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City Council Votes To Make It Easier For Businesses Seeking Sign Permits, OK’s $1.2 Million Settlement

The settlement was one of three approved Wednesday totaling $1.9 million.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) speaks at a City Council meeting June 25, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — City Council overwhelmingly approved a compromise deal Wednesday to speed up permitting for businesses that want to put up signs, awnings or advertisements.

It was a bumpy ride to approval: Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed the ordinance, which would strip aldermen of ultimate authority over issuing of the permits. But aldermen argued at a meeting last month they know what is best for their ward and are best positioned to deny problematic applications, and they voted to remove the provision from Lightfoot’s business package.

But a revised ordinance was approved Wednesday, with only Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) voting against the measure.

Lightfoot praised the compromise in a news conference after Wednesday’s meeting, saying the previous method to obtain a permit presented an “absolutely unnecessary burden on our small businesses at a time when we should shrinking the red tape, not piling on.”

Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said the compromise “results in a much faster issuance of the vast majority of public way use permits for businesses … . The ordinance also retains City Council’s authority to determine the outcome of permits.”

Previously, businesses would ultimately have to get an ordinance OK’d by City Council to get their sign or awning approved.

The compromise allows for public way use permits to instead be approved without the need for a city ordinance if the application has the OK from the local alderman and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, according to a briefing on the language provided to aldermen this week.

If the alderman and business department agree an application does not meet the requirements, it will not be issued. If the local alderman is opposed to the application but the business department believes it is fine, the department will work with the applicant to introduce an ordinance for City Council consideration.

Police Settlements

On the same day City Council voted to create a civilian-led oversight commission of the Police Department, aldermen approved $1.9 million in police misconduct settlements. 

In a 35-14 vote, aldermen approved a $1.2 million settlement for the family of Pierre Loury, a 16-year-old whom police shot to death in 2016. Loury had been in a car that was pulled over when he tried to run away and police chased him. At one point during the chase, Loury was on a fence when an officer shot and killed him.

City attorney Jeff Levine told aldermen at a Finance Committee meeting on Monday that the city would face a tough task winning over a jury if the case went to trial, according to The Daily Line. The settlement is a “sound strategic decision,” he said, according to WTTW.

Those voting against the settlement were Alds. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th); Marty Quinn (13th); Ed Burke (14th); Ray Lopez (15th); Derrick Curtis (18th); Matthew O’Shea (19th); Silvana Tabares (23rd); Felix Cardona (31st); Nick Sposato (38th); Samantha Nugent (39th); Anthony Napolitano (41st); Brendan Reilly (42nd); James Gardiner (45th) and Debra Silverstein (50th).

The Police Department revised its foot pursuit policy this year in the wake of officers shooting and killing 13-year old Adam Toledo and 22-year old Anthony Alvarez following foot chases in separate incidents just days apart in March.

The policy does not ban foot pursuits, but it stipulates chases must be initiated only if there “is probable cause for an arrest or it is believed an individual has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime,” according to the Police Department.

Foot pursuits are banned over “minor traffic offenses,” according to the policy.

Activists and police reform advocates have criticized the new policy as “vague” and not restrictive enough. 

Also Wednesday, aldermen voted 40-9 to approve $400,000 for a separate settlement for the family of Shawn Yawer, who was the victim of “malicious prosecution” and died by suicide four years after the incident. 

Levine told aldermen “officers used more force than was appropriate, which resulted in his head wound, and his serious arm injury, and his mental health deterioration.” 

Daley Thompson, Quinn, Burke, Lopez, Curtis, O’Shea, Tabares, Sposato and Napolitano voted against the settlement.

Another $300,000 was approved for an anonymous woman who alleged a police officer solicited sex and sexually assaulted her when she was a minor. The settlement was unanimously approved.

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