In 2008 we saw a spike in the number of grant of privileges required for public way obstructions in Chicago. Although it’s hard to point to an exact date of the change; clearly the city has changed its enforcement policy.
Traditionally enforcement focused on new obstructions over the public way, e.g., signs, planters, building projections, canopies, sidewalk cafes, or new foundations that incrementally cross into the public way. It’s not that existing obstructions were necessarily grandfathered, but rather that the city just wasn’t actively citing existing non-conforming buildings.
That policy seemed to change in 2008. We began seeing existing items such as fire escapes, tree grates, sidewalk vaults, etc., receiving citations requiring that a Grant of Privilege be processed.
Although it’s not a burdensome submittal, as municipal submittals go, the fact that City Council approval is required does make it a lengthy process.
I recommend a proactive approach. Submit prior to being cited and you can avoid a fine, and by submitting prior to being cited you are in a stronger position with roving inspectors, or an administrative hearing. It also enhances your credibility with inspectors. No building owner/manager wants to have a building, which is viewed as non-compliant. With respect to Grants of Privilege, it can truly be said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Posted by Mike Foley