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Mayor announces plan to open Chicago’s street to support business and residents

City announces six neighborhood-focused pilot projects to provide relief to local businesses through expanded outdoor dining space; puts forth initial plans to open residential streets for recreational activities. Little Village is included.

CHICAGO (Hina Wire) — The City of Chicago announced today Chicago’s ‘Our Streets’ plan to open and convert residential streets and commercial corridors for alternative uses.

Today’s announcement outlines two main uses for Chicago’s streets as the City looks to move into phase three of its ‘Protecting Chicago’ reopening framework. First, the City plans to convert streets, or portions of those streets and cross-streets, in key commercial corridors throughout the City into expanded outdoor dining, providing much-needed relief to restaurants of all sizes.

Second, the City will also convert residential streets to provide Chicagoans with additional transportation options and space for outside recreational activities while safely social distancing throughout many different neighborhoods as the State’s ‘Stay at Home’ order is lifted.

“As our City looks to move into the next phase of our reopening framework, it is essential that we take additional steps to protect the health and safety of Chicagoans as they visit local businesses and travel throughout the city,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “This vision to reimagine some of Chicago’s residential streets and key restaurant corridors allows for increased social distancing and adherence to public health guidance as we begin the gradual reopening of our great city. In coming days and weeks, I look forward to expanding these pilot projects citywide with input from the public and local stakeholders.”

Through a multi-departmental effort and in coordination with the Illinois Restaurant Association and its members, local chambers of commerce and in conversation with local aldermen, the City has identified six corridors to pilot expanded outdoor dining. These areas have been selected based upon location, proximity to local businesses and residents for ease of walking and biking, and impact to traffic. Over the coming weeks and following the City’s official move into phase three, we will close the roads in these areas to thru traffic during specified hours and restaurants will be allowed to move tables and chairs into the streets to accommodate additional capacity for guests looking to dine outdoors.

The six pilot streets included in the program are:

  • Chatham: 75th Street from Calumet Avenue to Indiana Avenue
  • Lakeview: Broadway from Belmont Avenue to Diversey Parkway
  • Little Village: 26th Street from Central Park to Harding Avenue
  • Rush & Division: Rush Street from Oak Street to Cedar Street
  • Near West Side: Taylor Street from Loomis Street to Ashland Avenue
  • West Loop: Randolph Street from Expressway no further than Elizabeth Street

“Today, Mayor Lightfoot and the city of Chicago are taking clear actions to support our world-class restaurant community in our time of need,” said Sam Toia, President of the Illinois Restaurant Association. “Closing down streets to allow expanded outdoor dining in Chicago’s neighborhoods is an innovative measure to help reopen our economy. This announcement today is not a solution for every restaurant in Chicago, but it is another pragmatic and crucial step forward in the path to recovery.”

“The little village 26th street area chamber of commerce would like to thank Mayor Lori Lightfoot for including the 26th street business corridor in the new outdoor dining pilot,” said Blanca Soto, Executive Director of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce.

After the initial pilots have launched, the City will evaluate the potential to expand programming to other areas in the City. Beginning Monday, June 1, chambers of commerce, SSAs, business associations and restaurants in groups of three or more can visit the City website to submit an application for Expanded Outdoor Dining. This will allow for existing, fully licensed Retail Food Establishments to temporarily use streets or private property for outdoor dining and drinking until 11 PM. However, the City’s 9PM liquor sales curfew remains in effect at all retail establishments. More information on the application process and supporting documents will be made available on the website, as well, and the City will be hosting multiple informational sessions with potential applicants in the coming days.

“It is critical that we pursue every opportunity to creatively support Chicago’s businesses as we reopen cautiously over the coming weeks,” said BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno. “This new pilot adds to our array of outdoor dining options and represents an unprecedented collaboration between City departments, local chambers of commerce, industry groups, and restaurateurs. We know that business owners are looking forward to reopening their doors and it is essential that we provide the resources and options they need to open up safely and responsibly.”

Under the phase three reopening framework, establishments with an active Retail Food Establishment license may reopen for outside dining only, subject to the restrictions in the Food Service guidelines. Businesses that do not serve food, such as bars and lounges, must remain closed except for carry-out or delivery.

In addition to the opportunities available under the Expanded Outdoor Dining program, food-serving establishments may open outdoor patios, rooftops, rooms with retractable roofs, indoor spaces where 50% or more of a wall can be removed via the opening of windows, doors, or panels provided that dining tables are within 8-ft from such openings and sidewalk cafes.

As part of the City’s ongoing efforts to help the small business community, BACP is continuing to issue sidewalk café permits while working with Aldermen to determine how best to deliver an efficient and straightforward permitting process

“Chicago’s 4,000 miles of streets represent 4,000 miles of opportunity to help both our residents and businesses that have faced unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 global pandemic,” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi. “Finding solutions for people to get around safely, reliably and affordably and for businesses to resume more normal operations are essential parts of the City’s re-opening strategy. I am thrilled to have worked in collaboration with many City Departments to find creative approaches that support our communities. Reimagining the use of our streets ensures that we can bring businesses and neighborhoods back stronger and more connected than ever before.”

Throughout the past several weeks, CDOT has been working with transportation stakeholders and local aldermen, while also gathering input from residents throughout Chicago’s many neighborhoods to better understand how the transportation system can support community needs such as social distancing or improving travel to essential jobs. In the coming weeks, CDOT will use this input to launch a citywide effort to open residential streets and provide additional transportation options to residents throughout the city to keep Chicagoans safe and healthy.

“In the COVID era, many more people are choosing to move around on bikes and on foot. It is critical that we provide increased street and sidewalk space for residents to do so safely,” said MarySue Barrett, President of the Metropolitan Planning Council.

Since launching the initial feedback process, CDOT has already received more than 500 requests from Chicagoans, most of them to allow only local traffic along residential streets while opening them to pedestrians and cyclists – easing essential travel to transit stops and local stores, and allowing people to walk or run while maintaining safe distances. Neighborhoods may also request location-specific interventions that reflect local needs, including transit access improvements or collaborations with community groups to improve the accessibility and operation of streets. CDOT will continue to work with aldermen and other community and cultural organizations to determine ways that street design can address local issues beyond social distancing—from transit access and speeding up buses to public and traffic safety, or to address lack of open space in neighborhoods.

Mayor Lightfoot and CDOT also made public new mobility guidelines as part of the ‘Be Safe Chicago’ campaign which provides clear indications of how Chicagoans can maintain safety as they return in greater numbers to walking, driving and riding a bike on Chicago streets. Residents looking to learn more about the Our Streets program and to share their ideas and take a short survey can visit: chicago.gov/covidmobility.

Businesses that are looking for more information about expanding outdoor capacity should reach out to their local chamber of commerce or visit Chicago.gov beginning June 1.

Mayor Lightfoot signs first executive order to limit aldermanic prerogative

In Her First Official Act as Mayor, Lightfoot Instructs Departments to Begin Process of Ending Aldermanic Prerogative as Part of Broader Ethics Reform

In her first hours after being sworn in as the 56th Mayor of the City of Chicago, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot signed her first Executive Order instructing departments to end the practice of aldermanic prerogative in department processes where it is controlled by the Mayor and city departments. The Mayor signed the order in her City Hall office surrounded by aldermen, community leaders, and members of her Good Governance Transition Committee.

“This is a historic day for the city. In my campaign for mayor, I pledged to bring an end to aldermanic prerogative and ensure our government delivers equitable services to all of Chicago’s communities, regardless of their zip code,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Today, I have instructed City departments to begin to end the process of aldermanic prerogative as the first step in a comprehensive ethics reform package to reform the way government works in Chicago.”

The Executive Order streamlines administrative decisions made throughout City departments by eliminating the aldermanic veto while preserving aldermanic voice in departmental decisions. The process by which residents and businesses seek to obtain licensing, permitting and other areas affected by the Executive Order will not change, and Aldermen will still retain input in the delivery of key city services.

“I am honored to stand with Mayor Lightfoot as her administration works to bring a fresh perspective to city government,” said Alderman Michele Smith, 43rd Ward. “While Aldermanic input is critical in representing the interests of communities, we are working to prevent politics from influencing departmental decisions. By signing this executive order, Mayor Lightfoot will ensure that all residents receive the same level of quality service from their government.”

The Mayor’s Office will work closely with the departments and the City Council to establish fair, objective criteria guiding all department decisions. By streamlining administrative practices, the Executive Order will make it easier to open new businesses and grow the economy, particularly in the City’s south and west sides.

“In neighborhoods across our city, Aldermen are committed to ensuring that our residents receive access to high-quality services. The Executive Order will streamline service delivery so that every neighborhood receives the same high-quality services as the next,” said Alderman Gilbert Villegas.  “Working together with the Mayor’s Office, we will continue to ensure that all levels of government are held accountable to the needs of all of our residents and that Aldermen continue to play a central role in developing policies that help grow all of our communities.”

The Executive Order was crafted in consultation with former and current aldermen, city departments, legal, and community stakeholders to ensure the Executive Order would function without disrupting City services. The Mayor’s Office will work with all affected departments to ensure a smooth transition and continuity for residents and businesses.

The Executive Order is the first piece in a comprehensive package to reform the Chicago government and delivers on Mayor Lightfoot’s commitment to put in place new policies to strengthen ethics, accountability and transparency throughout City government.  In the coming months, the new administration will seek to work with the City Council to bring forward new legislation that increases transparency in City zoning processes and to strengthen ethics beyond aldermanic prerogative.

Meet Tonantzin Carmona – Latinos 40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Negocios Now is proud to present Latinos 40 Under 40’s Class of 2018. We’d like to showcase the 40 between now and March 7th, that’ll be the day of the event to celebrate and recognize these forty individuals, some of Chicago’s finest Latino professionals.

#6- Tonantzin Carmona

City-wide policy champion

Age: 29

Title: Chief of Policy

Name of Organization: City of Chicago

Tonantzin Carmona serves as the City of Chicago’s Chief of Policy, within the office of the Clerk. In her current role, Tonantzin champions City Clerk, Anna Valencia’s citywide policies.

Under Tonantzin’s leadership, the Office of the City Clerk was able to launch the Chicago Municipal ID program, known as the CityKey, in under a year. Since starting the program, there have been more than 35,000 Chicago residents who have received their CityKey to date. Moreover, Chicago is also the first municipality within the State of Illinois to recognize a third gender option, non-binary, on an ID.

In addition to the CityKey program, Tonantzin is currently leading the efforts for Chicago Fines, Fees & Access Collaborative. This group is a combination of elected officials, government agencies, academic institutions, independent researchers, and community organizations—who evaluate the City’s fines, fees, and ticketing practices and proposing solutions to support Chicago’s working families.

Tonantzin also manages the Chicago Status of Women and Girls Working Group, which convenes 150 women from a variety of industries and backgrounds to develop recommendations that will make Chicago a more equitable place for women and girls.

Prior to her work at the Clerk’s Office, Tonantzin served as the Deputy Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. She was also the Director of the Office of New Americans and Deputy Policy Director at the Chicago Mayor’s Office.

Tonantzin earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Northwestern University. She was born and raised in Chicago’s Little Village and currently resides in Pilsen.


Words of Wisdom:

“Be open-minded and listen to diverse perspectives. Pass the mic so others, including the next generations, can speak and lead. Empower communities and provide space for them at decision-making tables.”