This ordinance, which has been up for discussion for the past three months by the City Council, would only affect certain communities in Chicago. Max Bever, community outreach director for the 44th Ward, feels that the Lakeview community would be unaffected by this ordinance.
“Honestly we don’t have a lot of locations in the 44th Ward where security fences are 8 feet high and not adjacent to residential buildings,” said Bever. “It’s probably a lot more for businesses in areas farther on the West Side and some on the South Side as well.”
Heather Way, executive director of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, hasn’t heard any uproar from the local businesses she works with, but feels that electric fences in Lakeview would be an unnecessary addition to the community.
“It’s so densely populated, you know, it would have to go around some kind of lot and we have minimal opportunity for that here, so I think it would be more appropriate for less dense areas,” said Way.
A Lakeview business owner for over 20 years, Bob Robertspeck, has had a few Christmas trees stolen from the parking lot he owns on Roscoe and Sheffield every holiday season. However, feeling that his monetary loss is minimal and the cost of having an electric fence is probably more expensive, he feels it would better serve larger businesses such as banks and retail stores.
“I think they should have electric fences because there are too many burglars,” said Robertspeck.
A Lakeview resident for the past 18 years, Cori Smith has had a mixed opinion on the issue. Feeling that she has seen crime increase within the neighborhood in the last few years, she thinks that non-lethal electric fences could be useful in areas where crime keeps occurring, but only at nighttime when the businesses are closed.
“I believe everybody has the right to protect their own property, but I think that it could seriously hurt somebody. What if they accidentally fall into the fence?” said Smith.
By comparison, a Taser delivers a 50,000-volt jolt 21 times a second, although there have never been any reported fatalities from electric fences, like there has been with Tasers. Currently, electric fences are legal in Chicago, but only to secure railroad facilities. The ordinance did not come up for vote in the last City Council meeting.