By LINDSAY WELBERS
Residents of the 5400 block of South Shore Drive and their neighbors may not be the first Hyde Parkers with permit parking after all.
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) heard from residents of the area at a meeting at the Shoreland, 5454 S. Shore Drive, Thursday night. Residents said they were concerned that permit parking, which would only allow vehicles belonging to residents on that block to park on the street from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. from May 1 through Oct. 1, would harm their neighbors.
Hairston held a meeting last month to address a petition signed by 65 percent of the neighbors — none from the Shoreland, as it was circulated before the Shoreland began accepting residents. Those residents argue permit parking would help to deter crime along the lakefront at night by only allowing neighbors to park in those spaces.
The demand for permit parking came in response to an incident in 2012 where a man was shot in the park over Memorial Day weekend.
Since the shooting, Chicago Police have increased security in the park around its closing and after hours, including upping patrols using bikes and automobiles.
Hairston suggested that alternate options to add light and activity to the park at night could increase security and that painting lines along the street would alleviate some of the parking congestion. She also suggested petitioning the Chicago Park Department to remove meters from the parking lot at the east end of 55th Street.
Carey Richmond, who lives in the Shoreland, said he is in favor of bringing permit parking to the 5400 block of South Shore Drive, because it could make it easier for him to park when he comes home late from work.
“We hear a lot about ‘leave the park for the kids’ but we’re talking about from 11 o’clock at night to 5 a.m. Kids are not at the park at 11 p.m.,” Richmond said. “When the summertime hits … you will see people just out. They’re not in groups; they’re not doing anything wrong. But for those that live in this area they don’t have anywhere to park.”
Richmond works in retail and can come home after midnight, depending on his schedule.
“People that don’t live here, they should be able to go to the lot and pay for parking,” Richmond said. “The reason [the park district lot] is never filled is because there is free parking on the street.”
Betty V. Holcomb, a resident of Parkshore, 1755 E. 55th St., would be excluded from parking along the 5400 block of South Shore Boulevard if permit parking were allowed.
“Permit parking is not the solution because it excludes neighbors,” Holcolmb said. “The solution is to develop a community between the residents of the [area].”
Holcomb suggested forming a block club as a way to combat violence.