The full City Council meets today to vote on some high profile items, like a 50-cent surcharge on taxi rides paid with debit or credit, a sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products, a ban on chewing tobacco at Cubs, Sox, and other sports venues, and $830K in police-related settlements.
Aldermen will also have an opportunity, during the Miscellaneous portion of the meeting, to reconsider the Mayor’s package of tobacco reforms that was blocked at last month’s meeting. Anti-tobacco advocates will hold another press conference this morning at 9:15 to push aldermen for a yes vote on a higher smoking age and prices for tobacco products.
But before the Council convenes at 10:00 a.m., the Council’s Transportation Committee will meet at 9:30 a.m., to finish up some business tabled at last week’s meeting: a proposed vacation of portions of North Field Boulevard, between Wacker Drive and East South Water Street as part of the Wanda Vista Tower development.
Items Awaiting Council Action (Highlights)
Proposed 50-cent Surcharge Taxi Rides Paid with Plastic: The 50-cent fee is aimed at easing the burden on taxi companies that have to pay a 5% service fee for credit card payments. The money will go to the cab companies, not the drivers. This point was clarified in the substitute ordinance from sponsor Ald. Anthony Beale (9) adopted in committee. The substitute added the following provision: “The convenience fee shall be used only to cover any portion of the processing fee and related costs that a licensee incurs to accept non-cash payments for taxi services through credit card processing equipment approved by the department.”
$29M Land Sale of Malcolm X College: The city will sell the campus to Rush University for a new medical academic village and to the Chicago Blackhawksfor a new training center and community ice rink. The sale is broken up into two ordinances – one for Rush (worth $17.5 million), and one for the Blackhawks (worth $11.7 million).
Eliminating the “tampon tax” in Chicago: An ordinance from Aldermen Ed Burke (14) and Leslie Hairston (5) that would exempt tampons and sanitary napkins from the city’s 1.5% sales tax. There are two related resolutions: Oneresolution calls on the Illinois General Assembly to adopt legislation to reclassify tampons and sanitary napkins as medical necessities, so those products may be exempt from the state’s sales tax. Another calls on the Illinois Department of Revenue to do the same.
Chewing Tobacco Ban at Sports Events: The unanimously approved ordinance would ban on chewing tobacco at sporting venues, including Wrigley and Cellular Fields. The measure would become law 90 days from that vote. Violators of the new rules would face fines up to $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense, and up to $2,500 for each additional offense that occurs within one year of the first violation. Ald. Burke is the lead sponsor.
$830K in two police-related settlements: One $205K payout will go to Caprice Halley, Tevin Ford, and Willie Douglas, who is the special administrator for the estate of Robert Douglas, who died in an unrelated incident. The three plaintiffs allege 22nd District police officers conducted an unlawful search and seizure back in May 2013. Ald. David Moore (17) requested to see video of the incident, which Finance Chair Ed Burke said would be arranged before today’s meeting. The other payout, $625K, will go to Marlon Pendleton, who was wrongfully convicted in 1993 of a sexual assault. He was exonerated and released from prison in the fall of 2006, after DNA testing proved he was innocent.
Mayor’s Proposed Home Buyer Assistance Program: Mayor Emanuel introduced this ordinance in February to “encourage homeownership” by providing downpayment assistance to low- and middle-income families. Under the program, which will be administered by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, qualified homebuyers could receive a grant for up to 7% of the total loan amount based on income. The city will invest $1 million toward getting the program off the ground.
Beefed Up Minority Requirements for City Contracts: This ordinance amends the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity requirements with the goal of increasing job opportunities for minority and female workers in all city-funded construction projects, which are worth nearly $300 million annually. The city incentivizes contractors to set aside a certain number of labor hours for minority and women apprentices, laborers and journeymen when bidding for city contracts. The plan introduced by Mayor Emanuel increases those bid incentives for vendors to hire minority workers (from 50% to 70%) and for female workers (from 10% to 15%). It also adds new incentives to hire residents from “neighborhoods of economic need.” Chief Procurement Officer Jamie Rhee provided a map to aldermen of disadvantaged areas that qualify for the incentive, which are largely on the South Side. She said it was calculated using the city’s hardship index.
Stormwater Program at 30 CPS Schools: An intergovernmental agreementbetween the city and the Board of Education to expand the green stormwater infrastructure projects at Chicago Public Schools will be phased in over the next five years. The first phase of the “Room to Grow” program cost roughly $5.87 million. The IGA awaiting committee approval today commits $2 million in funding toward that first phase payment, and notes that MWRD will provide matching funds, up to $500,000 for each of those four schools. It also re-ups the program for an additional six schools per year for five years. The total cost is $15 million.
BACP Licensing Changes for Cabbies, Pedicab Drivers, Carriages: The ordinance from the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection modifies licensing requirements and reduces licensing fees for pedicabs, public chauffeurs, and horse-drawn carriages. The ordinance lowers the licensing fee for all applicants to $5. Those interested in applying for a public chauffeur’s license would only need to have had a driver’s license for one year, instead of three. They are also no longer required to have an Illinois driver’s license. The change was made to accommodate drivers from ride-hailing companies who have out-of-state plates but want to pick up customers in Chicago. Progressive aldermen could introduce an ordinance today pushing for tougher licensing for Uber and Lyft drivers to “level the playing field” for cab drivers, who said their industry was on the “verge of collapse” at committee meetings over the past week.
Animal Shelter Cafe Permits: This ordinance from Ald. Deb Silverstein (50) would create a new permit to let animal shelters serve non-alcoholic drinks. Beverages could only be sold in a designated cafe area and to prospective adopters. The two year permit would cost $250, and only applicants with a valid animal care license, or a member of a humane society “whose mission is to rescue animals” would be eligible. The city’s public health department would enforce the rules, and violators could face up to $1,000 in fines.
Property Tax Break for Best Western Hotel: A 7(c) property tax incentive for a proposed boutique Best Western Hotel near Midway Airport. The 31,000 square foot, three-story hotel will be part of Best Western’s new upscale lifestyle brand, “Vib”, and will include 74 hotel rooms. The hotel will replace the former Alamo Car Rental building at 6501-6549 S. Cicero Ave., which has been vacant for the past three years.
TIF $ for Portage Park’s Six Corners: A redevelopment agreement with Irving Park Property Holdings, LLC. This ordinance makes available $2 million in TIF assistance for a mixed-use redevelopment of three vacant buildings in Portage Park’s “Six Corners” shopping district.
A redevelopment plan for the Lathrop Homes on the city’s North Side: In total, the master plan allows for 1,208 units. Of those units, 92 will be located within a senior home and all of those units will be Section 8 Housing, making the total percentage of affordable units at the Lathrop site about 60%. The remaining the 1,116 units will be distributed as follows: 400 public housing units (36%), 494 market rate units (44%), and 222 affordable units (20%) for families with an annual median income (AMI) of about $40,000 for a family of four. Passionate opposition at Plan Commission wasn’t as strong when this issue was passed out of Zoning Committee Monday.
A redevelopment plan to transform the old Edgewater Medical Center into apartments: The developer for the site, MCZ Edgewater LLC, is a joint venture of Michael J. Lerner, Michael N. Lerner, Thad Wong, and Michael Golden. They plan to transform the ten-story former hospital building into a residential high rise with 141 units, 78 accessory parking spaces, and 50 bike stalls. The units will be a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments. An adjacent community park is also planned for the site.
More than 400 sidewalk cafe permits: The city’s sidewalk cafe season began on March 1st, and lasts through December 1st. The permits have a nine month term, and must be applied for, and issued, every year. Most of the applications are in the 1st, 2nd, 42nd, 44th, and 47th Wards.