It is no longer cool to own a crack house in Chicago. On Oct. 6, the Chicago City Council approved a new ordinance that would hold property owners more accountable when their buildings require more than the usual level of police and emergency service in response to chronic illegal activity.

The new ordinance penalizes property owners who fail to take reasonable steps to eliminate or substantially reduce chronic illegal activity and makes them liable for the costs incurred by the city in connection with nuisance abatement at their properties. "A small percentage of property owners habitually allow their property to be used for illegal activity or fail to take reasonable steps to prevent chronic illegal activity from occurring on their premises, which affects the quality of life for neighbors, decreases the value of surrounding properties and places an undue burden on the city's police and emergency service resources," Mayor Richard Daley said in a statement.

A property with chronic illegal activity is defined by the ordinance as one that experiences three or more calls for police service on three different days within any 90-day period, in which the police investigate illegal activity on the premises, or take enforcement action against any tenant or person associated with the premises for illegal activity occurring within one block or 1,000 feet of the property. The ordinance exempts cases in which the property owner or their agent calls for emergency service and domestic violence incidents. The illegal activity could include disorderly conduct, gang and narcotics activity, weapons offenses and excessive noise complaints.

The ordinance establishes penalties from $500 to $1,000 for each offense once a building has been declared a public nuisance, and penalties of $200 to $500 for any other violation of the ordinance. In addition, the property owner will be liable to the city for all costs incurred as a result of responding to the calls for service.

Download the city's statement on its new chronic illegal activity ordinance.