CHICAGO (CBS) — The City Council has approved a partial ban on plastic bags in Chicago, but delayed action on proposed regulations for ridesharing services.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the council voted 36-10 to ban large chain stores from providing plastic bags to customers, starting next summer.
Under the ordinance, chain stores with more than 10,000-square-feet of space would have to stop providing plastic bags to customers by Aug. 1, 2015. Smaller chain stores would have until Aug. 1, 2016 to stop using the bags.
Restaurants and small independent retailers – stores which have a size of less than 10,000 square feet, and which are not part of a chain of three or more shops – would be exempt from the ban.
Retailers would instead have to provide reusable bags and/or recyclable paper bags to their customers. They could be fined $300 to $500 per offense for violating the ban.
“The plastic bag that now roams this city costs so little, yet it happens to do the most significant damage to the environment, not to mention our pocketbook,” Ald. George Cardenas (12th) said.
But Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said the added cost of providing customers more expensive paper bags or reusable bags would be just another excuse for grocery chains not to open stores in Chicago, or to close existing stores in areas that already have too few groceries, like her South Side ward.
“I’m watching my community go to hell in a hand basket, while communities that are rich in resources spend time debating plastic bags,” she said.
Meantime, aldermen delayed a vote to approve first-ever regulations for ride-sharing services such as Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar.
Right now, ride-share companies are not required to have any special business or chauffeur’s licenses, like taxi companies. Customers use internet-based applications to summon drivers who use their personal cars to carry passengers.
The Emanuel administration has proposed creating a new transportation network provider license for ride-share businesses. Services whose drivers average more than 20 hours each per week would face stiffer regulations, including a requirement to get chauffeur’s licenses.
Regardless of how often drivers are on the road, all ride-share firms would have to carry insurance, and perform regular inspections of their driver’s vehicles.
The city would be allowed to cap “surge pricing” in times of peak demand. Currently, ride-share prices spike as much as tenfold under surge pricing conditions, such as during rush hour, or when major conventions are in town.
Unlike for the taxi industry, the city would not set ride-share rates.
Aldermen also outlawed new storage facilities for petroleum coke, a byproduct of the oil refining process.