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Parking war remains unsettled around Waukegan High School

MariFlores Waukegan paid Chicago Parking Management $125 remove boot from her minivan. | Judy Masterson/Sun-Times Media

Maria Flores of Waukegan paid Chicago Parking Management $125 to remove a boot from her minivan. | Judy Masterson/Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 12, 2014 6:11AM

There’s a lull in the parking war around Waukegan High School’s Washington Campus.

In the weeks leading up to the holidays, Robert Lempa, who owns the Clothesline Laundry at 1000 W. Washington St. and a defunct business next to it, hired a Chicago parking enforcement firm to boot drivers who pulled into his parking lots. The metal wheel-locking device isn’t removed until a $125 fine is paid.

Lempa, who lives in Lake Villa, has received support from 4th Ward Ald. Harold Beadling, who said parents were clogging Lempa’s parking lots and refusing to move. Lempa was not immediately available for comment Friday, Jan. 10.

But Waukegan High School parents have disputed Lempa and Beadling’s assertion.

On Dec. 13, Maria Flores of Waukegan said she barely came to a stop in an empty lot at 1012 Washington St., just north of the school, when she was blocked by an SUV as a man in a para-military uniform jumped out and booted the rear wheel of her mini van.

District 60 officials said liability concerns prevent the district from intervening, but Waukegan Mayor Motley said he plans to schedule a meeting with the school board to resolve the issue.

Waukegan Police Cmdr. Keith Zupec said Friday he did not know if cars pulled up outside businesses along Washington Street were still being booted. District 60 spokesman Nick Alajakis said no one at the high school has reported a booting so far in 2014.

Motley added that city attorney Steve Martin reviewed parking enforcement regulations and determined Lempa, who posted small no-parking warnings in English on the two buildings, acted within his rights.

“It’s private property, but it’s a fine line,” said Motley, a former police officer. “It’s legal to boot a car once it’s actually parked, but the law stipulates an unattended motor vehicle. These drivers were still in the car.”

Motley, who said he’s heard from residents who believe the city is to blame, said he visited Lempa and told him “to stop it.”

“I understand they’re trying to keep their business functioning,” Motley said. “But they’re doing a bad disservice to the community by doing something like that.”

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