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Chicago to resume residential street sweeping next week

Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John Tully said temporary no-parking signs will be posted, but residents’ cars will not be ticketed or towed.

A street sweeper cleans a residential street.
A street sweeper cleans a residential street.
Department of Streets and Sanitation

The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation is gearing up to resume scheduled residential street sweeping next week — complete with no-parking signs — for the first time since the coronavirus stay-at-home order was imposed in March.

“We’re gonna try to notify residents without the enforcement end of it to start sweeping along these curb lines because a lot of leaves are still out there from the fall,” Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John Tully told the Chicago Sun-Times.

What’s the incentive to move your car if there’s no threat of getting a ticket or being towed?

“To get a clean street,” Tully said.

“We’re still not gonna force people to go out. There’s still some people who are very worried about doing that. ... We’ve had some significant rain where some of the leaves are blocking the sewer. … Any significant rainfall, you get occasional flooding.”

Aldermen welcomed the decision to resume street sweeping without the enforcement hammer.

“That’s exactly what I told them to do. I said, ‘Just don’t ticket. Don’t tow. Post and, if they move their cars, good. If they don’t, just keep it moving,’” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), one of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s most outspoken City Council critics.

“It’s gonna cut down on clogged sewers. The calls that you get for debris because, when it rains, the leaves and everything are around all the sewers,” Beale said.

“People will still move their cars because people want their streets swept. They want their streets cleaned.”

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said people were afraid to come out of their homes during the early days and weeks of the pandemic.

“If you’re just moving your car to the other side of the street or a block away for a couple of hours, I don’t know how difficult it’s gonna be because everybody is home to be able to do it. And if they keep their distance, they should be able to complete the task,” Waguespack said.

Waguespack said he’s more concerned about the “cleanliness aspect and trying to clean off sewers ... before the rainy season starts so we don’t have flooding.”

In late March, Tully told the Sun-Times that sweeping residential streets would be virtually impossible when the city was ticketing and towing only for emergencies.

When aldermen pushed back, Streets and Sanitation said it would put sweepers in all 50 wards but not for “scheduled sweeping.”

Without posting no-parking signs, Waguespack said sweeping residential streets was hit and miss — mostly miss.

“You might get a handful of spots in the middle of the block. But the only areas that were getting cleaned were corners and some of the bigger arterials where people might not live,” Waguespack said.

Also Tuesday, First Deputy Transportation Commissioner Tom Carney sent a letter to all 50 aldermen notifying them there will be no block party permits issued through May 31.

The decision follows CDC recommendations and guidance from city and state health officials to avoid nonessential gatherings and any gatherings larger than 10 people, Carney said.

“Plans for the summer programming and events, including block parties, remain under discussion,” Carney’s letter to aldermen stated.