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Parking With Your Car Sticking Out Into the Road Is Foolish, but Is It Legal?

When the parked cars don’t block the sidewalk, they’re in danger of being struck by other drivers. And then there’s the fire hydrant issue. Image: Google Street View

Streetsblog reader Deni Mayer contacted us yesterday about an unusual car parking conundrum is his neighborhood. Last summer he and his wife moved into a condo on the 100 block of West Delaware in the Gold Coast, between Clark and LaSalle and just west of Washington Square Park. It’s a narrow one-way westbound street, and the east half of the block has townhouses on the north side of the street. Each of these homes has two parking garages and driveways that cross the sidewalk.

According to Mayer, the driveway aprons often get used as parking spots, but they’re too short to accommodate the entire length of a standard car, so there’s been a problem with parked cars obstructing the pedestrian right-of-way and/or sticking out into the street. “Sick of having to walk around bumpers on the sidewalk all the time I decided to do something about it,” he said.

First Mayer put notes on the worst offenders’ cars explaining that it was unlawful and inconsiderate to park this way, he said. He added that the worst location was a building where contractors were doing a guy rehab and parked their cars all say, while the apparent owner parked in the driveway every night. (Presumably the owner had a second vehicle in the garage or, as so many Chicagoan do, was simply using the garage to store other items.)

“Though the blocking of the sidewalk got a little better after that they did not stop so I started reporting it to the city and requesting ticketing,” Mayer said. “Amazingly this actually worked. Cops came and ticketed cars at least some of the time I called. It seemed to really make a difference for the last couple of weeks and the contractors parked on the street using guest neighborhood stickers. Most of the other driveways seemed to stay clear most of the time too."


However, Mayer said this week drivers started parking their vehicles on the short driveways again, and now they’re displaying placards in their windshields that claim it’s legal to do so as long as they don’t block the pedestrian right of way. The signs cite two sections of Chicago’s Municipal Code for their justification, stating that it’s legal to park a vehicle on a privately owned driveway apron as long as:

9-64-020 sec b – it leaves available “no less than ten feet of the width of the roadway for free movement of vehicular traffic on a one-way street” and

9-64-110 sec d – is not “blocking the sidewalk.”

The placards claim that the 18th Police District’s Business liaison office and local alderman Brian Hopkins’ office have confirmed that this parking practice is in compliance with the code.

However Mayer notes that Section 9-64-020 sec a of the code says it’s illegal to park in any other way than parallel to the curb and facing the direction of traffic, except for motorcycles or scooter and in designated diagonal parking areas. “That seems to be pretty clear that parking hanging out of a driveway is not legal in any way,” he said. Also, he notes that the driveway closest to Clark is about five feet from a fire hydrant, “so that can't possible be legal.”

“I know most people think it isn't a big deal if I've gotten them to stop blocking the sidewalk (but that will creep back),” Mayer wrote. “But there are other issues. There’s the fire hydrant situation, as well as the fact that these cars block sight lines for cars turning onto Delaware from Clark. Everyone else who wants to use street space on this block [with permitted parking] has to pay for a permit or a guest passes, but the townhouse owners think they get two extra free spaces to go along with their two garage spaces. And frankly, it also looks like s---.”

According to Hopkins’ assistant Christian Ficara, one of townhouse owners with the last name Levitian contacted the ward office on February 13 about a ticket he got for parking on the sidewalk. “He provided us a photo of the vehicle, which showed it was parked on the driveway apron with the sidewalk clear, and inquired as to the legality of the parking situation,” Ficara said. “We referred Mr. Levitian to the Police Department who could provide an accurate interpretation of the relevant ordinance, and what is considered to be a violation.”

According to Officer Joe Incaprera of the 18th District is currently trying to get clarification on whether it’s legal to park on the driveway aprons with part of the vehicle sticking into the street. “If any portion of the vehicle is on the sidewalk, that’s an automated citation,” Incaprera said. The police district has reached out to one of the city’s administrative judges for clarification on the issue and is currently waiting for a reply, he added.

Ficara told me that, contrary to what the placards say, Hopkins has not yet confirmed that this parking practice is incompliance with the city code. “After learning of the placard indicating our office’s approval that Mr. Levitian placed in his vehicle, our office respectfully requested it be removed.”

So stay tuned to find out whether or not Gold Coast motorists will be allowed to continue parking with part of their vehicle sticking into the roadway. At any rate this practice seems like a great way to get your car struck by another passing driver.

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