We appreciate that you have asked Mr. Markopoulos to attend a meeting with us, and that you are meeting with us and the CHA on February 2nd to bring more affordable housing to Uptown. We look forward to the result of that meeting.
This effort to increase affordable housing in Uptown could not come at a more critical time. Over 1400 new luxury units are planned for Uptown this year. They will force us all to pay more in rent and property taxes, drive many of us out of the neighborhood, and increase homelessness. We look forward to working with you on a constructive solution.
However, while we understand there are limits to an Alderman’s power, we don’t agree that simply asking is the extent of it. It’s well known that Aldermen in Chicago wield significant power over issues of development, including but not limited to permits, zoning, licensing, and code enforcement. Aldermanic Privilege, for instance, gives Aldermen almost unilateral control over zoning decisions1,2 and even influence over construction permits.3 With respect to the development at 4601 N Broadway, it was well within your power to wield zoning authority on behalf to the 150 constituents who were calling for you to do so during the Town Hall in April. However, rather than withholding a zoning change, you approved it.
Since October, over 600 ward constituents have expressed opposition to the current plan for 4601 N Broadway through petitions. We believe that dismissing the voices of hundreds of constituents warrants reconsideration of the zoning change he was given. There are repeated instances of Aldermen recommending the downzoning of lots. Although you did not exercise your power in the past to ensure this development represented the needs of these constituents, you still have the power to do so now. We propose that downzoning should be put on the agenda for the next 46th Ward Zoning & Development Committee.
Regarding your other points:
– Mr. Markopoulos has never met with us, choosing to pull out of a scheduled meeting in March 2017 at the last minute. Please see the attached message. The meeting we did have with their attorneys was a short one, in which they told us they didn’t have answers to our questions but would reach out to us later in the process. We never heard back.
– We did participate in the 46th Ward Zoning & Development Committee meeting you mentioned and opposed the project then. Our Committee representative at the time was unable to attend the meeting. A ONE Northside staffer, Ms. Tsou, contacted Ms. Feher to ask if someone could go in his place but never heard back. Ms. Tsou and other ONS members attended and and asked if we could have a vote, but we were denied. We spoke against this item nonetheless.
– Because of Aldermanic Privilege over zoning, Zoning Committee, Plan Commission, and Council overwhelmingly follow the decision of the local Alderman. Their decisions don’t reflect any distinct meaningful consensus of those bodies.
There is extensive evidence that the construction of high priced housing causes increases in property taxes and rents.8,9,10,11,12,13 You have approved zoning changes to allow over 1400 units of luxury housing to come to Uptown. The residents of the 46th Ward stand to face major increases in rents and property taxes. We are trying to give you the opportunity to prevent that from happening.
Members of ONE Northside
Want to get more involved with the campaign for a community benefits agreement in Uptown? Sign up here: https://goo.gl/forms/theP5ZsZ5EQktkBS2