City Council Passes Ordinances That Support Small Business Growth

January 13, 2010

Efrat Stein    312.744.5365

Today, the Chicago City Council passed a series of ordinances which are part of Mayor Daley's Small Business Agenda that ease start-up and day-to-day operating burdens on small businesses by streamlining public way use permitting requirements and providing more options for business owners applying for and renewing a business license.

"These measures will help our small business community address the most pressing challenges to small business creation and growth. They will help to kick start Chicago's economy and strengthen our business community," said Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"These changes will provide businesses with some immediate relief to help them stay afloat while encouraging new business growth," said Norma I. Reyes, Commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

The ordinances will ease the public way use permit process, create a voluntary compliance program for business signs and changes the business license process that determines initial license term fees.

Specifically, the ordinance streamlines the application process and the requirements to obtain sign and public way permits, so the process is simpler and shorter.

The city will offer a new discounted package for a "bundled" permit that consolidates on one joint application the three most common public way permits: business signs, canopies, awnings and lights. Eliminates distinction in fees between electrical and non electrical signs and structures the permit fees to be based on the size of the sign. Eliminates fees for permanent, original parts of residential buildings built prior to 1922 that are on or over the public way, as well as Landmark Buildings and Landmark Districts where part of the Landmark distinction is on or over the public way. Also eliminates fees for landscaping, security cameras, moveable smoking management receptacles, and bicycle racks.

To encourage businesses with existing signs, canopies, awnings or banners to voluntarily come into compliance the City is proposing the following:

A 6 month program where businesses with existing signs up to 100 sq. ft can come into compliance by voluntarily applying for public way use permits and or building permits and receive a one time waiver of fees, and avoid future violations. Signs that do not comply with city requirements do not qualify for the program. The program will waive the building permit fee, zoning review fee and first year’s public way use fee for businesses with existing signs canopy or awnings that do not have a building and or public way use permit. The proposed voluntary compliance program will begin on April 15, 2009.

The ordinance seeks to revise the business licensing process so that:

New business owners will pay for a first time business license that is directly proportional to the term of the license. Business owners will have the flexibility to choose between a two-year or four-year license term. Expand installment options for business license fees to include liquor establishments. The proposed license fee changes will begin 120 days from passage and approval of the ordinance.

"The small business sector is the backbone of our city's economy. So its in the best interest of all the residents of Chicago when government encourages and assists small businesses," said Daley.



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