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Chicagoans urged to check condition of porches
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May 26, 2009

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
Chicagoans were warned today to check their shaky porches and avoid overloading them — nearly six years after the Lincoln Park porch collapse that killed 13 young partygoers.

Although City Hall is no longer conducting a blitzkrieg of inspections, Buildings Commissioner Richard Monocchio urged residents to protect themselves by visually inspecting porches and using them responsibly.

“Most porches should be used, only for entering and exiting buildings, not as gathering places,” the city said in a press release.

Monocchio specifically urged residents to check for the following dangerous porch conditions: excessive movement when walked upon; wobbly handrails and guardrails; split or rotting wood or signs of water damage; loose, missing or rusting hardware or bolts; loose or missing anchors or missing, damaged or loose support beams.

If any of those conditions are identified, owners are required to make repairs. Renters are urged to stop using the porch, report the problem to the building owner or manager and call 311 to request an inspection if prompt repairs are not made.

Thirteen young people died shortly after midnight on June 29, 2003, when a three-story porch pancaked to the ground at 713 W. Wrightwood. Five annual inspections did not flag the allegedly unpermitted, oversized porch that collapsed on that fateful night.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported last year that the task force of inspectors created to search for shaky porches had been “folded back” into the Building Department’s Conservation Bureau.

City Hall now issues pre-approved porch designs and inspects roughly 5,000 porches each year as part of regular building inspections.

Over the years, stricter code requirements imposed after the Lincoln Park porch collapse have reduced the number of complaints while increasing porch repairs and reconstruction.

The number of complaints has dropped from 2,433 in 2006 to 1,775 in 2008 and 333 so far this year.

The number of permits issued for new or improved porches has climbed from 2,066 two years ago to 3,190 in 2007, 3,400 last year and 837 already this year.

Very good video. Many leaders fro Chicago Unions showed up and said nothing. Thanks for being a hero Pat.