The bids for privatizing about 36,000 parking meters citywide were due yesterday. I talked with someone who feels that a private operator might be more flexible and open to working with neighborhoods, but personally I suspect that a private operator will be even more willing to jack rates and run with the money. There was a brief moment when neighborhoods realized the upside potential of underpriced street parking, but now the city’s caught on and wants to keep the money for itself (well, split with its private-sector partner).
Public assets, like streets and even street parking, should be managed for the public good, not solely for private financial gain.
18 March: Lorene Yue in Crain’s reports that ten bidders responded, ranging from locals like CPS Parking to the usual Cintra and Macquarie (on separate teams). Chicago CFO Paul Volpe called it a “strong response.”