Chicago cops on lookout for repeat offenders

by Jacqueline Covey

At the Streeterville CAPS meeting, 6 p.m., Jan. 2 at Living Access, discussion focused on neighborhood justice activities and when to contact the police. 

Officer Al Robinson reported to residents that calls to service were up. Calls to service are the number of times “the phone rings” with a resident complaint. “That’s good,” he said.

Robinson said, upon a report of a crime, the area remains on police radar, even if the officer response didn’t result in an arrest. For the best results when reporting a crime, Robinson said to always provide as detailed a description as possible of the alleged criminal. 

“Don’t ever think that you’re wasting our time by calling us,” Robinson said. “Call us.” 

A resident pressed officers at the meeting about repeat offenders, and what can be done to end the cycle of crime. 

“You’ve done your job, involved in the court system and then, oopsie daisies, they’re out,” one resident said, expressing concern about the justice system. 

Robinson said the answer is to get involved. The court advocacy program operates in each policing district and follows the court cases and outcomes of incidents that occurred in each neighborhood which may be of interest to the community.

Residents are vetted and introduced to the court system as advocates for the community. They follow one of the 56 current cases in their district and provide a sense of not-in-my-backyard justice in the city. 

“We hope the judge sees this participation and gives a harsher sentence,” Robinson said.

The advocacy program is a response to crime and wrongdoing, as it’s meant to show unity in numbers. 

“(We’re) speaking out for the community that doesn’t have a voice because they’re not (in the courtroom),” Sgt. Christopher Schenk said. 

A resident who leads a neighborhood advocacy program said these types of activities make an impression on Chicago’s court system. The resident also called for neighborhood reforms and enforcement of a geographical restriction for repeat criminal offenders. 

The resident said they recognize “habitual characters” causing trouble in neighborhoods they do not live in.

Crash victim on mission for safer Michigan Avenue

by Mat Cohen

On Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 10 a.m., Phyllis Mitzen walked with a cane along E. Delaware Place and across Michigan Avenue along with her husband, Michael. 

She’s on a mission to make cross- walks safer. 

Six months ago at this crossing, Mitzen was knocked to the ground by a van which rolled on her leg. She spent 15 hours in surgery, 10 days in the hospital and three months in rehabilitation.

On Dec. 16 she walked with a cane to the corner of Michigan and Delaware, meeting with 20 people and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT)  official Samadi Malihe, to initiate a discussion about making the area safer. 

One of the women supporting the conversation was Janice Lewis. Her son was involved in an accident 10 years ago in Montgomery, Mich. When Lewis went to the hospital she didn’t recognize him.  He died Jan. 4, 2010.

“It changes lives,” she said. “So anything we can do, let’s do it.”

Since 2012 there has been an average of approximately 75 pedestrian deaths each year in Chicago, according to CDOT. The crossings along the Magnificent Mile between Oak Street and Chicago Avenue make the strip the third highest area for fatalities.

One of the main changes Mitzen is asking for is extended traffic lights to give slower walkers a chance to cross.

The group highlighted that slower people, mainly young kids and the elderly, have to start walking as soon as the light changes to have enough time to cross. But with busier intersections, cars try to get through the lights as late as they can, delaying pedestrians from crossing.

Mitzen serves as the president of Skyline Village Chicago and is a member of the Mayor’s Commission for Age Friendly Chicago. She’s also planning, along with State Representatives, a town hall meeting  in February at Ogden Elementary School to focus on pedestrian safety.

“I think they certainly heard what we  had to say,” she said. “And having (Alderman Brian Hopkins) come certainly  helped. We’re following up with a town hall meeting at the Ogden School and two state Reps. will come. We’ll ask for updates there.” 

She will also be asking for updates on the plan for Vision Zero, a strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities.

“It’s a worldwide initiative for an age friendly city,” Mitzen said. “Chicago is signed on and it’s not clear where they are with the plan.”

For more information on Vision Zero, visit chicago.gov  

Development reshaping city’s skyline

by Jacqueline Covey

Several skyscrapers marching upward in New Eastside and  Streeterville will soon add thou- sands of square feet of residential,  hospitality and retail space. Vista  Tower, sisters Cirrus Condominiums and Cascade Apartments,  Tribune Tower and an upcoming hotel and apartment tower in a  location dubbed Site O will trans- form downtown Chicago’s east- ern border. For local residents  living amidst the daily hum of construction, completion of these towers is just around the corner.

Vista Tower

363 E. Upper Wacker Drive

Expected to open in 2020, Vista Tower will be the third-largest  building in the city and the tallest designed by a woman—Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang. Another first for the city is a blow-through  on the 83rd floor that helps alleviate wind pressure. The building  topped out in April and currently interior work is being completed. The 101-story structure will house 400 condos and a luxury hotel.

Cascade and Cirrus

197 N. Harbor Drive and 225 N. Columbus Drive

These sisters of Lakeshore East are still in the first of two phases, as the dirt has barely settled since the dual-groundbreaking on Sept. 18. Ted Weldon, executive general manager for Lendlease Development in Chicago, said the first stage of construction  consists of Cirrus Condominiums and Cascade Apartments,  in addition to Cascade Park. Residents will also see work being done to the pedestrian and bicycle path that connects the development to Lake Michigan under Lake Shore Drive. There’s  been interest in Cirrus since pre- sales for condos began in spring,  Weldon said. Visit cirruscondos.com or call (312) 469-8090 for an appointment.

Tribune Tower

435 N. Michigan Ave

Unveiled April 2018, the redevelopment and new construction  project at Tribune Tower began  in 2016 after Golub & Company and the Los Angeles-based  CIM Group purchased the  Gothic landmark and surrounding buildings for $240 million.  The complex will be converted to 162 condos and update the stores below.

The team also hopes to build the second-largest building  in the city. At a Nov. 19 community meeting, Streeterville  Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) and Alderman Brendan Reilly offered details of the plan after residents raised concerns about traffic congestion. Crain’s reported developers have added a  passageway connecting the south and west sides of the building. The through road will mainly serve the hotel, with drop-off lanes and short-term parking.

Site O

Nestled between Aqua and 300 E. Randolph, parcel O is expected to see action in the coming months. Plans include a 33-story luxury apartment building and a 20-story tower that will host two hotels.  

Lakefront Trail can be hazardous during winter

by Elisa Shoenberger

While the Lakefront Trail is a popular route for commuting cyclists, snow and ice can make it hazardous during the winter. 

A 2011 Park District and Active Transportation Alliance report found nearly 30,000 people  used the trail daily during the summer. It’s used through the winter, although the number of cyclists drops off.

Dan Lowman has been using  the path to cycle to work down- town for more than a decade.  “The Park District does a  really good job of clearing and salting the Lakefront path,” he said. “The path is often in better shape than Lake Shore Drive and other roads.”

However, the conditions can become dangerous in the winter.

A few years ago, Lowman slipped on clear ice near Oak Street. He used his bicycle to anchor himself on the incline to avoid falling into Lake Michigan. A city worker in a tow truck saw the incident and threw down his tow line so Lowman could pull himself up.

Lowman actively uses the path but “If there’s been snow,  ice or big waves, I don’t bother. I don’t have the need to have that same incident again,” he said.

During adverse conditions, he gets off at Oak Street, takes the underpass near the Drake Hotel, and gets back on the Lakefront Trail at a safer place or takes Inner Lake Shore Drive.

“Chicago Park District crews remove snow and apply salt to the Lakefront Trail as needed, seven days a week,” a spokesperson for the Park District said. “Crews also work with the Office of Emergency Management Communications (OEMC) to close off sections of  the trail that are in close prox- imity to the lake edge when  conditions are icy.”

Colin Cameron, founder of Chicago Bike Law Firm, said that the city can be liable for damages for accidents on the Lakefront Trail since it is a designated bike trail.

There are informal alert systems that cyclists use such as #chilft (Chicago Lakefront Trail) on Twitter to inform each other about the path. The Park District recommends people check its website and follow the district on social media for updates. 

Starbucks Chicago Roastery a coffee wonderland

By Elisa Shoenberger

At 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 15th, Starbucks Chicago Roastery opened as a temple dedicated to all things coffee. Each facet, from the architecture to food offerings, is a celebration of the exalted coffee bean. 

It’s the “best experiential retail you’ll see anywhere,” guest speaker and Crate and Barrel founder Gordon Segal said. The new store honored the former location of the Crate and Barrel flagship that was designed to be an experience for its customers.

Visitors appear to be filled with wonder as they enter the largest Starbucks in the world. Eyes are drawn to the 56-foot golden cask filled with roasted coffee. It soars up several stories with “symphony piping” shooting roasted coffee to the many bars and coffee stations throughout the store. 

“If you want to come in and just look and grab your coffee, that’s fantastic. But if you want to dig down on coffee and learn everything, then we’re here for that too,” said Marc Wanless, Director of Global Operations, Roasteries at Starbucks. 

Throughout the day, employees roast 25 pound batches of coffee beans that are loaded into the giant cask. All coffee roasted, Wanless explained, was exclusive to the Roastery Chicago location.

By following the cask and symphony piping to the upper floors, visitors will find more than the average Starbucks cup of coffee. There is a holiday special, a three-layered “Pistachio bicerin” at Experiential Coffee Bar on the third floor and exclusive Chicago cocktails infused with Starbucks or Teavana flavors at the fourth-floor bar.

There’s even a station dedicated to whiskey barrel aged coffee where green coffee is put into Knob Creek whiskey barrels, Starbucks partner Shiami Ranasinghe said. 

And as a final nod to the process of coffee, the backstairs feature a five story mural of a coffee harvest by Chicago artist Eulojio Ortega.

While this Roastery is devoted to all aspects of coffee, it’s also a celebration of all things Chicago. The location uses local distilleries for the cocktails and works with Chicago-based chocolatier Uzma Sharif to pair her chocolates with coffee.  

There’s a love letter on the fourth floor of the building with the line: “This Roastery honors all of these years of beautiful coffee in this beautiful city. A shrine to coffee, and a celebration of all we have done and will do here together. Thank you, Chicago.”

GPAC members look forward to wintertime in Chicago

By Mat Cohen

Like the people of Chicago, the parks are gearing up for winter.

The preparations were discussed Oct. 16 at Maggie Daley Field House.

The Grant Park Advisory Council (GPAC) discussed revised by laws, an approach for more signage throughout the park, dog-friendly events and physical park updates.

The revised by laws were passed by unanimous vote. 

Maggie Daley Park Supervisor Jackie Guthrie said winter programming will be announced Nov. 18. The lower Hutchinson Field is being re-sodded and a few broken sprinklers will be ready for spring.

Guthrie added the ice rink at Maggie Daley Park this winter will be operated by Rink Management, a change from last year. Rink Management is one of the largest organizations operating ice rinks in the country.

GPAC President Leslie Recht assured meeting attendees the park is moving in the right direction for improvement of the dog-friendly area, including a possible dog agility event in spring. 

Recht said there are too many complaints of people getting confused while finding their way through the park.

“We need to try and work with everybody to get better signage throughout the park to help with people from Chicago and people who are visiting,” she said.

She said the GPAC wants to work with parking garages surrounding the area to incorporate a validation system. 

“It would be a benefit to everyone bringing more people into the park,” Recht said.

The next GPAC meeting will be Nov. 20 at Maggie Daley Field House. There will not be a meeting in December and dates for the 2020 meetings have not yet been announced.

Coyotes have adapted to big city living

By Elisa Shoenberger

There are 3,000 to 4,000 coyotes living in the Chicago area, according to Stanley Gehrt, professor at Ohio State University. And they can be found across city, even in Grant Park and Graceland Cemetery.

“They are finding ways to use all parts of the landscape in most parts of Chicago,” Dr. Gehrt said. Coyotes make use of green spaces, such as cemeteries and golf courses, but also may curl up in bushes during the day and people might not notice them. 

Their population began increasing in the 1990s, but numbers have leveled off in the past ten years, according to Gehrt.

Some residents could be concerned about a predator living in Chicago. But the number of problems has been low, only a few incidents per year, said Seth Magle, Director of the Urban Wildlife Institute at the Lincoln Park Zoo. “Ninety-nine percent of these coyotes are really good at not drawing attention,” he said.

Coyotes are good at finding places to avoid humans. Golf courses are great because they aren’t used much during the winter, Magle said. One coyote even had a den of pups in Soldier Field’s parking lot in 2014. The best time to see the animals is at sunset in cemeteries like Graceland or Rose Hill in Uptown. 

Occasionally, a coyote’s behaviour is unpredictable, like the coyote who walked into a cooler at a Quiznos downtown restaurant in 2007. But that’s unusual, Magle said, likely the result of some strange interactions between humans and the animal. When not hiding from humans, coyotes hunt rabbits and rodents, which is great for keeping those populations down.

The animals have made other interesting adaptations. Gehrt’s research found some coyotes look both ways before crossing the road, which is necessary in busy traffic areas. Through direct observation and cameras on the coyotes themselves, scientists have seen them observing traffic and adjusting their crossing strategies. 

The Urban Wildlife Institute has a scientist citizen project called Chicago Wildlife Watch in which people help scientists gather data on animal patterns. There are remote motion-sensitive cameras set up throughout the city. People can access the photos and tag animals in photos to help scientists gather data

Phone scammers steal millions annually, but better tech may offer help for consumers

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Three years ago Emily got a weird call.

Emily—not her real name—answered her cell phone and someone told her some recent computer work she’d had done had overbilled her. She was owed $299.

“But in order to (refund it), I had to give them access to my checking account, which is the stupidest thing you can do but they’re so good at this and they sound so sincere,” she said.

Instead, the refund set in motion a scam that lasted years and drained tens of thousands from Emily’s bank account. Once the scammers had her account, they deposited a refund almost $10,000 in excess of the refund amount, only to call back, apologize for the so-called mistake and then demand a wire transfer of $10,000 to make up for their error.

Of course, there was no error. The check they deposited was no good, but it showed up in Emily’s account before it was flagged, so as far as Emily could tell, someone really had mistakenly deposited thousands of dollars in her account.

Emily lives downtown and she’s retired, but phone scams can happen to anyone and they’re not rare. And even though Emily is one of the lucky ones—she ended up getting most of her money back—she is so embarrassed about what happened she only agreed to speak anonymously.

After the scammers called her to report their overpayment, they told her she needed to transfer the excess money from a specific Wells Fargo branch in Evanston.

“The most surprisingly thing was, I got the cab and I said I need to go to a Wells Fargo bank on Howard Street in Evanston,” she said. “We were driving and we weren’t very far and the cab driver said, ‘I know exactly where that bank is because I took another woman there about your age yesterday and I said, ‘Oh man, this is just a huge scam.’”

But, in case it wasn’t, she went anyway because scammers can be very persuasive.

Scammers can spin convincing stories but these days they’re also aided by telephone technology, a resource that once protected or at least warned consumers if something seemed fishy.

No longer.

Tom Kossow is the director of the Midwest region office of the Federal Trade Commission, the federal office in charge of protecting consumers. Kossow said scammers can imitate legitimate-sounding businesses or government offices and these scams bring in millions every year.

“We received 143,000 thousand complaints last year $55 million dollars in reported losses,” Kossow said.

With cell phones, everyone has access to caller ID, but caller ID is irrelevant in the age of VoIP systems or voice over internet protocol. VoIP systems are cheap or free to set up. The system routes a phone call through the Internet and in that way, the original phone number may be masked and a fake or even another legitimate phone number can be passed off as the call’s origin.

Kossow said one current popular scam involves Social Security imposter calls.

“Consumers are receiving calls from a spoofed number that shows it’s the Social Security Administration,” he said. “Victims will be told their Social Security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity.”

This is a variation on another classic scam, a call from the IRS requesting immediate payment. Scammers then request payment via gift card or money transfer or another anonymous payment system.

“The Social Security Administration is not going to call you with this sort of request,” Kossow said.

But scammers will and they have. Kossow said in the past 12 months his offices received 76,000 reports of this scam.

Kossow said if someone is the victim of a scam—or if someone knows a victim—they can call 1-877-FTC-HELP or 1-877-382-4357 or they can report the scam online at www.consumer.ftc.gov.

If the scammer is based in the United States, Kossow said consumers should also complain to the Better Business Bureau and the state’s attorney general’s office.

“Both of those organizations mediate complaints so they will contact the company and let them know they received a complaint about you,” Kossow said. “One thing we found out with people who operate frauds is, they know they are operating a fraud so they want to keep their complaints low, so they will often issue a refund at that point just so they can tell those organizations that they issued a refund.”

Finally, there is a bright spot for wary consumers. Some cell phone carriers are investing into call blocking or better caller ID technology to alert consumers for would-be scammers. Kossow said consumers can check with their phone provider to learn about those options and people can use Nomorobo, an app which alerts users to robo calls and works on Android and iPhone systems. This is one of the few outside apps the federal government does recommend, Kossow said.

“A few years ago the FTC issued a challenge to technologists and offered a reward to come up with technology that would block illegal robocalls and the winner of the challenge was Nomorobo and now that is generally available.”

Streeterville restaurant launches signature beer

(Published July 31, 2019)

The Signature Room, the restaurant located on the 95th floor of the former John Hancock Center, announced in July the launch of its first exclusive beer label, Top View Brew. The beer is a result of a partnership with suburban brewery Crystal Lake Brewing, currently offered exclusively at The Signature Room.

“We have been fans of Crystal Lake Brewing for quite some time—and their Beach Blonde has been a top seller for years—so partnering with them on a custom beer was a no-brainer,” said The Signature Room’s VP of Sales and Marketing, Tricia Bryant. “We hope Top View Brew will be a beverage that guests want to enjoy not just during the summer, but all year-round.

Top View Brew is a golden wheat ale with smooth malt sweetness, low bitterness and a bright lemon aroma at 4.5 percent alcohol by volume. The brew pairs well with salads, along with light fish and chicken dishes and can handle spicy foods and cut through heavier dishes. 

Fire station gets Ritz-Carlton heron statue

Streeterville’s Engine Co. 98, 202 E Chicago Ave., added an historic heron statue to their Chicago Fire Department Garden in June. 

The statue was donated after an extensive renovation by the Ritz-Carlton. The sculpture of two blue herons was previously part of the lobby fountain. Ritz-Carlton’s general manager Peter Simoncelli said the sculpture has been seen in wedding and anniversary photos dating back to 1975. The heron statue was removed during renovations to the Ritz-Carlton in 2017. 

New restaurant to open in Northwestern Memorial Hospital

The New York City-based Craveable Hospitality Group will open a new restaurant on the 18th floor of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, 251 E. Huron later this year.

GreenRiver formerly occupied the space, but closed in 2018.

Craveable declined to offer any details on the new venture, but as of mid-July, the group had posted hiring notices for a head chef and staff. 

According to the hiring notice, “The property will be 200 seats with an upscale American a la carte menu, plus a large catering kitchen and events space, on the outpatient pavilion of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.“

Mayor Lightfoot, Superintendent Johnson welcome nearly 300 new, promoted officers in Navy Pier ceremony   

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Department (CPD) Superintendent Eddie Johnson congratulated the newest class of 196 Police Officers and 98 newly promoted chiefs, deputy chiefs, commanders, lieutenants, sergeants and evidence technicians in a July 9 ceremony at Navy Pier. 

“Today, with their graduation or promotion, our officers are not only joining or renewing their commitment to a proud community of brothers and sisters, but they’re also fulfilling a sense of duty to the city we all love,” Lightfoot said. “As they embark or continue on this journey, I want all of Chicago’s officers to know that your city will be with you every step of the way.”

The 196 new police officers graduating includes 68 percent from minority backgrounds, with 44 percent identifying as Hispanic, 16 percent African-American and 8 percent Asian-American. In addition, 31 percent of graduates are female. 

Approximately 36 percent of the officers graduated from Chicago Public Schools and 13 percent are military veterans. 

Before graduating, police recruits spent six months at the police academy and they will now begin their one-year probationary period, which includes three months of training with a field training officer and district patrol functions.

Streeterville residents celebrate Cap Streeter anniversary

In July, dozens of Streeterville residents gathered at Streeterville Pizzeria and Tap for a Run A’Ground party to celebrate the anniversary of ‘Cap’ Streeter running aground in the area. 

On July 10, 1866, Captain George Streeter ran his boat aground in Lake Michigan, in what is now Streeterville. Over the next fear years, Streeter encouraged developers and residents to dump debris in the shallow water and eventually he developed the real estate. 

Gail Spreen, a realtor with Streeterville Properties, hosted the event, and she called July 10 a neighborhood holiday. Sculptor Dennis Downes, the artist behind the Streeter statue on Grand Avenue was on hand as was Alderman Brian Hopkins, who dressed as Streeter and channeled the neighborhood founder. 

“Many fine things happened on this day,” Hopkins said. “A future alderman’s mother was born on this day.”

Navy Pier breaks ground on first pier hotel 

Developers broke ground in mid-July on the first hotel on Navy Pier. ACRON, a real estate investment firm; Maverick Hotels & Restaurants, a hotel management and development company and Navy Pier are developing the project. 

The property, scheduled to open spring 2020, will operate under the exclusive Curio Collection by Hilton, which includes more than 50 independent hotels around the world.

The new hotel will be located adjacent to Festival Hall at the eastern end of the complex. The hotel will offer 222 guest rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase views of the city’s famed skyline, Lake Michigan and the Pier. The hotel will also offer a first floor restaurant, a fitness center and a 30,000-square-foot rooftop restaurant, bar and event space.

Officials said the hotel development has already led to 600 construction jobs and is expected to create 300 permanent positions.

A Dallas Ferris wheel operator aims to break Navy Pier ride record

According to the Dallas Observer, the operator of a Dallas-based Ferris wheel aims to break the world record for longest Ferris wheel ride. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the record for the longest ride is currently held by Clinton Shepherd, a park operations manager at Navy Pier, who, in 2014, rode the Pier’s Ferris wheel for two days, eight minutes and 25 seconds. 

Now, Ferris Wheelers Backyard and BBQ in Dallas is seeking applications for anyone willing to take a longer ride. 

“We’ve put some feelers out there to see if we could get the public interested in breaking the record,” said Phillip Schanbaum, in the Dallas Observer. Schanbaum is the co-owner of Ferris Wheelers Backyard and BBQ. “We want to give ourselves a bit of a cushion on the time, so we’re going for 72 hours. We need to do a little bit more research on some of the stipulations for Guinness, but to our knowledge, there is a five-minute break per hour.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Navy Pier, Payal Patel, wished the Dallas operater all the best. 

“While Clinton Shepherd is no longer an employee at Navy Pier, we are still very proud of the world record he set on the Pier’s behalf in 2014,” Patel said. “Navy Pier extends its best wishes to the individual in Dallas seeking to set a new record for the longest ride on an amusement park attraction.”

In June the Pier got its second Guiness Book of World Records entry after its rooftop deck, Offshore opened. The size of a football field, the deck is—so far—the biggest deck in the world. 

Chicago’s Art Cows returned home in July

Two decades after Chicago’s Cows on Parade exhibit launched the international Cow Parade craze in the United States, the city’s decorative fiberglass cows were rounded up for July and set on display at Jane M. Byrne Plaza, next to the Chicago Water Tower. 

The cows were decorated by area artists and auctioned off for charity, and the parade set off a trend of copycat cities across the United States. Today, the cows are owned by various businesses and art collectors across the region, but for the 20th anniversary of the project, the Magnificent Mile Association reached out to a handful of owners who agreed to let the cows out on loan for a month as part of the “Cows Come Home” seasonal art project.  Adam Skaf, a spokesperson for the association, said August marks the 150th anniversary of the Chicago Water Tower, so pedestrians can expect to discover more than 25 five-foot models of the tower along Michigan Avenue all month long. 

Navigating drone laws may be tricky for operators in Chicago

(Published July 31, 2019)
By Elisa Shoenberger, Staff writer

It may be tempting to fly a drone downtown whether to get a bird’s eye view on the Lollapalooza crowds or to get a unique shot of the skyline, it may be impossible to do so legally. 

Chicago’s laws allow drone operators to fly their craft with a permit, but according to afficionados, getting a permit is near impossible thanks to confusing, byzantine rules. 

“All drones are restricted unless given a permit for flying,” said Anthony Guglielmi, Chief Communications Officer of Chicago Police Department. 

In addition to a permit, operators have to get permission from the property owner and in the case of Grant Park, that would be the Chicago Parks District. Without that permission and without a permit, operators face citations. 

Jeffrey Antonelli is a drone enthusiast and also a lawyer, and he believes the city’s laws wouldn’t stand up in court. Antonelli points out that since the Federal Aviation Administration regulates air space and not the city, Chicago’s air regulations would probably be thrown out if someone challenged them in court. Nevertheless, Antonelli said he doesn’t fly drones in the city.

Alan Perlman, CEO of UAV Coach, a drone training company, said the FAA classified Grant Park airspace as Class G, meaning it is uncontrolled airspace, so recreational drone pilots should be able to fly there under federal law. 

Even so, getting a permit is hard. 

Antonelli said some people have tried getting a permit from the park district and while he’s heard some success stories, he’s been unable to get one. 

“The city doesn’t have a uniform answer,” Antonelli said. 

A spokesperson for the parks district could not explain how to get a permit. 

The FAA mandates that people cannot fly drones over people or cars for safety concerns and pilots must be able to see their drone at all times and they cannot fly higher than 400 feet.

Perlman said people should first learn how to use their drone. 

“You are bringing a flying lawnmower into the air. It’s really important to have intimate understanding of how the aircraft works.” 

1 2 3 6