Wednesday, September 28, 2005


September 28, 2005

Re: Citation# 90578226XX

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to both contest this ticket and file a formal complaint with the City of Chicago and Department of Revenue.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 27, 2005, I parked my Chrysler Sebring (license plate IL-XXXXXXX) on the west side of 120 N. Morgan Street. I have been working in the area for over a year and am intimately familiar with its many special parking zones and restricted areas. This was not one of them.

Morgan Street between Randolph and Washington is zoned for legal parallel parking. There are vehicles parked there every day of the year, all day long. And there are vehicles parked there right now. It is not metered, nor is it zoned for neighborhood parking, rush hour parking, or a time limit. In short, aside from a driveway in the middle of the block, it is not restricted in any way. I have included photographic evidence for consideration.

I returned to my car at 6pm that evening to discover I had been cited for parking in a “No stand, park anytime” zone. I looked around for either permanent or temporary signage indicating that this was a “No stand, no park” zone and saw nothing. I had been unscrupulously ticketed by a renegade employee of the Department of Revenue! Not only that, but the car in front of me had also been given an erroneous ticket.

As I opened my car door, a uniformed Chicago police officer flagged me down. Officer Grabowski informed me he was on foot patrol in the area, noticed my ticket, and wanted to know why I had received a ticket. I told him I did not know and expressed my frustration with the phantom violation. He first inspected the ticket, then inspected the street and told me that I was LEGALLY parked and should NOT have received the ticket. He then suggested I take pictures (see attached) and formally contest the notice of violation.

I inquired as to the possible motives a Department of Revenue employee might have for issuing a fallacious citation, wondering if perhaps they sometimes manufacture violations to meet quotas. It was during this discussion that Officer Grabowski and I noticed a sign on a nearby streetlight. The sign had been turned all the way around to face the sidewalk and was not visible from the street. We immediately investigated.

The sign, which should have been facing the street, was intended to indicate there was no parking in front of a driveway about 20 feet south. But because it had been turned around, the arrow on the sign, as viewed from a pedestrian on the sidewalk, pointed in the direction of the cars that were legally parked – mine included. The ticketing officer had read the sign from the SIDEWALK, not from the street as it had been intended, and issued parking notices for cars that were actually parked legally. If the sign had been turned around, the arrow would have been pointing south toward the driveway instead of toward the cars parked legally north of the driveway. I would like to assume this is an honest mistake, rather than an employee of the city fleecing law-abiding citizens by writing false citations.

As we parted ways, Officer Grabowski said that he would try to find someone from Streets & Sanitation to come by and turn the sign around so that it faced the right direction. Hopefully, he said, this would prevent confused city employees from erroneously handing out violations.


Terry V. Mertens, Jr.

P.S. I have attached a series of photos that were taken with the help and direction of Officer Grabowski.

This is the sign on the building south that indicates no parking. No cars were parked in front of this sign, as the no parking zone was properly observed by all drivers.

This is the no parking sign that bookends the zone on the south. The sign that bookends the zone on the north is the one that was turned around. No cars were parked between the signs.

These are cars legally parked on the west side of the street, north of the no parking zone. My car is the second one in the photo with the door open. The sign on the pole is clearly facing the building. If turned around, the sign correctly indicates that the no parking zone is to the south.

This is the sign that was turned around. The picture is taken facing east, so the arrow is pointing north. Turned around correctly, the arrow would be pointing south.

This is a photo of the backwards sign taken from the middle of the street. Officer Garbauski suggested this one for good measure.


Roy said...

I hope you beat the ticket although I have never heard of city hall forgiving anyone or admitting wrong doing. Good luck!

AYNtK said...

Thanks, Roy. I actually beat a ticket last year by writing a formal letter. My car had been ticketed for an expired meter - but there was still time left in the meter! So I took a picture of the meter, wrote a letter, and sent it off. Never heard back. Since City Hall isn't into blowing postage on apologies, I figured no news was good news.

This time I've got an officer on my side...and he said this was a "slam dunk." We'll see...

Schmidty said...

Hey may not have "beat" the original may still be on your car's record. The city is notorius for just sitting in the weeds and sending your bill for the ticket plus fees when you least expect it. They typically don't do a WHOLE lot to collect for less than four tickets. I seem to remember that five was the point of "booting".

AYNtK said...

Thanks for the heads up. Since I am in the habit of paying bills late, I have an online account set up with the City of Chicago. When I click to pay a fine, it lists all of my many outstanding violations. The one from last year isn't listed there, so I am assuming it has been purged from the system. I'll definitely keep an eye out, case it resurfaces. I can't afford to have my car booted (again).

LC said...

this post is hilarious