aldermen who voted against the parking deal. (We've given our opinion on the deal here). You can argue that the deal was a bad one, but it's done. And you can't argue that free parking optimizes access or is equitable. In fact, as has become visible in streets throughout the city, it's now easier to park almost everywhere.

Peruse, if you will, the following news article, forwarded to us from an exasperated reader living in East Hyde Park. As usual, EDITORIAL REMARKS ARE INSERTED IN PARENTHESES:

A South Side alderman is blasting the Chicago Park District over its moves to put parking meter “pay and display” boxes in South Side parks and other facilities. (YOU VOTED AGAINST IT ALDERMAN, BUT IT'S NOW IN EFFECT CITYWIDE. WHY SHOULD YOUR CONSTITUENTS BE EXEMPT?)

5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston says some residents in her area were upset (NO KIDDING -- PEOPLE LIKE FREE STUFF) when they saw pay and display parking meter boxes being installed in the park near the Museum of Science and Industry, the South Shore Cultural Center and even (EVEN!) near some basketball courts.

Chicago Park District Spokeswoman Jessica Maxey Faulkner says the metered spaces are no surprise (EXCEPT FOR LESLIE HAIRSTON). She says the North Side parks already have meters, and plans for the South Side parks were announced some time ago (BUT SOUTH SIDE NIMBY'S ARE SPECIAL).

Alderman Hairston says there should have been a public meeting first (WAY TO GO WITH THAT FAR-SIGHTED LEADERSHIP THING). Maxey Faulkner says the boxes will not be activated until a meeting takes place later this month (AND THEN THE BOXES WILL BE PUT UP ANYWAY AND HAIRSTON WILL KEEP HER VOTES ANYWAY).

Analyzing this situation, what do we find? A number of aggrieved people who think that the public streets in Hyde Park-Woodlawn-Jackson Park are somehow not a part of the now private meter franchise that manages parking for ALL OF CHICAGO, including LAKEFRONT AND CITY PARK PROPERTY. Acting on a matter of principle, they chose not to complain when pay boxes were installed elsewhere, but only when it eventually affected them.

Not only is the upcoming publicity stunt wrong-headed in its probable defense of free parking, but it is only one of many examples of the way Hairston acts to appease every NIMBY reflex in the 5th Ward.

Help get Antheus rolling along with the Shoreland, Alderman, instead of putting on floor shows like this one.


Meeting Date: Thursday, April 15 2010

Time: 6:30 PM

Montgomery Place 5550 S. Shore Drive

For more info call: 773-324-5555


David Farley said...

Not all of the north side parks are metered. I parked at Foster a couple weeks ago for a race, and it wasn't metered. I also ran through several other parking lots around Montrose that were not metered.

I wouldn't mind seeing a parking system similar to Wisconsin parks. You park once or twice at Nordic Trail at Kettle Moraine, you pay a flat fee. You want to park more than that, you pay a fee and get a sticker good for the rest of the year. In fact, at KM they keep records and if they see you paying the second time, they give you the yearly sticker instead (and apply your fee from your first parking to the cost of the yearly permit - how cool is that?). The evil of the parking meter system is that it seems to be deliberately designed to create hassle, violations, and fines.

Is there a map somewhere that shows what exactly is to be metered?

David Farley said...

I can answer one of my own questions from the Chicago Park District site.

The S. Shore Drive metering is annoying. S. Shore between 53rd and 55th is usually half-empty most times of the year except summer weekends, and is easy overflow for people willing to walk a block or two. This is going to lead to nothing other than demands for permit parking in the rest of E. Hyde Park.

Display Locations

* 63rd St./Hayes & Lake Shore Dr.
* Broadway Armory
Broadway & Thorndale
* South Shore Cultural Center
7059 S. South Shore Dr.
* 63rd St. Beach House*
* Jackson Park Driving Range*
* Touhy & Sheridan Rd. (Loyola Park)**
* Lunt East of Sheridan Rd. (Loyola Park)**
* 31st St. Beach*

Anticipated Opening
April 2010

* 39th St. & Lake Shore Drive*
* Lot East of Museum of Science and Industry*
* 55th St. & South Shore Drive

Anticipated Opening
Spring 2010

* Hayes Street Boat Launch*
* Hayes and Cornell*
* Lot South of Museum of Science and Industry*
* Rainbow Beach Lots*
* Waveland & Lake Shore Dr.
* Foster & Simonds
* Montrose Harbor
* Wilson & Lake Shore Dr.
* 47th Street & Cornell

$1.00/Hour 9 am - 9 pm
$0.25/Hour 9 pm - 9 am

*These lots are closed and locked from 11:00 pm thru 6:00 am.

**Pursuant to agreement with Ald. Joe Moore, no payment is required from 7pm to 9am. Contribution of aldermanic funds to be used for Chicago Park District capital improvements.

chicago pop said...

The problem with the flat rate/fee system in the Wisconsin example is that is does nothing to manage congestion through pricing. I'm guessing that these are fairly low-use systems in which the objective is to capture enough revenue to maintain the system, rather than to manage demand.

Now, the pricing structure that LAZ has implemented throughout Chicago is rudimentary and not nearly as sophisticated as some systems being tested elsewhere, but it does have the virtue of managing demand. People can no longer park forever at metered public parking for ridiculously low rates. This effectively amounts to a first-come-first-serve system, which is neither equitable in terms of access nor is it fair in terms of charging market rate sufficient to match the value of the good provided.

I don't know what the rollout is for meters in parks, but as with the rest of the city they will probably come in phases and I would not assume that any particular area will be exempted, and I wouldn't argue that it should be.

chicago pop said...

I'll add with reference to Hairston, that she does not have a track record of progressive positions on parking and transportation demand management. She has refused to cooperate with the University in placing more bus stops around the Hospital and Science campus to allow for greater transit access to the University center. The Maroon made the point back in early 2008:

[Director of Campus Transportation and Parking Services Brian] Shaw ... has been trying to get a bus stop for the #174 El shuttle between Cottage Grove and Ellis Avenues since the route was introduced a year-and-a-half ago, but the alderman’s concerns about parking halted his efforts.

A few folks may remember the related episode , back in Feb/March 2008, when Hairston yanked a bus stop so that 4 parking places could be added to a stretch of University Avenue.

All the signs are that Hairston's instinct is to preserve free parking. That game is over. She's deceiving her constituents if she thinks otherwise.

Patrick said...

Does the South Shore Drive metering refer to metering along South Shore Drive itself or does it refer to metering in the Park District lot just south of 55th St?

The lot that is intended for visitors to the park but is in fact used principally by inhabitants of the nearby highrises (whose doormen apparently have keys to unlock it after it ostensibly closes at 11pm).

chicago pop said...

I'm not sure what parts of 55th and South Shore Drive are slotted for pay boxes (I'd need to see maps etc). The lot across from the Flamingo would probably benefit from pay box metering, to encourage turnover, to reduce freeloading from nearby residents, and to each lakefront access at times of peak demand.

Patrick said...

I strongly suspect it is the lot. I believe this whole program is a Park District initiative to expand metered parking in their lots as opposed to on streets adjoining parks. I think everything listed in David's list is a lot (47th and Cornell, for example, refers to the lot at the Burnham Paririe). Some north side lots, like Diversey harbor, have long had coin meters, and this expansion represents an effort to raise revenue and encourage turnover. I support it wholeheartedly. There are plenty of neighborhoods that are short on parks and access to the lakefront. It seems at odds with the mission of the park district for folks in those neighborhoods to drive over to the lake and find the park district lots filled with long-term neighborhood parkers.

David Farley said...

In reference to the 55th St./South Shore parking, I just noticed this, which seems to be offering monthly permits. Can somebody decipher the map of what is actually being metered? (It looks like it's the lot, like Patrick suggested.)


chicago pop said...

The cost for a monthly E-permit in that lot will be $125/mo, not $50. The smaller figure is prorated for the portion of the month beginning April 19. Looks like the lot is the one we all think it is.

As of April 19, 2010 payment will be required for parking at the Chicago Park District’s 55th St. and S. Shore Dr. lake front lot. As of this date payment can be made on a daily basis by parking in one of the marked “Pay & Display” spaces and paying the multi-space meter, or you may purchase a monthly parking “E-Permit” for this lot and park in any of the spaces marked for permit parking.

Daily parking rates at 55th St. and S. Shore Dr. will be $1.00 per hour between 9:00 am and 9:00 pm, and $0.25 per hour between 9:00 pm and 9:00 am. A monthly parking E-Permit may be purchased for $125.00 plus a $4.00 transaction fee.

Chicago_mom said...

Re: chicago pop's comment: "....
The problem with the flat rate/fee system in the Wisconsin example is that is does nothing to manage congestion through pricing...."

Well said, chicago pop! This chicago mom agrees with you 100 percent. We are taking small steps towards allocating our scarce parking spots in a more sensible fashion--a big win, in my view.

Of course, since the change also creates "losers"--people who are worse off--, it's probably a good idea to funnel some special benefits towards those folks.

No, I don't mean free parking in south side parks....but I do mean that the city should be directing some of those parking deal revenues towards improved services--parks, recreation, cultural--for city residents. Is that happening? Hard to say, but even without solid evidence on that, I think the parking meters make a lot of sense.

m said...

I live just across the lot in question. From my experience of living here for a few years, I affirm what Patrick said is right. The lot is mainly used by residents of the high-rises on the street. Alongside the South Shore Drive also has parking spaces, which are usually more preferred by the residents. But when you cannot find a spot on the Drive, you go to the lot. It is rarely full except for some times of the year.

The lot serves outside visitors very limited times of the year: Friday nights from Spring to Fall, and all day in Summer. i.e. Bar Louie partiers and 57th beach swimmers. They take over the drive parking spots and the lot. (and get drunk and make noises all night :() I have so many experiences that I could not find any spot that I had to drive around and around. It's especially frustrating in the night, because I don't want to park too far and walk the street to home.

I always wonder if it's possible to make the drive as residential permit spots? It would be even more needed so, if they are going to install meters in the lot. Otherwise partiers and swimmers will more likely to take over the free spots on the drive. If that makes residents to park in the lot and pay hourly rate, it's a wag the dog.

I do not oppose to have meters in the lot. Actually I kind of welcome them in hope that they will help to regulate those late night rackets. I just want it to be thought out better so that it works as it is supposed to.

Oh, and one more thing. If they are going to charge, they should FIX the lot. Once you drive in, you will notice gigantic potholes everywhere. Also all lines are obscure. I have not complained because it was free. If not anymore, I demand to fix it.

TA said...

Having been the one to mention this to Chicago Pop, I thought that I would weigh in too. Most of what m says is right. The lot and the street parking are mainly used by residents and drunken Bar Louie patrons (its never fun calling the police on them at 3 am). I also worry that with pay parking in the lot and not on the street that people will ignore the lot and use all of the street parking without a permit system.

Of course, I would go and support discussion on this if I thought that Alderman Hairston was going to use this meeting to constructively talk about solutions for the neighborhood. However, her record shows that this will almost definitely not happen. This is a grandstanding publicity plea from a politician a year before an election. This will play out the same way that the Shoreland debate did: Leslie allows irate condo owners from 5490 and the surrounding businesses chew out hapless outside officials (Antheus reps in the Shoreland, Park District officials in this case) while collecting her votes/donations.

It also makes me question how negligent she is about prospective changes in her community. I tend to believe the reports that the Park District people had held discussions about this and made it known that they would be charging for parking in their lots. Just back in October at the Shoreland meeting Leslie promised to keep tabs on the parking situation and work with the park district. Where has she been in the 6 months since? Either she's been blindly catering to the 40 or so residents of 5490 S Shore and forgotten everything else or she made the politically conniving decision to ignore this until the Park District pulled the trigger and she could come in as the White Knight Defender of Hyde Park Parking.

Instead of promoting real change in the community by supporting the Shoreland renovations or making 57th 2 way at Stony, she sandbags real change to support the status-quo and round up enough votes to carry on. Hopefully someone can step up this election as the real candidate for improving Hyde Park. This would take patience, listening ability, a vision for the community, and the force of personality to actually make decisions.

chicago pop said...

Where has Alderman Hairston been these last 6 months, asks reader TA? Well, most recently, in Pittsburgh, where she traveled at her "own expense" to evangelize on the evils of parking meter privatization.

Chicago official warns Pittsburgh about parking leases

I wonder if she is willing to make pro bono appearances on other matters of principle in which she has been involved, such as how to scuttle a major hotel development project that would have employed the low income people in her ward. Or how not to get a Target branch on Stony Island. Or perhaps an elightened talk on how to properly engage in brinksmanship with a local property owner regarding the redevelopoment of a major historic property like the Shoreland in order to curry a few votes at 5490?

Perhaps she sees her grandstanding vis-a-vis the Chicago Park District as the latest salvo in this rearguard and noble action against privatization. Unfortunately, TA draws a more likely interpretation from the facts and I thank him for drawing our attention to it. Hairston is grandstanding in the purest form.

Instead of harping on a sour deal made over a year ago -- which nonetheless has a positive base that can be refined -- Hairston should be working with LAZ and the Park District to implement a rational and high-tech method of accurately pricing local parking based on changing demand.

LPB said...

TA asks: Where has Hairston been the last six months since the October meeting at the Shoreland?

Well, apparently she's been traveling to let other cities know they should not privatize their parking.

Gee, maybe she'll decide to quit the aldermanic gig and start up her own consulting firm to advise municipalities on parking issues.

TA said...

The sad part is that she was at least partially right on the parking thing when she voted against the city deal. The LAZ was a terrible deal for the city and while it will bring more efficient parking, the price was nowhere near accurate for that long a lease. She is also partially right in raising concerns on this parking. Without permits for the rest of S. Shore Drive, what Bar Louie and park vistors will park in the lot when they can park free just outside?

However, she suffers from the terrible Windy City politician's affliction of preferring blowing smoke instead of advocating good governance. We haven't seen one good faith gesture from her in the last two years to even remotely indicate that she can work constructively with various parts of the Hyde Park community or different agencies in the city. Instead she wants to rile up select interest groups that she knows will remember her when the election rolls around.

chicago pop said...

Yes the meter deal was a very mixed bag. We wrote at the time that it was the right idea for the wrong reasons (see link above).