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CITY HALL — Aldermen will gather for the first City Council meeting of 2020 on Wednesday and find themselves in much the same place as they ended 2019 — dissatisfied with the rules set by state lawmakers governing the sale and consumption of recreational marijuana.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed Tuesday to delay a vote on her proposal that would limit consumption-on-premises licenses to retail tobacco stores that derive 80 percent of their revenue from the sale of tobacco-related products — in keeping with the rules put in place by state lawmakers.

That measure stalled last week as aldermen said they were concerned the rules were too rigid and could force Chicagoans prohibited from smoking marijuana in their homes to do it outside, risking arrest at a time when Gov. JB Pritzker has pardoned thousands of Illinois residents for marijuana-related crimes.

Lightfoot’s proposed rules would have limited on-site consumption would be limited to cigar bars and hookah lounges.

To sell marijuana and allow on-site consumption, lounges would have to pay $4,400 to get a two-year license, be the only occupant of their building and prevent smoke from reaching areas where smoking is prohibited, including patios and internal courtyards.

The city plans to permit dispensaries to allow on-site consumption in the coming months, officials said.

Lightfoot told reporters Friday that she had the votes to pass the measure, and said it was important for the city to move quickly.

The delay was the third time that Lightfoot’s proposed rules for marijuana hit a wall of opposition among aldermen. In November, aldermen forced changes to shift the Downtown area where sales are prohibited under Lightfoot’s plan, and they limited the places dispensaries are permitted to set up shop a zoning change. 

In December, aldermen attempted to force a six-month delay in legal marijuana sales because of concerns that none of the firms set to reap the financial windfall were owned by Black or Latino Chicagoans.

Aldermen said they would ask the General Assembly to loosen the rules they put in place for public consumption of marijuana to allow cafes to sell and serve edible marijuana products and ease the requirement that the smoke shops make 80 percent of their revenue from tobacco products.

However, state lawmakers may not be willing reopen negotiations over the landmark law that legalized marijuana in Illinois as of Jan. 1 — especially at a time when Lightfoot has asked them to also change the rules to make a Chicago casino more attractive and to allow her to hike the city’s Real Estate Transfer Tax.

“We need to figure out what’s possible,” said Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th), the mayor’s floor leader.

However, aldermen are set to consider a measure approved Tuesday by the Zoning Committee would strike the city’s previously-approved language on precinct-level dispensary bans and defer instead to the amendments lawmakers wrote into the state’s cannabis law during last fall’s veto session.

Ban on demolitions near the 606 set for vote

Before the full City Council meets at 10 a.m., the Housing and Real Estate Committee will meet at 9 a.m. to vote on a scaled-back measure to ban demolitions near the 606 Bloomingdale Trail as a way to blunt rapid gentrification along the popular trail.

Lightfoot said Tuesday afternoon said she supported the revised measure, even though she blasted the original proposal as misguided and likely illegal four days ago.

RelatedVote set on proposal to freeze development near 606, with Lightfoot’s support

Welcoming City ordinance

Aldermen are also expected to moderately expand the city’s protections for undocumented immigrants by approving a proposal backed by the mayor and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th).

The measure would make Lightfoot’s July 2019 executive order terminating ICE agents’ access to the city’s gang databases part of the city code.

In addition, the revised ordinance would require city officials to document all requests for assistance from the federal government and specifically outlaw several methods that ICE has used when asking for city assistance. The measure would also require officials to develop sanctuary policies for all city facilities to prevent immigration agents from detaining undocumented immigrants on city property.

Food trucks

Aldermen are also set to ease the city’s rules for food trucks by allowing the mobile kitchens to stay in one spot for four hours — up from the current rule limiting them to two hours.

The trucks will have to remain 200 feet away from brick-and-mortar restaurants — an issue that prompted years of lawsuits.

RelatedSupreme Court upholds Chicago food truck rules, ending 7-year legal fight — for now

The measure also creates a new two-year permit for mobile businesses — a proposal first made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in May 2018, but which foundered amid concerns that it would hurt the city’s legal defense of its food truck rules.

The new licenses for mobile merchants will cost $250, and allow them to do business between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. from any parking space in Chicago for up to four hours at a time.

Aldermen will also consider two appointments to Lightfoot’s cabinet: Gia Biagi, (A2019-141), who is set to lead the Department of Transportation and Dr. Alison Arwady, (A2019-66), who is the mayor’s pick for the top job at the Department of Public Health.

Biagi told aldermen she plans to preserve the city’s controversial red light camera program, boost neighborhood bike and bus infrastructure, and design public spaces to curb violence.

RelatedBiagi talks up open space, vows to ‘proceed cautiously’ with red light cameras during CDOT confirmation hearing

In October, the committee declined to advance Arwady’s nomination after aldermen grew angry that Arwady would not commit to reopening publicly operated mental health clinics — or detail a plan to expand mental health services in Chicago.

Aldermen vowed to hold Arwady accountable for her promise to expand the city’s mental health services without reopening the clinics while conducting a study and overseeing a task force.

RelatedLightfoot’s pick to lead Health Department advances after dispute over mental health clinics

Aldermen on Wednesday are set give final approval to a number of items:

  • O2019-9402 — A measure to allow the city to purchase seven vacant lots in Woodlawn once owned by long-time Woodlawn real estate developer the Rev. Leon Finney in an effort to stem the tide of gentrification near the planned site of the Obama Presidential Center.
  • O2019-9412 — A measure to allow the Chicago Cubs to continue to allow baseball fans to linger on the plaza outside Wrigley Field known as Gallagher Way on game days.
  • O2019-2659 — A measure to earmark $22.5 million in loans for an all-affordable housing complex at 2602-38 N. Emmett St., next to the Logan Square Blue Line station.
  • O2019-9393 — A measure to allow the city to acquire property so it can build a gym next to McCutcheon Elementary School at 941-943 W Castlewood Terrace in the 46th Ward.
  • O2019-9432 — A measure to spend an additional $1.5 million from the Western Avenue South Tax-Increment Financing District on an effort to renovate the fieldhouse and clubhouse at Revere Park, 2509 W. Irving Park Road, originally expected to cost $6 million.
  • O2019-9391 — A measure that would amend the city’s investment policy to be in line with the Illinois Sustainable Investing Act.
  • O2019-6466 — A measure to sell 376 vacant city-owned lots through the city’s Large Lots program.
  • O2019-4017 — A proposal to renovate the closed Von Humboldt Elementary School at 2600 W. Hirsch St. in the 1st Ward into a 107-unit mixed-income housing complex.
  • O2017-7021 — A proposal by Related Midwest and Tucker Development to build a 300-unit apartment complex at 906 W. Randolph St. 
  • O2019-5542 — A proposal by artist Theaster Gates’ Rebuild Foundation to build an “artist work space and community center” at 6929-61 S. Kenwood Ave. in the 5th Ward. The proposal would also need approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals in order to move forward.
  • O2019-1406 — A proposal by Related Midwest to “add utilities and services” laying the groundwork for a new CTA Red Line station at 101-213 W Roosevelt Rd in the 25th Ward as part of Related’s $7 billion The 78 megadevelopment. The item was approved by the Plan Commission on Dec. 19.
  • O2019-4107 — A proposal by Michael Haney of Newcastle Limited to build a 135-foot-tall mixed-use building with 92 residential units and ground-floor commercial space at 1200-12 N. State St. in the 2nd Ward. The item was approved by the Plan Commission on Dec. 19.
  • O2019-2661 — A proposal by John Pellouchoud to build four buildings comprising 28 townhomes at 1225-35 W. School St. in the 44th Ward. The item was approved by the Plan Commission on Dec. 19.
  • O2019-308  — A proposal by John Novak to allow for construction of an accessory parking lot at Elston Logan Plaza, 2700-18 N. Elston Ave., in the 32nd Ward. The item was approved by the Plan Commission on Dec. 19. The developer struck previous plans to build a drive-thru restaurant, instead opting for a surface parking lot.
  • A2019-142 — Reappointment of Sam Toia to the Zoning Board of Appeals, for a term ending in 2024. Toia is also president of the Illinois Restaurant Association.
  • A2019-143 — Appointment of Suellen M. Burns as member of Commission on Chicago Landmarks, for a term ending in 2023.
  • O2019-9384 — Historical landmark designation for the John Nuveen House at 3916 N Tripp Ave. in the 45th Ward.
  • O2019-9544 — A Class L tax break that would total $19.4 million over 12 years to help transform the former Cook County Hospital building at 1835 W. Harrison St. into a hotel.
  • O2019-9446 — A measure that would earmark $1.4 million to fund the creation of the Wild Mile Chicago: a mile-long floating eco-park designed to brighten up the industrial North Branch Canal of the Chicago River.
  • O2019-9512 — A measure that would earmark $40,000 to supplement a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation to study Chicago River trail and access improvements.
  • O2019-9530 — A measure that would earmark $40,000 for the Chicago Department of Transportation to study access to the South Branch of the Chicago River and Bubbly Creek from Bridgeport, the Lower West Side and three parks along the river.
  • O2019-9425 — A measure that would ban towing companies from immobilizing cars parked illegally in private parking lots in the South Side ward.
  • O2019-9405 — A measure to ban home-sharing services in the 37th precinct of the 13th Ward.
  • O2019-9406 — A measure to ban home-sharing services in the 38th precinct of the 23rd Ward.
  • A2019-146 — 29 appointments to the Advisory Council of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
  • O2019-9396 — The city’s annual special events ordinance, which gives the commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events the ability to manage and execute the city’s biggest events.
  • O2019-9394 — A measure to require organizations and individuals holding an outdoor special event to apply for a permit at least 14 days before the event.
  • A2020-1 — The appointment of Jorge Montes to the Chicago Police Board.
  • R2019-685 — A measure ordering a study of whether businesses that are owned by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Chicagoans face discrimination.
  • A2019-144 — The reappointment of Eduardo M. Cotillas to the Chicago-Gary Airport Authority.
  • Six appointments to Special Service Area Commissions across the city.
  • Twelve appointments to the board of the Chicago Community Land Trust.
  • Eight nominations made by Lightfoot to the Affirmative Action Advisory Board
  • Or2019-512 — An agreement to pay the family of 24-year-old Heriberto Godinez, who died in police custody in July 2015, which was delayed last month amid aldermanic opposition.
  • Agreements to settle three police misconduct lawsuits. [Aldermen reluctantly advance $1M in police misconduct settlements]