Friday, January 21, 2011

Confused By the Soldier Field Events Parking Restrictions?

Just in time for the final Bears game of the season, a concerned Sloopite details a frustrating and confusing street parking episode:

Hi Sloopin,

I wanted to write you about a situation I am currently in the middle of involving parking in the South Loop during the Soldier Field events. From the information I have gathered, there have been many victims of this same misunderstanding.

When I returned home from out of town on Saturday night, I tried parking in my usual permit only area around 14th and State. There were no spots available, so I found one on 14th Place. As we all do, I checked the signs and the only restriction was "No Parking 2 hrs before Soldier Fields Events and 1 hr after except vehicles displaying resident permits". I knew there was a Bears game the next day, but I had a "Residential Permit" clearly displayed in my shield
with the local neighborhood permit area listed on it as well.

I went to leave on Monday night to go to my hockey league and my car was nowhere to be found. I went online and found it at the Sacramento impound lot. I took a cab to the impound lot for $15. At the impound lot, the attendant told me that there has been many people saying they also had the correct permits displayed according to the signs and they too were towed and I can request a hearing to dispute the tow charge. I had to pay $170 to get my car out and hurried on to my hockey game.

On Tuesday, I called the number on my tow stub to schedule my hearing and they told me I was supposed to do that at the impound lot or I could write a letter and wait three weeks for a reply. This perturbed me since I was not offered to schedule a hearing even after complaining about the towing. I was also told that it is not the city that is towing the vehicles but yet another vendor the city has hired and I can take my complaint up to their supervisor.

On a side note, a friend of mine was also towed a few months ago for a Solider Field event and he said there was a line of people there with the same argument then.

I then called Alderman Bob Fioretti's office to explain that there seems that many of their local citizens are being abused by the tow truck operators towing their vehicles despite having the correct permits displayed. The person on the phone explained to me that there is yet another permit (besides the City parking sticker and the neighborhood permit sticker) that you need to have to park during Solider Field events. I said fair enough, but the signs do not say "except vehicles displaying a Soldier Field event permit" but says a "resident permit" of which I (and many others) believed we had. They asked me to bring photos in to show them. Thanks for the proactive help.

So that is where I stand now. I have spent almost $200 to get my car out of impound that was improperly towed in the first place and still have to return to an impound lot to schedule a hearing to argue my case. So it will be weeks before I have a chance to get my money back.

I am curious how many Sloopin readers have been in similar situations with the Soldier Field events parking? I really believe they need to pay attention to the "resident permits" that we have all paid to have to park in the area or else change the signage to require a "Soldier Field event permit".


A Concerned Sloopite

Personally we haven't had a problem, but we agree these signs are confusing. What do others think?


MarkChicago said...

Doesn't surprise me, but the question I have is what qualifies as a "Soldier Field event"? Are parkers supposed to know what is going on there on any given day? I was towed some time ago for not realizing the Bears played on a Thursday. Being a college fb fan, this was news to me. The sign should have dates or direct to a website tbat does.

Anonymous said...

I guess from the east side of state onwards, there is no residential permit parking. I am east of state, and I automatically get a Soldier Field parking permit sent to me every year. I get a sticker for the car, and then a postcard one for a guest. It seems the line between the east and west side of state st is arbitrary.

Anonymous said...

I wish the Alderman's office sent out a calendar of the Soldier Field events to the residents of the Sloop as a gentle reminder, but you can call 311 to find out if there is an event going on that qualifies.

There is a second permit that you need, and it is called a resident permit, but it is for a smaller area than the regular resident permits, i.e. only for those that live in the "Soldier Field Event" radius. I always thought the need for the 2nd permit was pretty common knowledge?
- D

Anonymous said...

I feel you pain...Mayor Daley got his Christmas money from me this year.

I have lived off state street for 3 years, and I came home from out of town late Saturday from a Christmas gathering. The Bears played the next day. Normally I have a garage spot that I park my car, but since my parents were in town I let them park there. Since they do not have a "Resident Permit" on their car that I have on mine I figured I would park on the street so they would not get towed.

I went to go move my car back to my garage spot the next day when my parents were leaving town and found that it had been towed. I found myself in the same situation as you. I think the signs are misleading because I also found out that there is a seperate Solder Field event permit that must be displayed.

I understand the reason for the parking restrictions. Its meant to elimate people driving in from out of town for the game from parking on the street and allow neighborhood residents to have parking where they live. However, I think it is stupid to have an additional sticker on your car just for a few Bears game a year. I pay for my city sticker and resident permit and display that on my windshield. Shouldn't that be enough to show that I live in the neighborhood and have a right to park there?

Anonymous said...

I wish the Alderman's office included a schedule of Soldier Field events in his mailings, much like the magnets realators give out with Cubs/Sox/Bears/Hawks/Bulls schedules on them. That said, you can always call 311 to find out if there is an event going on.

I always thought the need for the Soldier Field Resident parking permit (a 2nd one, in addition to the regular resident permit for zone parking) was common knowledge?

Anonymous said...

It is confusing, but I know that the areas around Wrigley and US Cellular Field have the same setup. I think most people learn the "rules" when their car gets towed the first time.

Anonymous said...

There is residential zone parking E of State St, like on 16th/Indiana area and Prairie/18th and Calumet. It is a good thing too or the residents would likely have no parking on game days. The signs in the area are the same as the one in the photo so I figured that my residential sticker would suffice too. Fortunately I haven't parked there during game days or been ticketed/towed but now I will actually use that Soldier Field pass that is sent to me every year. Thanks for the head up!

Anonymous said...

i have a residential parking pass but where do i get the event parking pass?

Anonymous said...

Yeah the need for the 2nd permit is "common knowledge" only after you get towed.

Anonymous said...

I also had the issue that you had and got towed and ticketed on that Sunday. I found out from the doorman from my building that there was a separate pass for Bears game. I saw what it looked like and it expired after the last home game. I just wonder now if people got another Bears specific parking because if they didn't, there's another issue.

Anonymous said...

If your city sticker includes zoned parking, it should cover the need for a Soldier Field event permit/pass. This is the first year that they've done that and said that you DON'T have to have the separate Soldier Field event parking permit/pass. I don't have the event pass in front of me, but somewhere on it, on the front, it does say something to the effect of "if you have a zoned parking permit, you do not need the event parking pass." The Alderman's office should know about this, since they are the office that sends out the permit and made the change this year or at least administered the change. If they don't know about it, then that's a HUGE problem and shows their inability to manage the situation, amongst other administration issues.

Although, several weeks ago, I did get ticketed one day for "park in violation of residential parking permit (RPP) zone)" while I DO have a city sticker that includes my 599 zoned parking permit. I did not have the Soldier Field event pass in my windshield and it did happen to be a Sunday of a Bears game. I didn't get towed, thankfully. I did contest the ticket, explaining that I got a ticket for not having zoned parking permit when in fact the picture of my city sticker proves the 599 right on there. We'll see what happens, but the alderman's office/CPD/Dept of Revenue do need to figure it out.

I find that people are confused on streets like Michigan Ave.--- they see many available spots, and think if they pay the box, they are ok. You DO need a resident/guest Soldier Field event permit/pass to park there, in addition to paying the box.

It is very confusing. You get the Soldier Field event pass from the Alderman's office and it says on the front that it lasts through the season, so this year's pass says 2010- August 2011.

Anonymous said...

When I first moved into the hood at the beginning of the Bears season last year I was confused as well. However, I took a picture of the sign and brought it to city hall when I was getting my city sticker. They informed me that I needed a Soldier Field Event Permit, it’s free from my Alderman's office. Only problem was it wasn't her office in City Hall, I had to go to her main office on 51st and State. So yeah, that's my only complaint, but they mail me my sticker and my visitor passes every year now since I’m already on file.

Like previously stated, it's the same around Wrigley and the Cell. When I lived up north I had to get a separate sticker from the City and Zoning ones that was just for Cubs games. A safe bet is to never assume anything, if you're new to the hood call your Alderman and ask what the parking restrictions are. It may be a pain to figure it out, but no more than getting your car out of impound. Also, all the signs do say to call 311 or visits for event info.

Anonymous said...

If you are a resident in the Zone you are mailed a parking placard specifically for Soldier field events -- why do you think you get those if all you need is a daily parking permit sticker to avoid ticket/tow?

Anonymous said...

I agree that the sign is confusing and misleading. You might beat the ticket, but good luck getting your money back for the tow.

I parked in what I thought was a legal spot. Had to fight the tow first and then the ticket. How the F*** do you do that? Lost the case against the tow, but then won against the ticket on a technicality. I am glad to beat the ticket, but it didn't help my case against the tow.

Martin Ritter said...

From the 2nd Ward Democratic Organization:

In brief, neighborhood residents should display one of three things in order to not be ticketed and/or towed during Solider Field events wherein the Soldier Field event restriction is in place. A schedule of those events that trigger this restriction is posted on the Soldier Field web site. The use of the restriction is decided by police and Soldier Field management based on the anticipated popularity of a given event, such as Bears games, big concerts, the 2016 Olympics, etc.

Please display one of the following:

1. Your City Sticker with your Residential Parking Zone or a Guest Pass for Zones 365, 394, 599, 938, 1129, or 1145.
2. Your City Sticker and your Soldier Field Event Parking Sticker (these are numbered and shall not be duplicated).
3. Your City Sticker and a Soldier Field Event Parking Paper Guest Pass (these are also numbered).

Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) introduced and oversaw the successful passage of an amendment to the original ordinance governing Soldier Field event parking. The amendment requires the neighborhood's residential permit parking zones to be recognized in the Soldier Field Event parking restriction program. Therefore, by ordinance, Revenue, TMA, Police and any other ticket writers should not be writing tickets or towing resident cars with stickers for these zones. If you receive a ticket in error, then you can contest it and should win.

In the future, the now seemingly redundant Soldier Field Event Parking Sticker and paper guest pass may be eliminated. However, for 2011, it is still in use and should be displayed if you have it.

If you have additional questions about parking in the Soldier Field and Prairie District area, then please contact the alderman's office directly:

Office of Ald. Bob Fioretti
Chicago's 2nd Ward
429 S. Dearborn St.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 263-9273

Anonymous said...

There is a schedule on the paper permit also

MarkChicago said...

the whole point is if you didn't receive the extra sticker in the mail, you wouldn't know it exists and get towed.

The signs alone are misleading to anyone who has a resident permit, but doesn't live in the designated areas. Another Chicago revenue scam.

Anonymous said...

Blah Blah Blah. Guess what... for a lot of us that dont live in a resident parking zone. We are relegated to find somewhere to park, Unfortunately the only spots open are resident permit zones. Well I live on Michigan and don't qualify for any of these so called resident zones. So my punishment for living on Michigan is there is no resident parking. Well my one saving grace is that I receive in the mail an Event Pass Parking Sticker. So for 8 Sundays a year, that enables me to park where you all cannot... so blow it out your ass and stop complaining. At least you have a designated parking zone.

Anonymous said...

Blah Blah Blah. Guess what... for a lot of us that dont live in a resident parking zone. We are relegated to find somewhere to park, Unfortunately the only spots open are resident permit zones. Well I live on Michigan and don't qualify for any of these so called resident zones. So my punishment for living on Michigan is there is no resident parking. Well my one saving grace is that I receive in the mail an Event Pass Parking Sticker. So for 8 Sundays a year, that enables me to park where you all cannot... so stop complaining. At least you have a designated parking zone.

Anonymous said...

I live on Wabash and we do not have residential permits, but we do receive the Soldier Field event permits. Prior to every home Bears game we watch the parade of tow trucks - generally 10 or 12 at least - towing vehicles after the traffic cop on ATV attaches the ticket. I don't think you can blame the towers - they are getting their direction from the cops. Most of these folks did not park there for the game; some parked the day before and did not realize what was going to happen on Sunday.

Kirsten said...

I too am grateful for the bears sticker. We have a similar situation to many in that we live in an area with permit streets, but don't qualify for a permit. So it's nice to be able to find parking on days that there is a Solider Field event.

Anonymous said...

I was given not one, but two tickets because of the vagueness of the signs and permits. When moving into the neighborhood, I went to city hall to get my residential permit for zone 599, no one there ever said I needed an additional permit from the alderman's office for soldier field events.

I then tracked down a police officer on a 4 wheeler on the day of the game and he said that he couldn't do anything about it and that it is an issue of miscommunication between the city and the parking enforcement/police and that I should have never been given the tickets. He told me to appeal the tickets to a hearing officer at the courthouse.

So I go get my SF permit, and apparently you don't even need the separate permit anymore if you have a res permit in any one of the listed zones in the s. loop. So the entire thing is just a giant mess of miscommunication and probably a shiesty way for the city to nickel and dime its residents.

By the way I ended up not having to pay for the tickets after months of contesting.

Anonymous said...

When I first moved into the neighborhood, I got a ticket because I was parked on the street during a soccer game. Didn't realize at the time it was a Soldier Field event or that I needed a permit. I went and fought it in person and had it dropped. I'm just glad to know about the permit now as it would be a PITA to fight and deal with both a ticket and a tow. I don't think they should be towing vehicles. A ticket is enough.

I used to watch out the window before they started towing, and it was actually really sad because they came through and would ticket the 2 hours before the game when it was still residents parked, but then they would leave, and the Bears fans would show up and would never get ticketed because the police never came through again. Defeats the purpose. I think the same thing is happening now with the towing.