CITY OF CHICAGO BUSINESS AFFAIRS & CONSUMER PROTECTION // Feb. 23, 2022
Effective March 1, 2022, sidewalk signs (e.g. A-frame, T-frame, or other temporary self-supporting type signs, placed on the public way) will be allowed in the City of Chicago by obtaining the proper City permit. Street-front businesses will now be able to use sidewalk signs to advertise their business safely and effectively from the sidewalk. The advertisement of services with sidewalk signs helps businesses draw in foot traffic from the street, providing an important boost to revenue customer traffic. The legalization of sidewalk signs is the final piece of Mayor Lightfoot’s Chi Biz Strong Initiative to go into effect. The legislative package has delivered financial relief and regulatory reform for Chicago’s businesses and workers since its passage in June 2021.
Last year, the Chicago City Council passed Mayor Lightfoot’s Chi Biz Strong Initiative, a bold legislative package that has provided financial relief to thousands of businesses, cut red tape across numerous City processes and delivered new protections for workers and consumers. The initiative jumpstarted Chicago’s recovery while addressing barriers to equitable economic growth that pre-date the pandemic. The legalization of sidewalk signs is the final piece of the Chi Biz Strong Initiative to go into effect.
The City permit application for sidewalk signs will be available on March 1, by visiting the City of Chicago’s Inspections, Permitting & Licensing web portal. A business will be allowed one sign per street address and an approved application will be provided a decal to display on a sidewalk sign. The signs must be no larger than 6 square feet in area per face and no greater than four feet in height. The signs can only contain information for goods and services provided on the premises and must display a permit decal issued by the City upon permit application approval. A permit application must include a plan or sketch of the proposed sidewalk sign with proposed dimensions and language. Proof of commercial general liability insurance will also be required.
A sidewalk sign permit will be valid for five years from the date of issuance and the permit fee will be $100 per year. The sidewalk sign cannot interfere with the flow of pedestrians, access to building entrances, pedestrian and traffic safety, or the aesthetic quality of the surrounding area. A sidewalk sign can only be displayed during the hours the business is open to the public and must be removed from the sidewalk when the business has closed for the day.
Sidewalks play an important role in urban life. They are a fundamental network of public open space offering pedestrian access, enhancing general public health, and providing a social experience. The legalization of sidewalk signs capitalizes on the opportunity to create inviting public spaces. Sidewalk signs offer several benefits to small business owners and communities. A sidewalk sign displaying products or services can attract new customers and increase sales and profitability for a business. Simple and straightforward signs catch the public’s attention and generate interest. Sidewalk signs bring character to communities by providing an enjoyable pedestrian experience and showcasing local creativity.