Out of more than 1,000 introductions at City Council this week, here’s a few interesting ones we didn’t get to yesterday.
New City Gas Tax
A fuel tax ordinance from Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) would increase the city gas tax from $0.05 to $0.12 starting May 1, 2016, with proceeds dedicated to pay for construction, repair, upkeep, and maintenance of roads, highways bridges, alleys, crossings, tracks and other public ways going forward. At a press conference Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he’s pro-infrastructure, but believes the plan should go through Springfield and that “Chicago not try to create itself an island.”
B&B Fee For Homeless Housing
A new 4% tax on gross rental or leasing charges at B&Bs and shared housing units would fund supportive services attached to permanent housing for homeless families, under a proposal from Ald. James Cappleman (46). Cappleman, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) whose ward includes Uptown, has been a proponent of “housing first” to address homelessness. His introduction is just one of many proposals changing regulation or imposing new fees on shared housing or vacation rental units: there’s one from Mayor Emanuel, another regulating renting bungalows from North Side aldermen, one tightening B&B restrictions from aldermen with wards close to downtown, and another calling for better enforcement of current rules from Ald. Brendan Reilly (42). Hearings on the proposals have been delayed, in part, sources say, because of former Ald. Will Burns’ (4) exit from council to lobby for Airbnb.
Several animal-related ordinances were also introduced Wednesday. Ald. Brian Hopkins (2), whose communications director cited coyote spottings as far south as Streeterville, is calling for a humane coyote management program. Ald. Raymond Lopez (15), the father of eight dogs, has called for hearings on “state-sponsored euthanasia” at the city’s Animal Care and Control. He also co-sponsored an ordinance with Ald. Ed Burke (14) calling for dog catchers to use micro-chipping technology when impounding strays to get them home faster.
The same day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he’d concluded a new search for the new head of Animal Control: Susan Russell. She is “an attorney by trade,” according to a release from the Mayor’s office, and an “an active volunteer over the past 20 years in a number of animal and community groups.” Russell has also authored Shelter Dog Kisses, We Can’t Go There. We’re Bears, and A Ruff Road Home: The Court Case Dogs of Chicago.
Arming Airport Police Officers
Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29), a former police officer, has introduced an ordinancerequiring special policemen at City airports to carry guns, which they are currently unauthorized to do. Taliaferro has been working on the ordinance for months, in part in response to a CNN report from December: “Guidance to unarmed aviation police: Run and hide”.
Patio Alcohol Sales
Outdoor patio alcohol sales would be cut off at midnight in the central business district under an ordinance from downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42). Nearly identical ordinances have been passed by Reilly in years past, just ahead of warm weather, and all expiring December 1.
Speed Camera Warnings
Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26) wants to warn drivers when they’re approaching a speed camera. He introduced an ordinance calling for “No less than three such signs visible to traffic approaching the automated speed enforcement system.” The ordinance has 29 sponsors.
Property Tax Rebate
Members of the Progressive Caucus have introduced a property tax rebate program ordinance, a few weeks before a deadline for Springfield to consider Mayor Emanuel’s expanded homeowners exemption. In a resolution passed alongside this year’s record property tax hike, aldermen agreed to pursue a rebate program if Springfield didn’t pass Mayor Emanuel’s amendment doubling Chicago’s homeowner’s exemption from $7,000 to $14,000 by April 30. Ald. Joe Moreno (1), a sponsor of one of many rebate ordinance, called for a hearing on rebate programs weeks ago, but there’s been no movement so far.