People breaking into abandoned buildings in Chicago would face stiffer fines under a proposal headed to the City Council.
Aldermen and Fire Department officials have sought ways to give more teeth to city ordinances governing abandoned buildings, which often become havens for crime and dangerous fires.
Ald. James Balcer's plan seeks to deter homeless people, drug addicts, prostitutes, gang members and others from breaking into the buildings by increasing to $200 the fines they could face. The Zoning Committee approved the plan today, and it will head to the full council next Thursday.
The proposal is the latest response to the December 2010 deaths of two Chicago firefighters when a roof collapsed as they searched an abandoned laundry business in the 1700 block of East 75th Street. The building, where homeless people were known to seek shelter, had caught fire. Another 17 firefighters were hurt.
Balcer, 11th, also shepherded through the City Council an ordinance that allows owners of vacant buildings to be jailed for up to six months if their property violates city standards and someone suffers a severe injury or death as a result.