City Council Preview: Airbnb, Rideshare, Sick Leave And More
by A.D. Quig – firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s City Council meeting will be one of the busiest agendas of the year. Multiple major regulations that have been working through months of negotiation and committee meetings will be reported out and are expected to be called for a voice vote. Below is a brief review of the big items expected to be on tomorrow’s agenda.
- Airbnb Regulations – Regulations that cleared yesterday’s joint Zoning and Housing committee meeting include a provision that allows precincts to petition to opt out of allowing rental units in their area. Two of the ordinance’s most vocal opponents, Ald. Michele Smith (43) and Ald. John Arena (45) could not vote yesterday, but could throw a wrench into tomorrow’s vote by moving together to defer and publish.
- Ride-share Changes – Mayor Rahm Emanuel was nearly taken to the brink when Transportation Committee Chair Anthony Beale (9) passed strict new regulations on Uber and Lyft without objection last Friday. A pared down ordinance is expected to be substituted today, but doesn’t fully appease some Progressive Caucus aldermen or accessibility advocates.
- Paid Sick Leave – The ordinance’s biggest opponents, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association re-shared a dissenting report last night arguing the mandates for up to five days of paid sick leave and up to 20 hours of rollover family and medical leave will be too hard for small businesses to administer. But advocates, including a coalition of labor groups, argue the benefit to 450,000 mostly low-wage Chicago workers far outweighs the estimated 0.7% to 1/3% increase in labor cost for businesses.
- Mandatory Arbitration Clause – Ald. Ed Burke’s (14) tough on business ordinance saying the city won’t re-up with companies that include mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts caught many off guard last week. At the behest of the Mayor’s administration, who expressed “serious concerns” with the ordinance after it passed, Burke reportedly agreed to hold the ordinance. If passed by the full Council, millions in city contracts would be affected. Instead, he told Aldertrack yesterday he’s considering adding that mandatory arbitration language to individual ordinances, like those regulating Lyft, Uber, and Airbnb.
- $3.4M Police Settlements – Running up the city’s police settlement tab, already approaching $15 million this year, are three settlements the Finance Committee passed yesterday. The largest, $2 million, will be awarded to a mother and her three-year-old struck by a squad car while crossing the street. The other two smaller settlements will go to shooting victims.
- Erin Keane Comptroller Appointment – If approved by the full City Council, Keane will join Budget Director Alex Holt and Chief Financial Officer Carole Brown as the City Comptroller in time for city departments to submit their first round of budget documents in early July.
- Eva-Dina Delgado Police Board Appointment – Delgado, a veteran of the Daley administration and a registered lobbyist, would join the Police Board as its president Lori Lightfoot, has been pressing the Mayor and City Council to be more transparent on reforms to the Chicago Police Department, and is considering pressing the Police Board's authority to introduce its own reforms.
- TIF Allocations – More than $22 million in TIF money passed the Finance Committee yesterday. One to benefit the relocation of a Whole Foods distribution center in the 9th Ward’s booming Pullman area sailed through, while the other, to benefit a 300-unit luxury building at the site of a long-vacant hospital in Uptown (also seeing a redevelopment rise), passed in a divided vote with some contentious public testimony. More details in the Finance Committee report below.
- Tax Breaks for Landmark Developments – 12-year Class L property tax incentives for two landmark properties–a bank turned office space downtown and a two story red brick building in Fulton Market–faced little scrutiny during its committee hearing. The break for the former bank, designed by Daniel Burnham, is expected to save $12 million dollars over the course of the lowered assessment.
- $5M More For Malcolm X Building Demolition – Aldermen approved $5 million in additional funding from the city to help with remediation for the old Malcolm X College building. Students have moved to a brand new campus, and Rush University and the Chicago Blackhawks plan to split the site for an academic village and training rink that will be open for the community. The Blackhawks already broke ground on the training center in the 27th Ward last week.
- Towing Bill of Rights – A 10 point consumer-friendly bill of rights proposed by Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) and Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30) has been in the works for some time, and followed an unusual subject matter hearing on towing practices. At that meeting, Ald. Ed Burke (14) recited the lyrics to Steve Goodman’s “Lincoln Park Pirates”. Ald. Pawar sparred with Lincoln Towing’s lawyer, who argued the company doesn’t deserve its terrible reputation, and has been under new management for over a decade.
- Wrigley Field Plaza – Despite objections from Chicago Cubs representatives that local Ald. Tom Tunney (44) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s regulations on Wrigley Field’s new outdoor plaza are too strict, this substitute looks slated to pass. More details in the License Committee summary below.
- Property Tax Break For Motor Row Hilton Hotel – An “eyesore” in the 3rd Ward received a blighted designation and a new 7(b) property tax break to help along the construction of a 466-room Hilton hotel near Motor Row. The project will support 800 construction and 377 full time jobs, the Department of Planning and Development says, and according to local Ald. Pat Dowell (3), will be a catalyst for change in the area.
- Transgendered Public Restrooms Ordinance – Only a handful of aldermen, including Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41) and Ald. Nick Sposato (38) expressed reservations about how abuse of this amendment to the city’s Human Rights Ordinance would be enforced, and whether “knuckleheads” might try to exploit the rule. It would make it possible for transgender individuals to use public restrooms associated with the gender they identify with without the threat of having to show a government issued ID. Most praised the change as a rebuke to North Carolina’s controversial law.
- Three Ballot Referenda – The Rules Committee will report out three new city-wide ballot referenda, one of which, on immigrant IDs, is unwanted by pro-immigrant groups. If the immigrant ID referendum is removed, a fourth referendum might sneak in instead, backed by Progressive Caucus members and SEIU, which would create a new airport authority. The new independent government agency would control all of the airports’ bonding, contracts and management, much like the New York City area’s Port Authority.
- Solis Rezone of Pilsen Property to Industrial – Zoning Chair Danny Solis (25) flexed his chairmanship, local control, and zoning know-how to outmaneuver a developer who didn’t provide the number of on-site affordable units the community demanded. The downzone to a manufacturing district will subject any other developer who wants to build on the vacant site to a community review process and possibly, approval from the Plan Commission.
- “Blue Lives Matter” Ordinance – Ald. Ed Burke (14) and other former police officers are expected to introduce an ordinance that would charge a person who assaults an active or retired officer or other law enforcement personnel because of their uniform with a hate crime. Any person found inciting a riot a “hate crime” against a current or retired first responder would be subject to a fine and prison sentence.
- Mayor’s Property Tax Rebate Plan – After briefing and consulting with aldermen last week on a slate of four different possible property tax rebate plans, Mayor Emanuel is expected to introduce a rebate plan similar to the one former Mayor Richard M. Daley operated in 2010.
- Public Hearings On Police Reform – Continuing the city’s stutter steps towards police reform, Public Safety Committee Chair Ariel Reboyras (30) and Budget Chair Carrie Austin (34) are expected to announce a set of joint committee hearings on July 6 and 7 to address aldermanic ordinances calling for changes to the Independent Police Review Board and creating a police inspector general, as well as to address reforms proposed by Mayor Emanuel in aldermanic briefings. The hearings were announced in a press release late last month following a press conference by Police Board President Lori Lightfoot where she called for a more transparent, public process for reform. Lightfoot subsequently threatened to use Police Board powers for the first time to make city policing policy.
Airbnb Regulations Advance To Full City Council Meeting
by Claudia Morell - Claudia@aldertrack.com
A joint meeting of Housing and Zoning Committees approved a rework of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to regulate Airbnb rentals in Chicago after provisions were added to provide more community control over where those units could be located in neighborhoods made up predominately of single-family homes.
Attendance: Chairman Danny Solis (25), Chairman Joe Moore (49), Pat Dowell (3), Sophia King (4), Leslie Hairston (5), Greg Mitchell (7), Michelle Harris (8), Anthony Beale (9), Sue Sadlowski Garza (10), Patrick Daley Thompson (11), George Cardenas (12), Marty Quinn (13), Raymond Lopez (15), Toni Foulkes (16), David Moore (17), Matt O’Shea (19), Mike Zalewski (23), Roberto Maldonado (26), Walter Burnett (27), Jason Ervin (28), Ariel Reboyras (30), Scott Waguespack (32), Carrie Austin (34), Emma Mitts (37), Marge Laurino (39), Brendan Reilly (42), Michele Smith (43), Tom Tunney (44), John Arena (45), James Cappleman (46), Harry Osterman (48)
The item considered yesterday was a direct introduction to the joint committee on Housing and Zoning Committees. The previous plan that advanced out of a joint License and Housing Committees meeting last month, but was held in committee, will not advance for a full vote. Confusingly, yesterday’s item had the same ordinance number. An aide for Ald. Joe Moore (49) says it will be assigned a new ordinance number.
The item up for a full City Council vote today makes it possible for residents living in R1, R2 and R3 zoned districts to organize and block Airbnb rentals from locating in their neighborhood through a process similar to the one the city uses to create moratoriums on liquor licenses. Those districts are zoned specifically for single-family homes.
But R4, the zone for multiflat units, was left out of the compromise ordinance, an issue that didn’t sit well with Ald. Michele Smith (43), who due to the committee switch couldn’t vote on the plan yesterday. Smith testified that those buildings make up a majority Lincoln Park, and even presented a large map of her ward at the meeting, expressing worry that corporate investors would buy up those properties and put all the units on the Airbnb platform.
Under the community approval process, residents within a specific precinct would be able to the petition their aldermen to institute a moratorium on Airbnb rentals. Depending on the number of signatures gathered and the amount of public opposition, the local alderman, in turn, could introduce an ordinance blocking new rentals from going on the platform. But the number of signatures needed is lower than those for liquor moratoriums, which requires a majority of registered voters in a precinct.
But as is the case with the liquor moratoriums, existing rentals that are properly licensed for vacation rentals would be grandfathered in.
As was the case with the last hearing on Airbnb, several aldermen raised doubts the city has the resources to effectively track rental units and crack down on bad actors. According to Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek, a list of buildings that prohibit Airbnb rentals will be place on the city website for public view.
If a renter sees that their apartment or home is on that ineligibility list, they’ll have up to ten days to contest it. The city would then have up to 60 days after the hearing date to make a final determination on whether that person can rent out their home. On average, the process should take about a month, said Commissioner Lapacek.
“It seems like we are loosening regulations in higher density areas and we are over-regulating, like Mabel, who is renting out a room because she has to feed her kids,” Ald. Sue Sadlowski Garza (10) said of the new changes. It was a claim that directly contradicts the recent flood of Airbnb commercials that argue the city is siding with the Gold Coast and the “one percent” in the ordinance.
As for the 4% surcharge that would be added on all Airbnb rentals to fund homeless initiatives, Airbnb would be responsible for collecting those fees and remitting them to the city. A small percentage of those fees collected would cover the city’s cost of regulating Airbnb rentals.
The issue of how future assessments could be impacted by Airbnb rentals was also a point of contention. Ald. Smith asked if three-, four-, and five-flat homes owned by LLCs solely for the purpose of renting out the units on Airbnb would be taxed at the same rate as bed and breakfasts. Under the Cook County property tax code, bed and breakfast establishments are taxed as commercial buildings, which is twice the rate as residential. No one from the city or Airbnb had an answer to that question.
And in an interesting twist, Airbnb retained Mike Kasper, a well known lobbyist closely connected to Speaker Mike Madigan and who argued Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s residency, as their counsel. He appeared before the committee yesterday to say Airbnb believes the ordinance is “okay” but could be improved.
Airbnb is opposed to the limit of rentals in high-rise buildings, argued Kasper, because it creates a system of “winners and losers.” For example, he said, a 100-unit high-rise building where only 6 units would be allowed to go on the Airbnb platform is unfair, because those six units would be more valuable than the remaining 94. He also anticipated a mad rush for licenses, given the limits on units. He said Airbnb would have prefered if the limit was imposed on the number of units at any given time, and not the number of units that can operate on the platform.
But Airbnb doesn’t plan to sue the city over the regulations, said Chris Nulty, Public Relations Director for the company. He told Ald. Brendan Reilly (42), who has repeatedly argued Airbnb purposely doesn't follow laws it doesn’t like, that the city wouldn’t get slapped with a lawsuit after the regulations become law.
Finance Committee: Montrose Clarendon TIF Allocation Gets Personal
by Claudia Morell - Claudia@aldertrack.com
Despite heated public testimony and numerous insults thrown at Ald. James Cappleman (46) for his support of reimbursing JDL Development with $11.2 million in TIF funds for their proposed luxury high-rise for the former Maryville Academy site, the item advanced out of Finance Committee yesterday. Two aldermen voted against it.
Attendance: Chairman Ed Burke (14), Pat Dowell (3), Sophia King (4), Leslie Hairston (5), Greg Mitchell (7), Michelle Harris (8), Anthony Beale (9), Patrick Daley Thompson (11), George Cardenas (12), Marty Quinn (13), Raymond Lopez (15), Toni Foulkes (16), David Moore (17), Matt O’Shea (19), Mike Zalewski (23), Roberto Maldonado (26), Walter Burnett (27), Jason Ervin (28), Ariel Reboyras (30), Scott Waguespack (32), Carrie Austin (34), Emma Mitts (37), John Arena (45), James Cappleman (46), Harry Osterman (48)
Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1) and Ald. Harry Osterman (48), the sole opponents, requested a roll call vote on the agreement. Both argued it was inappropriate for the city to use tax increment financing dollars to support luxury units. Both cited hot button personal issues: for Osterman, the use of TIF funding to help Chicago Public Schools, and for Moreno, luxury developers paying into the city’s affordable housing fund rather than building affordable units on site.
According to Aarti Kotak, the Managing Deputy Commissioner for Economic Development with the Department of Planning and Development, JDL will construct a 381-unit residential high-rise with 36,000-square-feet of commercial retail space at the vacant Maryville Academy site on the corner of Montrose and Clarendon. The building has been vacant for more than a decade and the Montrose Clarendon TIF was created specifically to encourage development of the site. The property within the entire TIF is currently tax exempt, but is expected to generate $2 to $3 million in annual property tax revenue once the high-rise is built.
All the money collected through the new TIF, about $15.7 million, will be given back to the developer. $4.6 million will be immediately put in an escrow account to pay for improvements at the neighboring Clarendon Park within 6 to 8 months of the building’s completion. Construction of the new building is scheduled to start this August.
“These are luxury units on the lakefront, am I correct?” Ald. Osterman asked Kotak after her testimony. “I don’t think there is another piece of lakefront land that will be developed in the next 15 or 20 years. So this site is going to be marketed as the last piece of lakefront land developed. So it’s going to be luxury units smack dab there.”
Twenty of the units, about 5% of the total, will be made affordable. The remaining will be sold at market rate. Since the project was first introduced under the 2007 Affordable Housing Ordinance, now sunsetted with more stringent requirements, the developer is paying about $5.7 million in in-lieu fees to the affordable housing trust fund.
“If the developer wants to develop luxury units on the lakefront, albeit it’s a tough corner, we should not be extending TIF funds. Bottom Line,” Ald. Osterman explained, prompting cheers from the gallery. Dozens of Uptown residents, most of them with the community group One Northside, attended the meeting to oppose the project. “I’m not doing this for the applause. I don’t see this is in the public interest.”
“I find it incredibly troubling, given the financial situations that we’re in with CPS and all of our places, that we are going to use TIF funds for luxury units,” Osterman added. Numerous opponents echoed his argument during public testimony.
Osterman was also skeptical that the Park District would properly use the funds for the improvements at Clarendon Park. “They promise a lot but they don’t deliver,” he claimed.
“I agree 100% with what he said,” Ald. Moreno added. “It just doesn’t pass the smell test.”
Members of the public were less kind about the project, raising the issue of the the homeless population living under the viaducts near Montrose Beach and claiming the City Council was condoning segregationist policies. A few witnesses insulted DPD Commissioner David Reifman, suggesting he made his money as a zoning attorney by rigging the system and taking advantage of tax breaks. One characterized Ald. Cappleman as “corrupt and greedy.”
“You should be stripped of your social work license,” said Patricia Snowden told Cappleman. A self-proclaimed lifelong resident of Uptown, she called the agreement “utterly reprehensible.”
This went on for more nearly two hours, as Chairman Burke waived the three minute limit to testimony until the meeting started to eat into the scheduled time for the Airbnb hearing. Even Ald. Nick Sposato (38) made a point to tell the witnesses in the gallery to “stop with the personal attacks.”
Ald. Cappleman, who spoke last, gave a similar speech to the one he gave at an earlier Plan Commission meeting, when the zoning for the the project was approved. “The perception that this TIF money could be used for other things doesn’t exist,” he said, adding that if the development agreement failed to pass nothing would be built at the site and no money would go toward the park improvements. The item passed 18-2.
The Montrose/Clarendon agreements, items 14 and 15 on the Finance Committee agenda, were the only ones to receive testimony, questions, and public comments. The remaining redevelopment agreements and Class L tax breaks advanced out of committee unanimously by voice vote.
Chairman Burke abstained from voting on the Class L tax break for a two-story, 21,375 square foot red brick building in the landmark Fulton Market area owned by Sterling Bay, citing Rule 14.k
Highlights of Approved Items
TIF For Pullman Whole Foods: The committee approved a redevelopment agreement with Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives Inc. that would support the construction of a new Whole Foods distribution center in Pullman. The company plans to move from its Indiana location once complete. Local Ald. Anthony Beale (9) called the project a “huge testament” to Pullman improvements following the area’s growth after it won designation as a federal national historic monument. The distribution center is expected to create 150 new jobs. Whole Foods has signed a community benefits agreement committing to local and minority hiring, Ald. Beale said. Interestingly, the amount of the TIF to be dispersed, $7.4 million, was not mentioned prior to the voice vote.
$3.4 Million in Police Settlements: Going out of the regular order of business, Chairman Burke called up three police settlements near the start of the meeting (right after the Pullman TIF was approved). Steve Patton with the City’s Law Department testified on the largest settlement, a $2 million payout to Saremm Saenz and her young son, Moises Motato, who were struck by a squad car while crossing the street. Ald. David Moore (17) asked for a quick synopsis of the settlement. According to Patton, Saenz was crossing the street with her son at 9:30 p.m. when an officer, who was making a left turn, hit both of them.
The officer claims he didn’t see the two crossing the street. Camera footage obtained from a nearby business shows the two plaintiffs had the right of way. “The driver wasn’t speeding or distracted, he just didn’t see them,” Patton explained. The son had a pre-existing medical condition where his organs are located outside his body, Patton said, and the accident exasperated the condition. Both survived, but the son racked up $500,000 in medical expenses. The family originally asked for $7.7 million. The other two settlements are for police related shooting incidents, and no questions were asked regarding those matters.
Comptroller Appointment: Erin Keane, the city’s acting Comptroller, faced a relatively warm reception from the Finance Committee, although she was immediately pressed for specifics on how she plans to address the backlog of unpaid fines and parking tickets owed to the city, health insurance plans for city workers, and the payment system for delegate agencies. As a city of Chicago employee since 1996, Keane has worked in the city’s Department of Environment, spent eight years in the Budget Department, and has been with the Finance Department for the past two years.
She said she hasn’t found a replacement for her old position as First Deputy Comptroller, so she’ll be acting in both capacities for the time being. In her brief opening remarks, she mentioned her time with the city, her residence on the South Side and her two sons who attend CPS. “My chief focus will be ensuring that we are operating as efficiently as possible,” she explained. But when asked by Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) what specific recommendations she has to address the backlog of city fines, she asked for more time to get the lay of the land and come back with “concrete answers.”
Ald. Harry Osterman (48) also took the opportunity to urge Keane to work with Chicago Public Schools as it faces a $1.1 billion budget deficit next school year. “I think we need revenue, and positive revenue ideas. I think we also need to look at trying to help support CPS. While it’s a sister agency, even the best case scenario out of Springfield is going to leave us short. That’s going to have a devastating effect on families in Chicago, students in Chicago.” Ald. Osterman said he’s already seeing families flee his ward because of school funding uncertainty.
Housing Committee Approves $5 Million Extra for Malcolm X Demolition Without Comment
by A.D. Quig – email@example.com
Committee members quickly approved a $15 million spend for demolition and remediation of the old Malcolm X College site, a new office for the city’s lobbyists in Washington DC, and a Cabrini Green development with both CHA and affordable housing units.
Attendance: Chairman Joe Moore (49), Vice Chair Greg Mitchell (7), Pat Dowell (3), Sophia King (4), Michelle Harris (8), George Cardenas (12), Raymond Lopez (15), David Moore (17), Matt O’Shea (19), Michael Scott Jr. (24), Walter Burnett Jr. (27), Milly Santiago (31), Deb Mell (33), James Cappleman (46)
The biggest ticket item of the day had the shortest discussion: the amendment to an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the Public Building Commission for more than $5 million in extra city spending on demolition and remediation of the old Malcolm X College site. After a brief explanation from the Department of Fleet and Facility Management’s Jennifer Muss, who said the “extent of abatement required for the facility is more extensive than they anticipated,” aldermen passed $15 million allocation by voice vote. That city contribution comes from a revolving line of credit agreement among the city, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of China and BMO Harris.
The committee also approved a new, more expensive lease for the city’s lobbying office in Washington, D.C. closer to public transit. The previous office rent was about $60,000 per year, but is being demolished, Stephen Stults with the Department of Fleet and Facility Management testified. The two staffers and additional interns that use the space were presented with 15 to 20 potential locations, and toured at least six, all with similar rents. They landed on a 1,700 square foot space on the corner of K Street and Connecticut Avenue near the White House. The rent will rise annually from $78,752 in its first year to $87,778 in the fifth.
Ald. Walter Burnett (27) also won committee approval for a negotiation that would allow the new Xavier apartment building at 625 W. Division St. to add both CHA eligible and affordable units. Typical units go for about $3000 apiece, Burnett said, but under the negotiated deal, 10% will be CHA eligible and 10% will be affordable. “I made a commitment around here because I made people lose their homes when they tore down the [old] building,” Burnett said, referring to the old Cabrini Green housing projects.
The agreement had to go through several hurdles with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and with the Housing Authority, Burnett said. He said other developers he’s spoken with in his ward prefer leasing units to the CHA over providing their own affordable units. “CHA pays more money for the units. With the affordable part, we don’t pay them anything,” he said.
Allowing both types of units meant subjecting this building to the 2015 Affordable Requirements Ordinance, the Department of Planning and Development’s Kara Breems said. The carve out is what the committee voted on yesterday.
License Committee Approves Towing Bill of Rights, Wrigley Plaza Deal
by A.D. Quig – firstname.lastname@example.org
City Council’s License Committee passed a compromise deal for the Chicago Cubs to hold outdoor events and sell wine and beer at its outdoor plaza, as well as tougher rules for towing companies introduced by Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) and Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30).
Attendance: Chairman Emma Mitts (37), Rod Sawyer (6), Greg Mitchell (7), Marty Quinn (13), Raymond Lopez (15), Toni Foulkes (16), David Moore (17), Matt O’Shea (19), Willie B. Cochran (20), Roberto Maldonado (26), Chris Taliaferro (29), Ariel Reboyras (30), Milly Santiago (31), Scott Waguespack (32), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), Michele Smith (43), Tom Tunney (44), John Arena (45), Ameya Pawar (47)
The bulk of yesterday’s meeting was spent discussing a “compromise” substitute ordinance backed by Ald. Tom Tunney (44) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel creating a new licensing class for sports plazas, and specific regulations for Wrigley Field’s plaza on the corner of Addison and Sheffield. Any other sports venue that wants to apply for a sports plaza license would be subject to its own restrictions and a City Council vote. The liquor license for the newly designated venue will cost $1,760.
Sports plaza license holders would have to enter into a “plan of operation” with the commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) “to mitigate any adverse effects on the surrounding community” for events with over 500 people, including extra security, restricted hours of operation, and trash pickup.
More on the Wrigley regulations:
- Hours: On non-event days, the Plaza will have to be closed between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and can stay open an hour later on Fridays and Saturdays. On event days, if the event ends after sunset, the plaza must close no later than 45 minutes after the stadium event ends.
- Liquor Sales: Liquor sales will be off limits between 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. between Sunday and Thursday, and an hour later on weekends. Liquor sales can start two hours before stadium events and end at 11:00 p.m. at the latest, depending on the type and timing of the event. Beer and wine are the only drinks that can be sold in disposable cups under 16 ounces. There can be four kiosks selling alcohol in the plaza. Only ticketholders can access the plaza during stadium events.
- Special events: A maximum of 12 special events can be held at the plaza each year. Only five can be concerts. Non-weekend events between Labor Day and June 15 (the school year, roughly) must end before 9pm. Special events with more than 12,500 people in attendance (concerts, most likely) can only be scheduled on weekends during the school year.
Ald. Tunney and Cubs officials have been sparring for weeks over the proposed regulations for the plaza. Tunney said repeatedly that his top priorities were public safety and quality of life for residents and fans, and different possibilities for the site were discussed “ad nauseum.”
“We need to move forward, we need to give the Cubs this opportunity,” Tunney said, noting each side sacrificed. “I understand the business economy, but I also know sitting here for 13 years that there is a role for government, there is a role for regulation. I think this is a good compromise moving forward to give the Cubs the necessary tools to compete on and off the field, while still being the best neighbor they possibly can.” The ordinance for Wrigley sunsets on November 30, 2019. Tunney said incremental restrictions “[let] us crawl before we walk, before we run.”
Mike Lufrano, an executive with the Cubs, wanted more. He reminded the committee the plaza envisioned in the 2013 planned development was initially estimated to provide $40 million taxes to the city over the next 30 years, “a major contributor to the city’s budget.” It was also designed to help Wrigley’s owners, the Ricketts family, recoup some of their $750 million investment.
He said he and the Cubs have offered “many different options” to open up the plaza for other bigger scale events like movies in the park, food events, and away game viewing parties, which will be limited by the plaza restriction to 12 events with large crowds. “We don’t think we should be saying no just because the events become popular.”
Mayor Emanuel lauded the rules in a short statement released after the vote: “This is a significant step forward on a reasonable agreement that will allow the Cubs to offer new opportunities to their fans, while maintaining a high quality of life for those who live in the neighborhood. This is further proof of the progress that is possible when you choose compromise over combat and the City of Chicago will be better off as a result of all sides coming together.” Other aldermen on the committee and representatives from neighborhood groups largely thanked Tunney for balancing neighborhood interests with a major economic driver in the ward.
The ordinance will be in full force and effect after publication.
Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) and Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30) had a comparatively breezy time passing their proposed “Towing Bill of Rights” at the tail end of yesterday’s meeting. Pawar served as the only witness. The rules mandate towing companies must post and provide a copy of the bill of rights for customers, and install dashboard cameras in towing cars.
“We all know about the towing companies that take advantage of the people they tow,” Pawar said, alluding to Lincoln Towing, which already faced tough questioning at a contentious subject matter hearing earlier this year. Pawar said he ultimately hoped the Illinois Commerce Commission removed Lincoln Towing’s operating license, but until then, the bill of rights would remind consumers of their rights under Illinois statute and the municipal code.
“If you get towed, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that you’re not beaten up, threatened, have items from your car stolen, have your car damaged… this sets out a clear set of expectations from a towing company to a consumer.”
That ten point bill of rights includes the following:
- No car can be towed from private property without written consent of the property owner to conduct removals.
- No car can be towed if the lot doesn’t have signs posted reflecting the parking laws.
- Towing companies have to publicize their rates and charges.
- Cars can’t be towed if the owner shows up with the ignition key and removes the car from the property before the car is completely off the lot. Commercial drivers face the same rules, but must pay at least half the posted rate of the towing service.
- Towing companies have to notify the Chicago Police Department within 30 minutes of removing a car.
- Towing companies must accept cash, traveler’s checks, money orders, cashier’s checks, certified checks, credit, and debit cards.
- Even if the car owner can’t pay to take the car back, they must be given access to reclaim items from inside the car.
- Upon request, towing companies must give the owner of the towed car a picture of the car taken before it was towed that shows the date and time of the tow, the car’s location, and its license plate number, and other relevant video records of the relocation
Under the measure, towing companies would have to give the Chicago Police Department a list of all locations where they have an active contract to remove unauthorized cars every year. Towing companies would have to say whether the agreement allows that company to patrol those lots, or whether the company has to be called to remove a car. Tow trucks must be equipped with on-board cameras that show the front and rear of the car, capture audio from inside, and the date and time each car was towed. The company will have to hold on to those videos for a year, and provide video to owners of towed cars, if they request it.
The committee also passed, without discussion, a new brewery in Back of the Yards, a mead winery in the 21st Ward, and cleanup language regarding the grace period to renew city stickers. A separate item from the City Clerk’s office regarding wheel tax emblems for commercial vehicles was held.
All other agenda items passed by voice vote, including reinstatement of lapsed liquor moratoriums from Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), which he said would be reconsidered after community meetings. In April, committee also approved nineteen ordinances renewing various liquor moratoriums in his ward. All of which, according to him, had either been put in place by his predecessor, Rey Colon, or were along streets recently incorporated during the ward remap.
Second DOJ Public Forum Tonight
by Mike Fourcher – email@example.com
The Department of Justice is conducting the second of a series of four public forums this evening, as part of investigation into the Chicago Police Department. The first forum on Monday evening at Malcolm X College, which did not receive significant promotion (and escaped the notice of this publication) attracted a mere 30 attendees. Progress Illinois reported that DOJ representatives at Monday’s meeting, “said they have already heard from about 400 community members about their experiences with the CPD through an email hotline and letters.”
Tonight’s meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at Kennedy King City College (U Building), 740 W. 63rd St.
According to a release from the DOJ, “The purpose of the pattern or practice investigation is to determine whether there are systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law by the Chicago Police Department.”
A third meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., July 12, at Truman College, and a fourth public meeting for 6:30 p.m. at KROC Center Chapel, 1250 W. 119th St.