City council approves meter changes, more night games at Wrigley

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Chicago city council was busy Wednesday and approved several measure of high interest including changes to the parking meters deal and adding more Cubs games at Wrigley at night.

First, after a lengthy debate, the council voted 39-11 and approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial plan to change the terms of the city’s parking meter lease despite questions about the deal’s financial impact and fear of giving Chicago Parking Meters LLC another windfall.

That deal gave Chicago Parking Meters LLC the right to collect all revenue from the meters for 75 years in exchange for an upfront cash payment to the city of $1.15 million — all but $125 million of which was spent by the time Emanuel took office in mid-2011.

It also led to soaring meter rates and city payments of tens of millions of dollars for more unpaid parking by people with disabled placards and loss of revenue due to the city taking meters out of service than allowed under the contract.

Under Emanuel’s changes, the city reduced its payment for meters out of service during the past two years to $8.9 million from about $50 million. The meter company also agreed to change the way it calculates meters out of service, which the mayor’s top lieutenants say will reduce penalty payments by $1 billion during the remaining 71 years of the lease.

The more controversial part of the mayor’s changes involved the trade-off of free Sunday parking outside the central business district for longer hours at all metered spaces that require payment until 9 p.m. In most areas, those hours will be extended to 10 p.m. In River North, Streeterville and parts of the Gold Coast, hours will be extended until 12 p.m.
Also Wednesday, the council voted to increase the number of night games at Wrigley Field.

The number of games will go from 30 to 46 and the Friendly Confines can host four concerts a year.

-Chicago Tribune contributed to this report



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