Chicago’s plumbing code overhaul would expand the use of PVC pipes and allow for more gender neutral toilets

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to relax Chicago’s plumbing code to ease the financial burden on homeowners and businesses was submitted to a city council committee on Tuesday, paving the way for increased use of plastic pipes and building more “gender neutral toilets”.

At the request of the newly appointed Building Commissioner Matthew Beaudet, the Zoning Committee approved several changes.

One would allow increased use of PVC plastic drainage, waste and waste pipes, which are now limited to surface uses in residential buildings not exceeding three storeys.

The modifications would allow the use of PVC drainage pipes for the residential portion of buildings up to 60 feet or five stories, even if a portion of the building contains commercial space.

PVC pipes would also be permitted for residential underground use “if they are completely separated from commercial use.” But if they both use the same one, then that would be cast iron, ”Beaudet told the aldermen.

“These expanded options for residential use will be of tremendous benefit to homeowners looking to stay in their homes and for multi-family residences, especially affordable housing,” said the new commissioner.

Even with the changes, Chicago would retain its long-standing need for copper pipes for drinking water. Some cities allow the use of “other materials”, but after consulting with “industry groups” and the Department of Water Management, the town hall decided not to relax this part of the code.

Another change allows “small storefront businesses”, including restaurants with 30 or fewer people, to offer only one washroom for a single user.

“By reducing the floor space to be reserved for toilets, it increases the floor space that can be used for commercial activities. … In a small restaurant, there could be room for an additional two-seater table, ”Beaudet told the aldermen.

“This will help tremendously as businesses emerge from the pandemic and new businesses seek to open up in your trade corridors and neighborhoods.”

Gender-neutral bathrooms instead of separate bathrooms for men and women would free up floor space in restaurants and other businesses.
Associated press

In addition, the committee agreed to add provisions for gender-neutral toilets – with gender-neutral signs – which take up less space and therefore free up more floor space generating income for large restaurants and companies.

If, as expected, the entire Board approves the change, so-called “single-user washrooms” could be used to provide the required sanitation facilities, “either in combination with or instead of toilets for men and women with several stalls, ”said the commissioner.

The ordinance also authorizes “toilets for all genders with several private toilets and shared sinks,” Beaudet said. This option includes requirements to “ensure the security and privacy of all users,” he said.

“These changes help create a more usable and welcoming washroom not only for transgender people, but for everyone,” Beaudet said.

“For example, a parent who does not want to send their child alone to a bathroom of the opposite sex or an elderly person who needs the help of a caregiver of the opposite sex. ”

The changes would also clarify requirements for water safety, water-efficient plumbing fixtures and pool design as part of a series of updates aimed at “better aligning” the plumbing code with Chicago’s building code revamped two years ago.

Also on Tuesday, the zoning committee broadened the range of landowners who can take advantage of Lightfoot’s slow pace of a plan to replace lead service lines.

Last year, city council authorized a permit waiver of up to $ 3,100 for homeowners who voluntarily agree to replace their lead service lines. The problem is that only 20 owners have taken over the city from the mayor’s officer.

The expanded ordinance would offer the same break to churches and other nonprofits.

Muddy Waters House OK for landmark status

Aldermen also granted historic landmark designation to the Muddy Waters House, 4339 S. Lake Park Ave.

The two-apartment was built in 1891 and served as the residence of the blues legend from 1954 to 1973. Chandra Cooper, Waters’ great-granddaughter and current owner, applied for the designation.

Kandalyn Hahn of the Chicago Planning and Development Department said that “the hospitality extended to Chicago musicians and musicians who came to record in the city has made the house an unofficial center” for the Chicago blues community.

“It was close to the concentration of record distributors and independent record companies like Chess Records as well as South Side blues clubs, making it a natural gathering place for other blues musicians,” he said. Hahn declared to the aldermen.

“The musicians were welcomed at all hours. Not only food and drinks, but accommodation was also offered to touring musicians like Howlin ‘Wolf and Chuck Berry. Members of the group, including Otis Spann and James Cotton, lived in apartments on the second floor. Rehearsals took place in the basement and spilled outside into the backyard on a warm day. ”

Ald. Sophia King (4th), whose neighborhood includes the Muddy Waters Museum, said Waters was a “huge contributor” to blues and rock and roll.

“Having his particular home marked here in Chicago would not only be something that recognizes his contributions, but also recognizes the contribution of the blues to Chicago,” King said.

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