From Paid Sick Days to Wrigley's Plaza: What City Council Did Wednesday | NBC Chicago
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From Paid Sick Days to Wrigley's Plaza: What City Council Did Wednesday

“Compromise has worked for Chicago today. This is an example of working together,” Mayor Emanuel said Wednesday after City Council approved a variety of measures

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    Chicago City Council approved a variety of measures Wednesday, including regulations on the house-sharing and ride-sharing industries and new rules for the Wrigley Field plaza.

    Aldermen also approved paid sick leave for about 460,000 private sector employees and a ban on public places' denying access to bathrooms on the basis of gender identity.

    During a press conference following the City Council session, Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised aldermen, saying “we’re not Springfield.”

    “Compromise has worked for Chicago today,” Emanuel said. “This is an example of working together."

    Wednesday’s session almost ended early after Ald. Scott Waguespack tried to delay the ride-sharing vote. In response, Mayor Rahm Emanuel moved to end the meeting and call aldermen back to session on Friday, at which point Waguespack withdrew his motion.

    Here’s a breakdown of the ordinances approved by City Council Wednesday:

    Paid Sick Leave

    Roughly 460,000 employees will now be granted paid sick days. In Chicago. 40 percent of private sector workers had no form of paid sick leave.

    Under the plan, workers can earn up to five sick days every twelve months. Half of that time can be carried over to the next year if it goes unused. New employees can use sick days after a six month probationary period.

    Additionally, sick leave benefits that are negotiated as part of a collective bargaining agreement are exempt.

    Public Bathroom Discrimination

    Under the plan, public places can’t deny access to their bathrooms on the basis of gender identity. The measure looks to protect residents from discrimination and ensure gender equality. 

    “The City of Chicago celebrates diversity and has a long and proud history of being a welcoming place for LGBT residents,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Chicago stands in solidarity with the LGBT community here and across the country, and today’s action will ensure that we are a place of inclusion and tolerance that allows people from all groups - no matter their gender or who they love - to participate free of discrimination.”

    The measure serves as the gender equality amendment to Chicago's Human Rights Ordinance.

    On Wednesday, the council also approved various community and land development and confirmed Erin Keane as City Comptroller.

    Wrigley Field Plaza

    Under the plan, beer and wine would be sold until one hour after day games end and until the end of night games. If there is a rain delay, sales would be cut off by 11p.m.

    Additionally, the Cubs would be allowed to hold up to 12 other events in the plaza, including five large concerts. Alcohol sales would be cut off one hour before the end of events, which would run no later than 10 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

    The plaza would only be open to ticket holders for games and events and would be required to close 45 minutes after the end of a game or event.

    To be considerate of parents and children during the school year, there is a provision in the legislation that prohibits the team from holding concerts at the stadium from Labor Day to June 15. Other events between Sunday and Thursday during that time are required to end by 9 p.m.

    Ald. Tom Tunney, who first introduced an ordinance for the plaza in 2013, unveiled the updated plan earlier this month.

    The Cubs called some rules unfair, namely the caveat that only allows ticketed patrons in the plaza during games. The team originally envisioned a plaza that could possibly available 365 days a year.

    On Tuesday, Tunney said the revised plan includes input from the mayor, the neighborhood and the team.

    Ride-Sharing

    Drivers for Uber and Lyft will now be required to to get a transportation network driver license, in order to even the playing field with the taxi industry. Companies will also be required to continue administering criminal background checks and drivers will need to receive training developed by the rideshare industry, either in person or online.

    The issue of fingerprinting, a major point of contention for Uber and Lyft, was also tabled for the time being. Instead, a six-month study on fingerprinting drivers for background checks for rideshare companies was approved Wednesday.

    Rideshare companies will also be given an additional six months to devise a plan for expanding accessibility for the disabled.

    Also gone are drug tests and physical exams for drivers, which were part of the previous plan. Last week, Uber and Lyft threatened to leave Chicago after the more restrictive rideshare ordinance was unanimously approved by a joint City Council committee.

    House-Sharing

    Under the approved plan, individual voting precincts can ban house-sharing through petition, according to the Chicago Tribune. A complete petition requires signatures from 25 percent of voters in a given area. Residents who oppose such a move can also get signatures to overturn the original petition.

    Buildings of five units can only list one unit at a time. Larger buildings will be able to rent six units at a time or 25 percent of the building, whichever is less.

    Additionally, renters will also be required to pay a $60 charge for each address listed on Airbnb, which will be used to enforce the new rules.

    The company will also be required to pay the city $10,000 annually for a license to operate.

    Mayor Emanuel’s 4 percent surcharge on each rental to fund services for the city’s homeless is also included in the ordinance.

    Airbnb waged a strong campaign to fight against new regulations, organizing renters and buying ads to sway opinion. Despite their initial opposition, the company praised the ordinance Wednesday.

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