City of Chicago to Revise Occupancy Regulations
In an effort to better regulate the issuance of occupancy capacity signs, the City of Chicago is in the process of revising these requirements. A capacity sign indicates the lawful number of authorized persons allowed in a place of assembly. Currently, any space of assembly with areas greater than 250 square feet as well as any business serving liquor requires an occupancy placard. Restaurants which are classified as mercantile use and do not serve liquor do not have an occupancy placard requirement.
The proposed rules and regulations for capacity signs includes a much more detailed list of building and space uses in which the placard will be required. Included within this change is a stipulation that any restaurant with a seating area of 750 square feet or greater will also require an occupancy capacity card. Due to the number of restaurants within the City that meet this criteria, if and when this new ordinance takes affect, the Department of Buildings could expect to see an overwhelming number of applications submitted by Restaurant owners and managers.
If a capacity sign is not obtained where required, the City could issue a violation, which would include fees and a court appearance. Whether or not the City will actively seek out these restaurants to issue violations – as they have done in the past with Driveway and Grant of Privilege permits remains to be seen. But it may not be a bad idea to start looking into getting an architect on board…