Evanston to implement new lakefront parking program starting Aug. 2


Daily file photo by Maia Spoto

The Evanston lakefront at sunset. From Aug. 2 to Oct. 31, Evanston will charge non-residents $3 per hour for lakefront parking.

Waverly Long, Web Editor

Following community controversy related to the cost of lakefront parking, Evanston will pilot a new parking program charging non-residents for parking along the lake from August through the end of October.

Under the program, vehicles without a current year paid Evanston wheel tax will be charged $3 per hour for parking on specific streets along the lakefront.

City Council voted on the program in June, with Mayor Daniel Biss casting the tie-breaking vote to approve the proposal. Residents and alderpeople were divided on whether the proposal would be a productive way to compensate for lost income resulting from implementing free beach days, or if it would undermine the goal of making the lakefront more accessible.

In May, City Council unanimously voted to approve a resolution to give residents free access to Evanston beaches on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. The change in policy followed ongoing advocacy against the beach tokens, including a petition by Evanston Fight for Black Lives, which said free beach access is a critical part of working toward racial equity. 

However, the city estimated that implementing free beach days would create around $1 million in lost income. As a result, several alderpeople — including Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th), who suggested the idea in April — favored the idea of lakefront parking as a way to make up the lost revenue. 

Throughout the duration of the pilot program, the parking rate will be enforced between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. every day of the week. Drivers will be able to pay with coins or credit cards through pay stations, or by using the ParkEvanston app.

Residents with vehicles registered to an Evanston address with a paid wheel tax will be exempt from paying for lakefront parking.

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Twitter: @waverly_long

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