Quinn urges City Council to tighten reins on small digital signs

SHARE Quinn urges City Council to tighten reins on small digital signs

Gov. Pat Quinn urged the City Council on Monday to revisit a belated crackdown on small digital signs that allowed a company partially owned by his Republican opponent to blast Quinn with more obtrusive signs closer to homes than the new rules allow.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week that Bruce Rauner is one of five owners of Digital Greensigns and that the company has provided Rauner’s campaign for governor with more than $215,000 worth of free advertising.

The newspaper also reported that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration issued permits for 23 signs now being used to blast Quinn and praise Rauner before the City Council got around to approving a crackdown on small digital signs that, aldermen complained, were destroying the quality of life in Chicago neighborhoods.

None of Rauner’s signs would be allowed under the new rules. That’s because they’re bigger, brighter and closer to homes than the crackdown allows. Rauner’s signs are also allowed to stay on 24hoursadayinstead of being turned off between midnight and 5 a.m. to avoid shining into peoples’ homes and disturbing their sleep.

At a news conference Monday to tout the expansion of ride-sharing giant, Uber, Quinn was asked how he feels about being blasted by small digital signs that are no longer allowed in Chicago.

“Maybe the City Council ought to take another look at it,” Quinn said.

“I don’t know all the details…as far as the regulation of signs. But, if there’s something that causes harm to consumers — if they’re too bright and they’re shining into peoples’ homes — local aldermen ought to pay attention to that.”

Quinn was careful not to criticize Emanuel, a former business associate, education reform ally, friend and vacation companion of Rauner; the mayorhas publicly endorsed Quinn.

The mayor’s office has emphatically denied that City Hall deliberately stalled the crackdown on digital signs demanded by aldermen across the city to help Rauner, who helped the mayor make more than $16 million in an investment banking deal more than a decade ago.

Mayoral spokesman Adam Collins has noted that the Emanuel administration slapped a moratorium on new digital-sign permits in July2013 that remained in place until late April of this year, when the City Council approved the new rules.

“When these signs started going up, the city took note, and we began working with aldermen to review our digital-sign regulations and draft a major regulatory rewrite to prevent the signs from proliferating further,” Collins said.

“The new regulations significantly darken digital signs, push them away from residences and dramatically limit them in size…. Not only were the moratorium and subsequent new regulations put in place to prevent Digital Greensigns, among other companies, from erecting more of these obtrusive signs. The city has been taking legal action against Digital Greensigns specifically for several of their signs over the past few months.”

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