Ten days ago my son was participating in a scavenger hunt organized by the varsity volleyball coaches at his high school. The game ended at Dairy Queen for what was supposed to be an end-of-season celebration. Instead, it degenerated into a debate about the constitution with an extraordinarily rude employee of "Chicago Parking Management", a private company that apparently runs a highly profitable business contracting with property owners to boot cars immediately upon arrival and extort cash payments of $130 for release.
Is it legal? Probably. I suspect the signage, circled in the photo below, is the minimum allowable by Wilmette law and intend to investigate.
Do a google search for "Chicago Parking Management" and the very first listing is for the Better Business Bureau rating of "F" on a scale of A to F. I will be adding my complaint.
Here's how they work: If you drive into the Lake Street Plaza, there is a smaller-than-typical sign on the right side warning that drivers who park and leave the plaza for any reason will be promptly booted. In other words, you can park and eat at Jimmy Johns but if you walk out of Jimmy Johns and go to the Dairy Queen for dessert, you have left the parking lot and it will cost you $130 CASH or $140 credit.
How do they know you've left? Employees watch the parking lot - not to keep the lot free for Plaza customers but rather to profit from unsuspecting Dairy Queen customers. Clearly, the goal is not to keep the parking lot free because it would be simpler and faster to ask someone to move their car. But at $140 per victim, that's significantly more profitable than a $10 lunch at Jimmy Johns.
Jimmy Johns is not the only business in the Lake Street Plaza. But Eco-Direct Cleaners next door has three clearly marked parking spaces that say they are for Eco-Direct customers only. Furthermore, I drove through the lot on a follow up visit and watched the guy in the Jimmy Johns apron keeping an eye on my car and the lot.
So help spread the word: stay away from Lake Street Plaza.