Ald. Ameya Pawar’s (47) “Towing Bill of Rights”, Ald. Tom Tunney’s (44) proposed regulations aimed at Wrigley Field’s planned plaza, and wheel tax changes from City Clerk Susana Mendoza top an otherwise routine License and Consumer Protection Committee meeting today.
Ald. Tunney’s ordinance doesn’t yet reflect a recent compromise he landed on with Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced earlier this month. Under the agreement, the Cubs would be permitted to operate a new outdoor plaza adjacent to Wrigley Field, with restrictions on hours of operation and alcohol sales, with different hours for game days, non-game days, and special events like farmers’ markets, ice skating and movies.
During day games, the Cubs would be allowed to sell beer and wine until an hour after the game ends. On night game days, they will be allowed to sell until the end of the game. Tickets would be required to get into the plaza on game days.
It’s likely the substitute to Tunney’s ordinance will be directly introduced today, despite objections from Cubs representatives, who told the Sun-Times earlier this month the terms of the plaza deal were unreasonable. Saying they were miles apart from the mayor and Ald. Tunney, Cubs officials argued they should have more leeway on plaza hours, given the team’s $750 million investment. Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said he preferred the 2013 deal that expires this year.
Ald. Pawar’s “Towing Bill of Rights”, crafted after a long subject matter hearing marked by consumer complaints against Lincoln Towing, is also up for a vote today. 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 bill of rights included in the ordinance has 10 bullet points, which includes provisions saying towers can’t take a car away if the driver comes to the scene before the car’s completely removed from the property and presents the key to the ignition; towing companies must accept various payments, including checks and credit cards; and operators have to allow drivers to retrieve their belongings from a towed car, even if they can’t pay to take it off the lot.
City Clerk Susana Mendoza is also introducing two municipal code changes today, both cleanup ordinances. One she has been warning about on social media for weeks: changes to the grace period for vehicle stickers that could mean $200 tickets for drivers who don’t renew in time.
Starting July 1, the changes “will make motorists eligible to be ticketed immediately following their vehicle sticker expiration. For example, if your vehicle sticker expires on June 30, you are eligible to be ticketed on July 1. The $200.00 ticket can be issued daily.” The grace period for late fees will be extended from 15 to 30 days effective on that same day. “A motorist with a vehicle sticker expiring June 30 will have until July 30 to purchase a sticker without paying an additional $60.00 late fee.” That ordinance with the original changes passed in 2014. The other ordinance reflects changes regulating commercial vehicles in the city.