Today’s Headlines for Tuesday, April 12

  • 45th Ward PB Ballot Include Bike and Pedestrian Projects (DNA)
  • Anti-Displacement Activists Blockaded Milwaukee to Protest New TODs (DNA)
  • Active Trans‘ Bikeways for All Campaign Promotes Equity for South & West Sides
  • Driver Who Killed DePaul Student in 2009 Hit-and-Run Gets 8 Years (Tribune)
  • Driver Runs Red, Crashes Into Green Door Tavern, Injuring 3 (DNA)
  • 2 Children Injured in Washington Heights Rollover Crash (Sun-Times)
  • Suspicious Package Near Federal Building Leads to Blue Line Delay (Sun-Times)
  • North Avenue Pedestrian Bridge Closed Until June 30 (Chicagoist)
  • Cartoons: Crain’s & Illinois Policy Institute Poo-Poo MPC’s Gas Tax Hike Proposal
  • Emanuel Kiboshes Proposal to Pedestrianize Streets Around Wrigley Field (DNA)
  • At What Point Does It Become Cheaper to Take a Cab Than Ride-Share (RedEye)
  • DNA: ‘L’ Riders Seat Preferences Vary According to the Train Line

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  • JacobEPeters

    Are they really “anti-displacement” if they’re protesting a project that only displaces a long time vacant parcel? In my opinion it is nice to see buildings w/ amenities going up to draw those willing to pay $1600 a month out of the market in which I am currently competing w/ them for less outrageously priced units without all those accoutrements & views.

  • Jeff Gio

    Cubs and associates are calling to clear the streets of automobiles in the name of safety…….. from terrorism. We almost got it, people

  • johnaustingreenfield

    The protesters definitely have the goal of preventing displacement. However, there’s debate over what the best way to do that and whether high-end TODs with ten percent affordable units do more harm or good for preventing current residents from being pushed out. Yes, building more units increases the housing supply, but it also encourages a shift to high-end retail, which encourages still more affluent people to move to the area, which may raise property values, taxes, and rents. It’s a complex question.

  • Displacement and predatory developers will keep happening as long as the city determines property taxation in the way they do.

    “Comparable” buildings are chosen that charge long-occupied, not-renovated, low-income housing as if it were recent luxury remodels or new construction. They charge you based on the POTENTIAL rental income of your lot area, not what you could get for the house if you sold it right that second, or even what you could get rental on the building as it exists.

    This is how my whole childhood neighborhood (North/Clybourn in the 80s) got emptied in less than ten years even when most residents owned their houses: it was impossible to pay the rocketing property taxes, and appealing to get them lowered to something reasonable took 8+ hours of standing in line downtown during banker’s hours.

  • JacobEPeters

    that shift was occurring far before the new developments, the new developments are a result, not a cause of this shift. Without them rents would be rising even faster. If I wasn’t at work I would cite the studies that I do not have at my fingertips at the moment.

  • Anne A

    Security cameras on Metra? Not needed. Metra should invest more in maintenance to reduce the abundance of mechanical breakdowns, switch and signal problems. That’s a preventable daily plague on our existence.

  • BlueFairlane

    In general, I agree with you, though I could see an argument to be made that decreasing a false perception of danger with the false sense of security cameras provide could have as much impact on suburbanite ridership as actually making the trains work better.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Not sure I agree with you. While Metra seems to have less of a crime issue than the CTA, partly due to the presence of conductors, there have been many reports of assaults on conductors by passengers this year. Having cams might serve as a deterrent and help prosecute offenders. The conductors certainly deserve to be able to do their jobs without worrying about being attacked by drunks.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    It’s certainly true that displacement was already an issue before the TODs were proposed, but one can make a convincing argument that an influx of high-end housing, retail, and affluent residents fuels further gentrification. Definitely share those studies if you find them.

  • ohsweetnothing

    I have my own (very strong) criticisms of the positions these activists in Logan Square have taken over the years, but those comments to that DNA Info story are even worse on the other end of the spectrum! Jesus.

  • ohsweetnothing

    My problem is that their anti-displacement goals seem to mesh a little too conveniently with anti-density goals. I would argue there are lots of factors contributing to gentrification/displacement in LS, but the blame seems to almost exclusively be placed on one building owner and a few choice developments in the neighborhood.

    Also the lack of self-awareness that some of them (I know a few personally!) have is concerning…like many of them have certainly contributed to the gentrification in the hood…and probably even displaced a working family to get the apartment they live in! But I digress…

  • JacobEPeters

    I remember them being shared widely on social media few months back, but I will probably have to wait until I am home to find any saved files of the studies.

  • JacobEPeters

    yeah, there are some people on there who seem to think money is the only form of free speech.

  • dr

    This is all true, but what’s frequently ignored is how hyper-local and interconnected these issues are. If (a big if), the induced demand is greater then the increased supply, there is still an unaddressed corollary: other neighborhoods. While top-of-the-market apartments *might* increase rents in their immediate vicinity on a short term basis, they certainly decrease rents at the city level, specifically in neighborhood substitutes.

    The most probabilistically effective action activists in Pilsen can take to decelerate gentrification in their own neighborhood is to advocate for development in Logan Square. A win for the activists in Logan Square might (but probably won’t) slow price increases there, but will unquestionably accelerate price increases in other neighborhoods vulnerable to gentrification.

    Activists in Logan Square should advocate for density in Wicker Park, and activists in Wicker Park (god rest their souls) should be advocating for density in Lincoln Park.

    I never hear this conversation occurring among boots-on-the-street activists, and rarely among the internet’s urban cognoscenti.

  • Anne A

    Point taken. Out of control drunks can be a problem, mostly on late night and weekend runs. I don’t want to see conductors or anyone else assaulted or injured.

    On my regular train, I see more serious drinking and unruly behavior by passengers who have long trips (1 hr or more on the train).

    On a daily basis, breakdowns and other delays affect a lot more people than assaults. In the past month, trains I’ve been on or trains ahead of mine have broken down over a dozen times, causing delays. I wonder if those delay situations factor into any of the assault incidents? Food for thought.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Thanks for pointing that out — weird how one-sided the DNA comments are.

  • I wish I knew why developers weren’t trying to build more modest apartment buildings in great profusion — at about the rent level most of the not-luxury-rehabbed Chicago courtyard buildings are at.

    I mean, I get that they want to absolutely maximize their profits, but geezy Pete, there’s a LOT of demand in the $800-1000/mo price range right now, and you could plunk one beside an El station (in a neighborhood without much street retail yet) and build almost zero parking for it and make bank.

    All new construction is chasing the luxury buck, and that market has limits (as well as being predatory). Most customers for luxury apartments were already LIVING in a luxury apartment somewhere around here, so their new purchase causes a vacancy and move downmarket elsewhere.

  • ohsweetnothing

    Yeah I’ve wondered and still do ask myself that question all the time. I’ve generally gotten these three responses when I ask:
    1) In the post-recession world with banks being tighter with lending, luxury real estate is still the safest bet and will be for the foreseeable future.

    2) Historically, almost all private new-construction has been higher end. The era of middle class/affordable private housing never really existed outside of the post-WWII GI bonuses…and even that was more about lending (and was accompanied by red lining/blockbusting/etc).

    3) Developers get the stick for chasing the highest return but sometimes they’re trying to turn a profit off of lane purchased at greatly increased values. In a gentrifying neighborhood, the person who bought a lot 30 years ago at $8 sq/ft can sell it at $30 sq/ft today and take off with little to no community blowback. Then it’s up to the developer who purchased to make $$ off of that $30 sq/ft price…even if it was the previous owner that really made off like a bandit.

    I’m sure I’m explaining at least part of this stuff wrong but I imagine those 3 explanations can explain at least some of the luxury housing glut….but also greed too, haha.

  • I favor a return to public housing. Housing that is for middle class as well and housing that has real integration into an vibrant surrounding urban environment with real availability of police resources.

    In the past public housing was undermined by people who did not believe in government. Not only Republicans but fellow travelers in the Democratic parties. Electing people like them to governments is like electing atheists as pope. Their goals, with a few significant exceptions, is to make government as bad as possible.

  • FPJ

    @ohsweetnothing:disqus and @openid-70167:disqus:
    The other issue is the city’s zoning ordinance. Yes, it is possible to get permission to build that mini-courtyard building, but you have to go through a costly and time-consuming variance process. If you just build a single family home, you can move quickly. So, you build a luxury SFH in order to get the job done quickly and to maximize your return on the job. The solution needed to get more affordable housing is for the city to fundamentally rework its zoning laws to be more permissive to density. Unfortunately, it is often the same people who are fighting displacement that also oppose density or zoning law changes that give incumbent residents (some level of) control over the development process (in the form of the alderman).

  • They could start with checking that each neighborhood’s current built buildings would be possible to build AGAIN under current zoning.

    My block, for example, has several six-unit buildings (I think they’re on double lots, so three residences per house lot), but all that’s legal to build is single-family.

    There are cases to be made for switching up the zoning versus what’s already built, but that should be the exception that has to be explained and specifically chosen, rather than “always built it less dense” being the assumed norm, entrenched because of decades of NIMBY property owners getting concessions out of aldermen.

  • FPJ

    The history of public housing I’ve read is a little more ambiguous than that it was destroyed by opponents of government. Rather, in an effort to have the greatest impact with the public housing resources that they had, authorities started imposing more and more strict income caps on units. This was done to make sure those most in need were able to find a space. However, it meant that these communities stopped being for the middle class or even the working class. Instead, they became centers of extreme poverty, all while suffering from serious under investment.

    In an effort to do good, public housing was effectively destroyed.

  • Destroyed by dropping budgets, from people downstate being unwilling to pay for actual useful public housing, yes.

    The history of Cabrini-Greene is illustrative. It was once a mixed-race development, mostly for WWII vets and their families, solid lower-working-class and a bit struggling. Then as people started viewing black people as universally poor and criminal and the white working class as universally virtuous and needing to be rescued from blacks, it segregated (so did all public housing in the city), and once it was majority black Springfield started utterly refusing to fund it adequately.

  • Jeff Gio

    This is why I advocate for more density in Brooklyn

  • JeffParkNIMBY

    Same problem in Jefferson Park. NIMBYs are why Jefferson Park has no commercial or residential development near the train station.

    You could easily build large residential and commercial buildings on the many vacant lots, but it has been fought for years by those who don’t want to see anything but single family homes.

    Jefferson Park can still actually be considered affordable for apartments, so anyone displaced from Logan could come on down the Blue Line.

    However, the problem is there are not enough units for rent. That will continue into the forseeable future.

    The good news is there are two large developments planned near the station with rents between 800-1200. So that’s actually pretty good for those looking for a nice place to live. Here’s hoping the NIMBYs don’t win.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    My first bike messenger dispatcher back in 1992 was a white Jewish guy who grew up in Cabrini, J.T. Lowenthal. He was quite a character.

  • I grew up at 1647 N Clybourn from 1980 to 1995. My mother was one of the last neighborhood-resident holdouts, arguing down her assessment and putting up with outright vandalism from developers who wanted to blockbust and knock down four or five lots at a time to put up condo buildings.

    The (functional, vibrant, low-crime, majority black) neighborhood I grew up in was murdered for profit.

    I know the difference between that and gradual movings-in of slightly more upscale residents, and I don’t call the latter gentrification if it’s done with good intentions and respect for the existing residents.

  • planetshwoop

    If the conductors don’t feel safe, it will be a priority for Metra. They tend to get their way.

  • The other thing about public housing (done right) is that it helps stabilize neighborhood by removing stock from constant turn-over that raises housing values during booms. Plus many gentrifiers require a minimum of their ilk before they will move in.

  • Shouldn’t all employees feel safe in their workplaces?

  • planetshwoop

    In theory, yes. However, there are other ways to achieve that goal than add safety cameras. Either way, my point was that Metra tends to put the needs of their conductors over customers in many instances.

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