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City Council Meeting Update

City Council passes Mayor’s Ordinance to Reform Zoning Rules and Improve Air Quality - The ordinance will improve air quality by restricting where businesses that emit air pollution may build new facilities. The new version of the ordinance was a compromise but also puts more review and processes in place via the Plan Commission and various departments with a more open and robust process. Contrary to some of the comments made at the committee, this ordinance does improves community input and is in addition to zoning and development regulations we have strengthened in the Plan Commission over the past two years. The previous version of the ordinance would have sent the proposals to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). Based on years of experience with the ZBA, the Plan Commission simply provides a more comprehensive and open process. The changes to the Zoning Code impose new, independent land-use reviews over the opening or expansion of facilities that release air pollutants, such as incinerators, distribution and logistics facilities and recycling operations.

The major changes in the Air Quality & Zoning Ordinance include:

  • Introduction of site plan review criteria

  • Increased notice requirements related to special uses

  • Addressing retail activity in manufacturing and planned manufacturing districts for which the general public are not allowed on premises.

  • Subjecting industrial uses to the Sustainable Develop Policy of the Department of Planning and Development

  • Requiring that certain businesses, including intensive manufacturers, recyclers and freight/logistics facilities, undergo new and additional review and public comment before being approved to open a facility

  • Establishing planned development review for major new industrial uses. Planned development review imposes additional scrutiny and public comment, as well as City Council approval, for the most intensive industrial and manufacturing uses. The City will also strengthen its air quality enforcement and inspection processes in our departments.

Mayor Lightfoot ordinance to improve building scofflaw list and require mandatory inspections for problem buildings

The City currently publishes a Building Code Scofflaw List identifying residential building owners with three or more properties that are the subject of active Circuit Court cases where the violations remain uncorrected after the second court hearing. The proposed amendment creates a new designation of priority buildings with serious and chronic code violations and designates the building owners as building code scofflaws by updating the criteria to include:

  • Occupied buildings;

  • Residential and non-residential buildings;

  • Buildings subject to proceedings initiated by the Corporation Counsel in the Circuit Court to enforce building-related provisions of the Municipal Code;

  • Buildings subject to active enforcement proceedings more than eighteen months after the initial hearing date in such proceedings; and

  • Drug and gang houses being monitored pursuant to the Troubled Buildings Initiative Program.

To help combat problem buildings, the ordinance will include a prohibition of business licenses, zoning changes, acquisition of City land or receipt of financial assistance like Tax Increment Financing (TIF), or obtaining building permits. This is a welcome improvement to help tackle problem buildings in our neighborhoods.

City Council passes 606-Pilsen Demolition Permit Surcharge - The pilot ordinance will last one year and impose a surcharge on permits to demolish residential buildings, helping to maintain the existing neighborhood character and housing stock and reduce displacement in areas C the Bloomingdale Trail (The 606) and Pilsen Pilot areas. The ordinance applies to two-to eight-unit buildings that often provide naturally occurring affordable housing units.

Plastics Bill Introduced at Federal Level- Senator Dick Durbin and Senate Colleagues have introduced a bill called Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act that would take great steps to curb plastics pollution in the U.S. and lift up our ‘Plastic-Free Water Ordinance’ that would reduce plastic pollution by eliminating significant sources of single-use plastic in Chicago, advancing sustainable solutions to keep drinking water clean and ecosystems healthy.

The Senate Bill would Require big corporations to take responsibility for their pollution by requiring producers of plastic products to design, manage, and finance waste and recycling programs. Read the whole bill here. This is the kind of bill we all need to help clean up our environment for today and future generations.

Council Passes Municipal Depository Ordinance after Review in Committee on Finance- As Chair of the Committee on Finance, I was able to hold hearings on the status and changes to the annual municipal depositories of the City of Chicago.

The pool of selected entities are voted in by Council and sent to the City Treasurer where they manage the fees and percentages of funds split between approved depository applicants.

Together with the City Comptroller, our office worked to improve the Request for Proposals language . This year we added banks that had not previously applied The following language was added to the Community Reinvestment Act Affidavit to be signed by the banks –"C. Commit to affirmatively market and make available banking services throughout Chicago's low and moderate income communities by opening and/or maintaining branch locations within those communities and not merely by installing ATM distribution centers there." Under Section 12 of the RFP -Selection Criteria –“Demonstrated commitment to support community and economic development within the City.”

Nine banking institutions responded to the RFP and outreach from the City Comptrollers office. Over 40 did not respond or declined to participate. Those that were voted on by the Council included Amalgamated Bank of Chicago, Associated Bank, Bank of America NA, BMO Harris Bank, Citibank, Fifth Third Bank, National Association, GN Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, MUFG Union Bank, PNC Bank, The Huntington National Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and Zions Bancorporation. The 2021 list includes Black-owned banks participating for the first time.

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