by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producerBy CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — The City Council on Wednesday approved a package of financial relief measures to help restaurants and other businesses survive the pandemic, by giving them a break on various city licenses and permits.

Under the ordinance unanimously approved by aldermen, every business license and public vehicle license that has expired or is set to expire between March 15, 2020, and June 15, 2021, will remain active until July 15, 2021. Those expiration dates have been extended three times already during the pandemic.

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Extending those license expiration dates again will make sure businesses already struggling to survive during the pandemic don’t need to worry about renewing their licenses during the challenging winter and spring months, according to Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno. It also will save them thousands of dollars in the coming months.

The city also will suspend all late fees for expired business licenses through the end of 2021.

In addition, approximately 1,000 sidewalk café permits currently scheduled to expire at the end of February 2021 would be extended until June 1, 2021, allowing sidewalk cafés to continue operating through the spring without having to renew their licenses. The city also will continue to reduce sidewalk café permit fees by 75%.

Approximately 450 restaurants and bars that were allowed to expand their sidewalk cafés into private parking lots, neighboring businesses’ sidewalks, or into streets closed to traffic will be allowed to continue their expanded outdoor dining areas through the end of 2021.

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Under the city’s expanded outdoor dining program, businesses were allowed to extend sidewalk cafés onto neighboring private property or into the street, so long as they were not blocking any neighbors’ doors or obstructing views from their windows. Sidewalk cafés also could not be expanded onto property owned by another retail food or liquor establishment.

“In view of the challenging economic climate, Chicago’s businesses need our support more than ever,” said Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), who chairs the City Council License Committee. “So I’m proud to have worked with you Mayor Lightfoot to provide an array of relief to the city’s businesses, and I look forward to continuing to do everything in our power to deliver support.”

In other business, the City Council also approved three settlements of lawsuits accusing Chicago Police of misconduct:

  • A $300,000 settlement with Dnigma Howard, who was 16 years old when police officers wrestled her down a flight of stairs at Marshall High School, and shocked her with a Taser, after she was told to leave the building because she had refused to put away her cell phone during a test. Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) was one of five aldermen who voted against the settlement, arguing Howard “deserves more than what we are giving and asking her to settle for.” Mayor Lori Lightfoot called Hadden’s argument unfair, noting Howard was represented by her own layers, and if she didn’t want to settle, she shouldn’t have.
  • A $295,000 settlement with siblings Jamell, Trezell, and Janell Island, who sued the city and several officers after police broke down the door of the wrong home while conducting a raid in June 2018.
  • A $162,500 settlement with Patrick Bowden, who accused police of falsely arresting him on a weapons charge and planting a gun. Bowden spent six months in jail and another year on electronic monitoring after his arrest before prosecutors dropped charges after a judge found a police officer’s testimony in the case was not credible.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff