Chicago is trying something new:

Parked cars bearing “For Sale” signs could be scooped up off Chicago’s streets and towed to city auto pounds, under a crackdown advanced in a City Council committee Monday.

Fed up with Indiana car dealers who dump vehicles for sale on Chicago streets, the Traffic Committee agreed Monday to fight back using one of the city’s most powerful and popular weapons: impoundment.

Owners would have to pay a $100-a-day fine, plus $650 in towing and storage fees under the proposal sponsored by Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th).

The ordinance would leave Chicagoans who want to sell their cars only three options: Take out an ad; sell to a used-car lot or park the car bearing a “For Sale” sign in their own driveway.

“It’s a quality-of-life issue. It’s like the broken [windows theory of crime-fighting] in New York,” Burke said.

“People out in the Archer Heights community are sick and tired of having three and four cars stacked up on streets with ‘For Sale’ signs on them. It just doesn’t reflect well on their community. . . . If we can confiscate a car for loud music being played, we can decree that residential streets or any street shouldn’t be utilized for commercial purposes.”

Bizarre. Having recently spent a few days in Chicago, I must say that they would seem to have more significant hurdles than 8.5 x 11 FOR SALE signs if their goal is to beautify the city. Chicago is an intellectual and cultural mecca in the Midwest, but it is possibly the ugliest major city in the country.

While I realize states are somewhat constrained in their ability to impose restrictions on interstate commerce, one would think there would be a way to target only cars with out-of-state tags, which appears to be the problem here.

(Hat tip: Laurence Simon)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dan Duffy says:

    Chicago is an ugly city? Are you nuts?

  2. James Joyner says:

    The ride in from O’Hare is positively depressing. The place is very rust belt in appearance: lots of run-down construction, very little in the way of trees, mountains, and other nice things to look at, and no really interesting architecture.

  3. CS says:

    “No really interesting architecture”?

    It’s the most architecturally significant architectural center in the country! Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van Der Rohe, H. Burnham, John W. Root, Dankmar Adler, Louis H. Sullivan. etc. Home of the Skyscraper? Home of the world’s tallest building (or close to)? First planned city?

    Ugly? Well, that’s of course subjective, but I would strongly register my disagreement on this point, with the comment that though there are ugly parts of the city, that does not mean an ugly city as a whole.

  4. James Joyner says:


    Skyscrapers: Ugly

    Architects: Long time ago. Buildings now delapidated.

    Plan: Outdated. Others have improved upon.

    Location, location, location.

  5. Anonymous says:


    “Skyscrapers: Ugly”

    If that’s where you’re coming from, then that’s a reasonble diff. of opinion, I’d say; not everyone likes them.

    “Architects: Long time ago. Buildings now delapidated.”

    Simply not true. The delapidated part, that is. And the great thing about the architects is that much of their work is still interesting.

    “Plan: Outdated. Others have improved upon.”

    Perhaps improved; still significant, functional, groundbreaking and important.

    “Location, location, location.”

    Huge, beautiful lakeshore. No mountains, to be sure. But not ugly. My, no.

  6. ogged says:

    James, you’re nuts, but that’s not my main point: most of the ride in from O’Hare isn’t in Chicago proper. What did you think of the downtown (assuming that’s where you were)?

  7. James Joyner says:


    Interesting point. The downtown area (State Street and whatnot)is nice in that there is a lot going on, plenty of shopping, decent public transportation, and all that. But I didn’t find it particularly attractive, even in the sense that Manhattan is attractive.