City Council extends parking meter hours

Priya Khatkhate

Jeff Shuter’s alarm clock will be buzzing an hour earlier this fall.

On Monday, Evanston City Council bumped up the hours for parking meters in the downtown area to 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The four-hour extension will go into effect in three of four months. Current meter hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“(Parking officials) try and catch you,” said Shuter, a Speech junior who received about a dozen tickets for meter violations during a seven-week period.

“By being busy and not being able to go over to pay a meter I’ve gotten all these tickets and been towed,” Shuter said. “Parking in Evanston is absurd.”

The law is intended to stimulate local business, said Jonathan Perman, a Parking Committee member and executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce.

Perman said a number of businesses open in the evenings need better customer turnover. With existing meter hours, drivers can park their cars in metered spots after 6 p.m. and leave them there until morning.

“This is going to be a positive thing for Evanston,” Perman said. ‘There will be more spaces available, especially in the evenings.”

But not all businesses see the change as a helpful one. Some small-business owners fear the added hassle of feeding meters later in the evening will keep customers away.

Roger Carlson, owner of Bookman’s Alley, 1712 Sherman Ave., said the extension of meter hours could hurt sales at his stores.

“People can’t find a damn place to park, and if they do they will gripe because they’ll have to put money in the meter after 6 p.m. now,” Carlson said. “I think the city’s doing it to raise more money.”

Jim Poniatowski, general manager of Dixie Kitchen, 825 Church St., said Monday’s decision ultimately will detract from downtown Evanston’s appeal.

“The increase in meter hours could have a negative effect on business,” Poniatowski said.

“More than that, the way they monitor people and hand out tickets so regularly is discouraging,” he said. “People won’t come down here if they always have to worry about getting ticketed.”

Poniatowski asks his employees not to park on the streets, but he said there is a general lack of parking in the downtown area, which makes it hard for employees and customers to avoid tickets.

Jennifer Teruel, manager of Presence, 1631 Sherman Ave., said that while many people come to downtown Evanston in the evening, most don’t shop in just one store or just have dinner at a restaurant.

“People want to go through the whole area and shop and eat and all of that,” Teruel said. “They don’t want to have to go back and feed their meters after two hours.”