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Criminalizing Business in Chicago

| June 14, 2012

PJTV recently released an editorial video on the climate for economic development in Chicago—and it’s not a pretty picture.

The Pribaz brothers found this out the hard way when they opened their coffee shop and quickly faced an overwhelming array of regulations placed on their business by both the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago.

From heating and air conditioning to licenses and permits, the city puts onerous regulations on businesses which can be very difficult – and expensive – for small business owners to understand, let alone comply with.

You can see their video here. One of Chicago’s regulations cited is their annual permitting process to operate a sidewalk café. The 25 page application must be filled out and submitted each year. Here’s a little sampling of the regulations:

  • “At least 50% of the boundary must be covered with live plants.”
  • “Sidewalk café boundaries must be constructed so that they are free of objects that protrude more than 4 inches from the outer edge of the fence or barricade between 27 and 80 inches above the ground unless a corresponding barrier is positioned under the protruding object 27 inches above the ground or lower to provide for detection by canes used by people who are blind or have visual impairments.”

The fines for a failure to conform to the 25 page regulation can run up to $500 per day, and can also include a six month prison term for one who “interferes…in the enforcement of this article.”

Overly burdensome regulations with criminal penalties, such as these, are part of the overcriminalization phenomenon currently putting a damper on economic development.

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RIGHT ON CRIME is a national campaign to promote successful, conservative solutions on American criminal justice policy—reforming the system to ensure public safety, shrink government, and save taxpayers money. By sharing research and policy ideas and mobilizing strong conservative voices, we work to raise awareness of the growing support for effective reforms within the conservative movement. We are transforming the debate on criminal justice in America.

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