Robin Gonzalez said she has stopped adding up the amount of money she’s spent on parking tickets she’s received outside her Joliet apartment.
Gonzalez, 60, lives at a Joliet Housing Authority property at 400 N. Bluff St. She says the limited parking spaces at the property and parking restrictions on nearby streets have caused countless headaches for her and her neighbors.
Gonzalez uses a walker because of her knees and back. She also deals with vertigo and epilepsy, which means she can’t drive herself to her doctor’s appointments. So she relies on friends and family to drive her.
However, to obtain a permit to park in the lot outside her building, she said the housing authority requires her to have a license, which she doesn’t have because she can’t drive. So she has no choice but to park on the street.
She said that despite contacting housing authority officials multiple times, nothing has changed.
“It’s still the same old rigamarole all the time,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve been through this before. Nobody’s doing anything.”
John Chow, the Joliet Housing Authority’s chief of development and operations, said he has heard the concerns of residents such as Gonzalez, and, although his team still was working out the problems, they were planning a town hall meeting with the residents at that Bluff Street property.
Chow said the restrictions on obtaining a parking permit were there to ensure only residents of the building were parking in housing authority lots. He said the multiple housing units there held about 170 residents, but they don’t have enough space to accommodate all of them.
In addition to all that, Chow said the housing authority was inserting a new property manager at that location, so that contributed to a slower process.
“It won’t happen overnight,” he said. “I’m trying to get this expedited as quickly as I can.”
However, on the streets surrounding her building, Gonzalez said she’s still out of luck because of “No Parking” signs.
“There’s no other parking around here,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said that, to her knowledge, the Joliet Police Department was aware of the situation at the property, so in the past, residents only would get tickets “once in a blue moon” for parking on the street. However, lately she said it’s been different. She said police have given her about five parking tickets in this year alone.
Rosemary Peeples, 63, another resident, also is frustrated. Peeples said she’s received five tickets this year, although she has a handicapped placard that she places visibly in her car.
Gonzalez said she reached out to Joliet City Council member Jan Quillman about this problem and said she will address the council at its meeting Monday. Quillman said Thursday she only had barely begun to inquire to learn more about the situation with police and hadn’t heard back.
Chris Regis, Joliet inspector general, said the increase in tickets possibly could be attributed to a new automated system, which makes it easier for police officers to write tickets. He said that a city program allows for handicapped parking in front of houses on city streets with parking restrictions, although it’s granted on a case-by-case basis.
Even then, Gonzalez said she is worried about more legal trouble because of her inability to pay for the tickets and late fees she’s accumulated so far. She said she’s on a fixed income and hasn’t been able to work for years.
“I’m going to have to pay,” Gonzalez said. “I know I’m in jeopardy right now.”
The Joliet Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.