Residents of Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods are hit with a disproportionate amount of weather–related tickets compared to wealthier neighborhoods across the city, according to a recent analysis of city data.
Data reviewed by news radio WBEZ found that Chicago Police issued far more tickets for winter weather offenses in largely Black areas like Englewood when drivers and property owners failed to adhere to the city’s winter weather rules. Englewood drivers received 53 “snow tickets,” while folks in neighboring Lincoln Park got just 23.
In an area known as the Loop, only five tickets were issued, according to the radio station.
When it snows, residents can be ticketed for a handful offenses, including leaving their cars parked on the street or failing to shovel the sidewalk in front of their home or business. But there’s also the “2 inch rule,” which prohibits street parking when there is 2 or more inches of snow on the ground. This rule applies year-round unlike the other two.
A Chicago Police Dept. directive notes, however, that officers aren’t allowed to issue “2 inch rule” tickets unless city officials determine the weather is severe enough for “phase two” of Chicago’s official snow plan.
“Violation Notices will not be issued for violation of the 2-inch snow parking ban unless the Department is officially notified that the 2-inch snow parking ban is in effect,” the directive states.
With that said, it seems that CPD officers have been going against protocol and issuing “2 inch tickets” anyway without the proper designation. The city’s 311 data showed that North Side neighborhoods filed the most complaints for snow offenses, yet saw the least amount of tickets. It was the opposite over in Englewood however, which received the most tickets.
The radio station also noted that South Side neighborhoods are less densely populated than those on the North Side, so it doesn’t make sense that it received a higher share of tickets.
Officials with Chicago PD have declined to comment on the matter.
Marjani Williams, a spokesperson for the Department of Streets and Sanitation, gave a statement to WBEZ explaining the department’s procedure for enforcing the “2-inch rule” and how the coordinate with police.
“The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) activates the 2-inch parking ban during emergency snow events,” Williams said. “In the event of an emergency snow event, DSS will give notice to residents when the ban is activated and coordinate with the Chicago Police Department to enforce it as needed.”
Michael Williams, a lifelong resident of the Englewood community, had to shovel snow from his front yard after a recent snow storm. Though he has never received a weather-related ticket, Williams said the skewed numbers don’t sit well with him.
“That doesn’t seem right to me,” he told the radio station. “There’s just as much shoveling over here as there is over there. I don’t understand why they got fewer tickets than us.”