Brac­ing for wave of evic­tions, City Coun­cil OKs ‘Fair No­tice’ or­di­nance to pro­tect renters

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRAN SPIELMAN, CITY HALL REPORTER fspiel­man@sun­times.com | @fspiel­man

Brac­ing for “mass evic­tions,” a di­vided Chicago City Coun­cil agreed Wed­nes­day to give renters more no­tice — up to 120 days — be­fore land­lords ter­mi­nate their leases or raise their rents.

The fi­nal vote was 35 to 14. Pro­po­nents called the pro­tec­tions the “bare min­i­mum” for renters who have lost jobs or had pay­checks cut dur­ing the pan­demic.

Op­po­nents warned 120 days’ no­tice was too long and puts too much pres­sure on the own­ers of small res­i­den­tial build­ings.

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th), an out­spo­ken critic of Mayor Lori Light­foot, asked for a roll call vote, only to stop him­self and ask to speak.

Light­foot could have cut him off and pro­ceeded with the vote, but she didn’t.

“Thank you, Madame Pres­i­dent. I ap­pre­ci­ate that — truly,” the al­der­man said.

Manda­tory pro­tec­tions put “an­other un­due bur­den on small-unit own­ers” who are the “back­bone of Chicago neigh­bor­hoods,” Lopez ar­gued.

“We will have a fore­clo­sure cri­sis on these units if we con­tinue with poli­cies like this that do not in­cor­po­rate some sort of re­lief for those small-unit build­ing own­ers,” Lopez said.

Ald. Nick Sposato (38th) noted it “takes for­ever” to get rid of a “bad ten­ant.”

“Peo­ple are not gonna want to own apart­ment build­ings in this city any­more. We’re mak­ing it too tough on ’em,” Sposato said.

Ald. Car­los Ramirez-Rosa (35th), dean of the So­cial­ist Cau­cus, coun­tered that the mayor’s or­di­nance is a “good start,” but only a start.

“Other cities have moved for­ward on much stronger ten­ant pro­tec­tions. I hope that we, as a city, will also do that. We need to move for­ward on just cause for evic­tion,” he said.

Ten­ants have had just 30 days no­tice be­fore rent in­creases or non­re­newal of leases. It’s “nearly im­pos­si­ble to land on your feet well” in that time, Hous­ing Com­mis­sioner Marisa No­vara has said.

Now, ten­ants who have lived in their apart­ments at least six months have 60 days to find new hous­ing when land­lords ei­ther in­crease rent, refuse to re­new leases or ter­mi­nate mul­ti­year or month-to-month leases. Renters in their units more than three years get 120 days.

The Fair No­tice Or­di­nance wasn’t the only hous­ing con­tro­versy aired Wed­nes­day.

When Ald. By­ron Sig­cho-Lopez (25th) ar­gued Light­foot’s plan to ex­tend the life of a his­toric land­mark dis­trict in Pilsen would make the gen­tri­fy­ing neigh­bor­hood even less af­ford­able, the mayor pushed back.

“I take great um­brage to the sug­ges­tion that you were blind­sided or any­body in your com­mu­nity was, given the enor­mous amount of time that [Plan­ning and De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sioner Mau­rice] Cox … spent with you. You may not be happy. But to sug­gest that some­how this was sprung on you is sim­ply not cor­rect.”

Wed­nes­day’s ac­tion-packed meet­ing was the last be­fore the tra­di­tional Au­gust re­cess.

Be­fore ad­journ­ing, al­der­men also:

◆ Im­posed new safety re­quire­ments on se­nior build­ings, in­clud­ing food and medicine de­liv­ery and manda­tory ten­ant checks.

◆ Rat­i­fied an ar­bi­tra­tor’s rul­ing with police su­per­vi­sors that ends the 40-year ban on anony­mous com­plaints and will lay the ground­work for sim­i­lar dis­ci­plinary changes with the larger and more mil­i­tant Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Police.

◆ Strength­ened re­quire­ments in the rare in­stances when de­vel­op­ers seek to use im­plo­sion to de­mol­ish build­ings to pre­vent a re­peat of the April 11 de­ba­cle at a shut­tered coal­fired power plant in Lit­tle Vil­lage.

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