Saturday, April 07, 2007

Crash pad crackdown near Chicago Midway

by B. N. Sullivan

signAirline commuters take note: Chicago is cracking down on crash pads in the area around Midway Airport.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that a Southwest Side resident anonymously tipped off authorities about the location of nearly two dozen crash pads in the area.
Forty inspections were conducted over the last three months, resulting in 31 violations for illegally operating as "transitional shelters."

Four openly acknowledged the violations and shut the crash pads down. Twelve offered no response. Their cases will be forwarded to the city's Law Department for prosecution in Circuit Court -- with fines as high as $1,000 a day.

Five others were snared for illegal conversions -- residential units illegally carved into the attic or basement of single family homes. All of the crash pads were located within a mile of Midway Airport.

"Flights are arriving at all hours. You have people coming and going at all hours. It could be a fire risk," said Zoning Administrator Patty Scudiero. "In one case, we saw four sets of bunk beds. That's eight people, in addition to the owner. The next night, it was another eight."
Ah yes, the glamorous life of pilots and flight attendants -- sleeping in bunk beds, eight to a room! Scandalous! (You'll pardon my sarcasm.)

From a quick scan of the news headlines, it looks like a Sun-Times reporter broke this story. The Associated Press picked it up, and now other newspapers and TV stations in Illinois are churning out their versions.

The Chicago Tribune focused on the safety issue, which apparently is at the heart of the Zoning Authority's concern:
Bunk beds in basements with one exit. Twenty people living in one residence. Attics illegally converted into living space.

These are the part-time living conditions of some pilots and flight attendants based out of Midway Airport.
The Chicago Tribune article also quotes Patty Scudiero, the Zoning Administrator. "They could be legalized and they could be safe," she said. "It is tricky, but it is a safety issue for us."

The Chicago Tribune said that most of the inspected homes were on South Kolmar and Kilbourn Avenues and 55th Street, and that the city doesn't plan to target the neighborhoods around O'Hare International Airport unless it receive complaints.

Don't hold your breath: Now that there's all of this hubbub about crash pads around Midway, something tells me it's only a matter of time before some "anonymous tipster" near O'Hare squawks about all of the crash pads there, too.

[Photo Source]