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CHICAGO (AP) — Months after the installation by Donald Trump of 20-foot-tall letters spelling out his last name on the side of one of the city's tallest skyscrapers, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing an ordinance that would make sure nobody else can do the same.
In the latest chapter of what turned into an international news story about the war of words between Emanuel and the brash billionaire developer, the mayor's office on Wednesday released a draft of an ordinance that would limit the size of signs, what they look like and where they can go.
The ordinance, scheduled to be introduced to the City Council next month, is hardly a surprise. In June, it was becoming clear there was nothing the city could do legally to remove the sign Emanuel called "tasteless." It had received approval, first from former Mayor Richard M. Daley and again by Emanuel's administration. The mayor said then that he wanted to make sure "a situation like this doesn't emerge in the future."
But the ordinance, in dramatically limiting the size and placement of signs, also assures the letters on the 96-story Trump International Hotel & Tower will continue to stand out. Trump's letters are five times as large as what the ordinance would allow.
Not only would future signs be smaller, but the city would require developers to put signs just below their buildings' rooflines. They wouldn't be allowed where Trump has his: about 200 feet above ground, extremely visible in one of the city's most crowded areas.
All of that is fine with Trump.
"I'm all in favor of the ordinance. I think it's great," Trump said Wednesday. "If nobody else puts a sign on the Chicago River I'd be very happy."
Under the provisions, the downtown area along the Chicago River that the ordinance says is being turned into a "unique world-class recreation area," would have similar protections. The largest buildings could have signs no bigger than 550 square feet — the signs would be smaller for shorter buildings. And no buildings in the area would be allowed to put up flashing lights, neon signs, rooftop signs or banners.
"As we transform the Chicago River into Chicago's next great waterfront, we want to ensure that the riverfront is protected from signage that negatively impacts the visual environment," the mayor said in a news release announcing the ordinance.
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