THE LOOP — Chicagoans may have more street dining options this summer if the City Council slashes the cost of licenses required to sell everything from hot dogs and tamales to crepes and corn.
The changes, put forward by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as part of a larger overhaul of how the city licenses businesses, won the endorsement of two City Council committees Wednesday. It heads to the full Council for a vote Feb. 22. If approved, it would take effect July 1.
Originally proposed by 26th Ward Ald. Robert Maldonado, the cost of a two-year business license would drop to $100 from $350. In addition, food cart operators would no longer have to get an additional business license to use a shared kitchen, which comes with a $75 fee.
Food carts were illegal in Chicago until the City Council moved in 2015 to legalize the estimated 1,500 vendors pushing food carts selling tamales, ice cream, corn and other treats and snacks on city streets.
The mayor also proposed loosening the restrictions on home-based businesses to allow operators to hire employees to work at another location and business-related items to be stored in a garage.
The home-based business license costs $125 a year, and daily fines range from $250 to $500 per day.
The changes are designed to "provide greater flexibility to more than 2,200 currently licensed home-based businesses," according to a summary given to aldermen.