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Aldermen OK licenses for pushcart vendors

After operating illegally for decades, Chicago’s 2,000 pushcart vendors will now be licensed.

The Chicago City Council on Thursday approved a sanctioning measure drafted by pushcart vendors and their legal advocates and championed by Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th).

“Legalizing food carts will have a powerful, long-term impact on the city of Chicago,” Maldonado said.

Citing the Illinois Policy Institute, Maldonado said lifting the ban could generate more than 6,000 new jobs and as much as $8.5 million in local sales tax revenue.

The new regulations mean vendors will sell their tasty tacos, hot dogs, tamales and tortas without the fear of getting ticketed or even arrested.

Danny Trejo sells tortas, a type of sandwich, in North Side neighborhoods.

He was thrilled Thursday.

“It’s incredible,” said Trejo, 29. “We are so happy.”

Trejo said he expects business to increase because clients will be more comfortable dealing with a licensed business.

“It’s going to be more legit,” he said.

Maldonado said the vendors, who provide affordable food throughout the city, will now have a chance to build their businesses.

“Every entrepreneur in this great city deserves the the opportunity to be a productive citizen,” said Maldonado, who buys tamales every Sunday after church.

The ordinance is expected to go into effect in mid-November, according to the mayor’s office.

The City Council also:

• Passed a measure that requires accommodations at airports for breastfeeding mothers.

• Appointed former ComEd vice president John T. Hooker as the new chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority Board.

• Approved three separate bond ordinances, including up to $2 billion of senior lien general airport revenue bonds. Of that, $1.7 billion is allocated to refunding outstanding debt and $300 million is for new projects at O’Hare International Airport. It’s the largest borrowing deal in the city’s history.

Contributing: Fran Spielman