Appeals panel: Chicago must give a day's warning before ticketing cars on streets scheduled for sweeping

By Scott Holland | Mar 12, 2019

Eric Fischer [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

A state appeals panel said the city of Chicago needs to provide 24 hours of warning time before it begins writing tickets for cars parked in the way of street sweepers.

Todd Kooperman got a ticket for having a car parked in the 2500 block of North Spaulding Avenue in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood, when it was scheduled for street sweeping. The city’s Administrative Hearing Department said the ticket was deserved because a sign was posted to give notice of the cleaning. 

Kooperman filed suit, seeking administrative review of that finding, while adding a count challenging the parking ordinance as unconstitutional.

After Cook County Judge Sophia Hall upheld the Department’s finding, Kooperman appealed to the First District Appellate Court. Justice Carl Anthony Walker wrote the panel’s opinion issued March 11; Justices Mary Mikva and John Griffin concurred.

According to the appellate decision, Kooperman said there was no sign when he parked the car, nor was there a sign when he checked around 6 p.m. on July 25, 2016. The $60 ticket was written at 10 a.m. July 26; Kooperman paid under protest.

“So long as the sign is posted on the day of the violation, the City has met its requirements,” Hall wrote.

Walker explained Hall’s decision was rooted in the fact the relevant ordinance doesn’t specify how long before the cleaning the city must post notice.

“That is,” Walker wrote, “under the Department’s interpretation, a driver could park legally in an available space, and if the city posted a sign for street cleaning 10 minutes later, the city could immediately issue a ticket fining the driver $60 for violating the ordinance, when the driver had no reasonable means of discovering that leaving his car parked for 10 minutes would violate the ordinance.”

The panel stressed Kooperman parked his car legally, and that it only passively became illegal based on an ordinance written to give the city broad power to ticket cars.

“To avoid doubts about the constitutionality of the ordinance, we must interpret the ordinance to require reasonable notice to drivers who parked their cars legally prior to the posting of signs that restrict parking,” Walker wrote. “The signs must remain plainly visible along the street for a length of time ‘reasonably calculated to inform’ drivers that they will violate the ordinance if they leave their cars parked after a specified hour on a specified day. We hold that putting up signs less than 16 hours before ticketing does not provide reasonable notice.”

Rather, the panel said the ordinance should require at least 24 hours of notice by posting signs. The justices said the ordinance is constructed with the presumption of reasonable notice to vehicle owners, going so far as to allow people to raise as a defense that warning signs were missing or obscured. It also doesn’t allow the city to charge towing or storage fees without proving a warning sign was erected at least 24 hours before a ticket was issued.

“To ensure fundamental due process, we construe the ordinance as requiring this same notice before cars are ticketed,” Walker wrote. “The city admits that it schedules the cleaning of each street months in advance. Thus, the city would not incur any undue burden from posting the signs 24 hours prior to ticketing.”

The panel reversed the decision and remanded it back to the Hearing Department. But since the ordinance was held to be constitutional so long as proper notice is given, it dismissed that part of Kooperman’s complaint.

According to Cook County court records, Kooperman has been represented by attorney Mark Weinberg, of Chicago.

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Circuit Court of Cook County City of Chicago Illinois First District Appellate Court

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