Network 49 joined representatives of other Campbell lawsuit plaintiff organizations to announce a proposed consent agreement regarding reforms to the Chicago Police Department. The reforms aim to curb police violence and improve police accountability. Read a summary of the proposed agreement here
Consent-Decree.pdf (41 downloads)
Network 49 members joined ~80 of their neighbors at a community meeting to learn more about a proposed development at 1531 W Estes. The developer wants to tear down a 2-story brick building and build 5 town homes, which will sell for ~$450,000 each. The developer needs significant relief from current zoning regulations on density and property set-backs. He also needs to cut into the curb to add a driveway for onsite parking. Such relief is a private benefit granted at public expense; if not for the relief, the project does not happen.
Residents had 6 days’ notice of the meeting. Approximately 50 residents turned out. The meeting lasted at least 3 hours and residents left with as many questions as when the meeting started. And while no vote of residents was taken, residents’ questions suggest the development team was the only one really in favor of the project.
During the meeting, the property owner said a fire made the property uninhabitable. Because of a health issue in his family, the owner failed to file a fire damage claim and stated he now is unable to cover the cost of rehabbing the property. Instead, he wants to tear it down and build the townhomes, including one that he will live in himself. There are 2 brick 2-flats on the market for $565-575,000. The first question is can the owner restore the property and sell it as a 2-flat? We think the answer is yes.
Be that as it may be, 5 townhomes sold in Rogers Park with prices of $200-255,000 in the last 3 months. The developer would not share what he estimates it will cost to build, nor the size of his development fee or profit he stands to make. We also do not know if the property owner will pay for the townhome he intends to live in or is he getting that new unit in consideration for contributing his property to the project.
The project sets a clear precedent for future teardowns. To wit, if the owner of 1531 is able to tear down his home and built 5 expensive new ones, what prevents a future request from another owner who is not happy with the profit he might get from selling his single-family home? Network 49 co-chair Katy Hogan spoke to the real risk that we open the floodgates to more teardowns, spot zoning decisions and gentrification, something residents have fought against for years. “It’s not just this project we are concerned about; it’s the ones that will surely come after it, if this gets approved.”
Network 49 shared its Community Benefits Scorecard. Briefly: no affordable housing, no accessible housing, no commitment to green design, no commitment to local hiring or M/WBE participation. To summarize, the developer wants permission to build an oversized new development that will bring him significant new income and offers nothing to the community in return. The developer also made clear; he’s not doing any community benefits agreements.
We write on behalf of the members of Network 49 as co-chairs of its Housing & Community Development Committee. We received notice concerning the proposed redevelopment of 1531 W Estes on Thursday, February 22 via email. We could not find record of this having been presented to the 49th Ward Land Use Advisory Committee, since the committee’s schedules and agendas are not published. We note that the co-developer Rich Aronson continues to serve on that committee and we ask whether he recused himself from any deliberations the committee may have held.
Network 49 favors a balanced development approach and encourages that any granting of private benefit to a developer demonstrate community benefit offsets. Examples might include a commitment to affordable or accessible housing, expansion of green space, or commitments to W/MBE contracting and employment.
In the case of 1531 W Estes, the various zoning variances requested represent a public benefit of considerable value. If not but for the variances, the development could not be built. We believe a clear community benefit should be provided by the developer, before you approve granting requested variances/relief/etc. In the materials you have shared, we see no evidence that the developer is providing a benefit to the community. The community is being asked to accept a major zoning change to accommodate a private owner’s personal business decision. This is a bad precedent, especially given the size of the project. Additional concerns:
Network 49 held its first regular membership meeting on January 24 and the March 2018 primary was top of mind. Our organization wants to help residents make informed political decisions and work for progressive representation, so we invited candidates to speak and then conducted our first straw poll of the current campaign cycle. We intend to use the result to guide our upcoming political activism.
Local favorite State Representative Kelly Cassidy (14th) was the top vote getter on Network 49’s straw ballot for the Illinois March primary, conducted during its regular membership meeting at Willye White Park, 1610 West Howard, Chicago, Wednesday evening. She was the unanimous choice. (36 ballots were cast and some voters did not identify a candidate in all races).
Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss attracted the second highest votes with 31 of 35 votes cast. JB Pritzker tallied 3 votes, with the other candidates getting 0 votes.
In the Cook County Assessor race, Democratic challenger Fritz Kaegi – who appeared at the meeting after fellow Assessor candidate Andrea Raila – collected nearly all the votes cast. Kaegi and Raila are hoping to unseat incumbent Joe Berrios, who is also the Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party.
Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle also polled strongly, getting all but 1 vote (which went to challenger Bob Fioretti), while Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas was favored over challenger Peter Gariepy more than 3-1, with quite a few voters selecting “None.”
Long-time incumbent Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin (13th) was favored with about 63% of the vote over newcomer Bushra Amiwala, who received almost 40%. Despite the loss, Amiwala was viewed positively as someone to watch for future races and many members spoke enthusiastically in her favor.
The most spirited race was between the eight candidates seeking to replace the retiring Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The results were much tighter and members spoke in favor of their preferred candidates prior to the voting. In the end, Aaron Goldstein edged Sharon Fairley 17-12, with 3 other candidates dividing 4 votes.
Network 49 will share the results of the straw poll to its members to help inform their decisions in the March 2018 primary.
At its January 2018 meeting, Network 49 will welcome nominations to and then elect members to serve on a new Steering Committee AND make endorsements for the March 2018 Illinois Gubernatorial Primary, as well as other races that will be decided in March.
All of these activities are part of our work to create an independent, progressive, and resident-led organization for promoting progressive policies and elected leadership.
CPS’s Office of Innovation and Incubation held a hearing on Monday, August 21 to consider CMSA’s request for an additional 100 student seats. After hearing from so many opponents to charter school expansion, including dozens from Network 49, they decided NOT to recommend approval of the request to the Board of Education. In other words, we won.
Victories against school privatization are hard fought and don’t come often. It’s why we are pleased to share the news that charter school Chicago Math and Science Academy’s request to expand by 100 seats next year was NOT recommended by CPS or even included as an agenda item at the most recent August 28 Board of Education meeting.
Network 49 and its allies have been clear that we do not want any charter school expansion in Rogers Park – no new schools, new campus buildings, and no additional seats. We organized a ballot referendum in 2016 and 63% of voters sided with us. So did State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, State Senator Heather Steans, and US Rep. Jan Schakowsky. Only Alderman Joe Moore has consistently been in favor of new charters coming to our neighborhood and expansion of existing charters. Despite our community’s clear and unequivocal position, but perhaps feeling that the Alderman would swing CPS in their favor, CMSA advanced a proposal to expand by 100 seats.
As we did before and as we will continue to do, our resident volunteer leaders mobilized to stop this expansion. Dozens of our members joined in sending letters to CPS and hundreds acted on Facebook to support our campaign, which received over 8,000 views. If you were one of the people who stepped up, Thank you for YOUR advocacy!
Charter schools divert students and resources from neighborhood schools. Study after study shows that charters educate no better than neighborhood schools, while being less transparent and less welcoming of special needs students and English language learners. These are NOT the schools we need in Rogers Park’s diverse community! Our local neighborhood schools are much improved and are growing, with Sullivan HS and Senn HS in Edgewater boosting enrollment by 100 students apiece. (By comparison, CMSA reported to the Chicago Board of Education they are 40 students short of filling their current capacity!).
Network 49 believes that all our public schools should offer high quality educational opportunities that meet the diverse needs of students in our community. We are opposed to privatization schemes like vouchers and charter schools and we will continue to fight for our schools. We are glad that you are with us in this fight.
Have you – or any other 49th Ward/Rogers Park community resident you know – been physically abused or subjected to racist acts by the police, particularly in the last couple of years?
In June, Network 49 was invited and agreed to join in a class action lawsuit as a plaintiff with several other Chicago community organizations and individuals who are concerned about the need for improved Chicago police accountability and the many issues related to that. The City of Chicago, the Police Department, and individual officers are defendants in the case. The aims of the lawsuit are to get a federal judge to:
Enjoin the Chicago Police Department (CPD) from use of excessive use of force
Enjoin CPD from use of force in a racially discriminatory manner
Appoint a CPD Monitoring Team that reflects the diversity of Chicago
Oversee a transformation in CPD policies and practices related to use of force, accountability and supervision, discriminatory policing, data and transparency, and support services for survivors of police violence and misconduct.
Along with Network 49, the other class action lawsuit plaintiffs include Black Lives Matter Chicago, Blocks Together, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Urban League, Justice For Families, Black Lives Matter, Chicago NAACP, Women’s All Points Bulletin, and 411 Movement For Pierre Loury. Attorney Sheila Bedi and other lawyers affiliated with the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center of Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law are representing us.
Network 49 is looking for any neighbors who fit this description and would be willing to share their stories to help support our organization’s participation in a class action lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department. Declarations from residents in the 49th Ward/Rogers Park community served by Network 49 will be very important in surviving upcoming moves by Chicago’s law department to get the lawsuit dismissed.
Please ask any residents described above to call Network Community Safety Task Force Chair Michael Harrington at 773-971-1215 or email Michael.
Residents comprising Network 49’s Housing & Community Development want balanced development in our community. By balanced development, we mean that in general, development should balance benefits received by the community with private benefits for the developer. It is an effort to create win-wins.
An example is when a developer builds a development to provide affordable housing (community benefit) and gets a developer fee or future rents (private benefit) in exchange. It might also be where a private business comes into the community and agrees to hire local residents as part of its store roll-out plan. The store may not need to make such a commitment, but in doing so it gets a private benefit (new employees), but also creates a community benefit by hiring local employees. That’s a win-win
We also think it is appropriate to consider:
how a development project integrates into the community
whether it is consistent with community plans
how it impacts traffic and congestion
whether it enhances or undermines the local business climate, and
overall – does it improve quality of life in our community.
We are not at all anti-development. We simply believe that development should be a rising tide that lifts all boats. We also recognize the importance of preserving the racial and economic diversity of our community through housing and community development. This was something more than 85% of our members ranked as important or very important in our recent community survey.
N49 developed a scorecard to assist residents evaluate developments in terms of the exchange of public and private benefits. We intend this to be used concerning development projects where a public benefit is being requested.
A public benefit requested by the developer might be a zoning change, financial subsidy, street closing or alteration, or other benefit that the developer would not otherwise receive. A public benefit requested by the community might be a commitment to hire locally, pay living wages, set aside space in the development for community uses or a similar benefit demanded by the community through an open and deliberative process.
We will be evaluating this tool and our overall progress in the weeks and months ahead. We hope that it will help educate ourselves about what kinds of things we can ask for when developers want to build in our community.
At our May general membership meeting, we were pleased to share the results of our recent member survey. By way of background, we sent an 8-question survey to our members and asked them to evaluate some of our recent priorities and share ideas for what is concerning them right now. We also asked for their feedback on whether our organization should start collecting dues and if so, what amount.
We found that our members affirmed in large part what we are currently focused on:
“Maintaining Rogers Park’s economic and racial diversity in housing and community development” came in first, with a weighted average of 4.56/5.0;
“Helping progressive candidates win elections” was next, at 4.52/5.0;
“Making Rogers Park a safe and just community for all” was a close third at 4.50/5.0;
“Protecting our Public, Neighborhood Schools” was right next, at 4.46/5.0.
So where do we take up these concerns?
Housing & Community Development is tackling the first one.
Safe Community Task Force is working on the third, along with our partners at Protect RP.
The Education Committee has been tackling the fourth and is an issue with which Network 49 is strongly identified, thanks to the success of the Charter Freeze referendum on Nov. 9, 2017. Their ongoing leadership at work in Sanctuary schools, the fight for elected school board and more provide a model to the rest of our committee work.
The Politics Committee takes on the largest issue of members’ discontent: voter dissatisfaction with current politicians, from the Ward to the National level.
Frankly, our respondents are irate about a whole host of issues that involve political change. Network 49 will be engaging in voter education through a planned Community Canvass, beginning in June (look for details on Network 49 facebook and Web pages), ongoing Forums addressing the key issues, Voter Registration, and continued organizing with our neighbors.
Some respondents want Network 49 to field candidates, but our focus is on organizing our members to resist, expose and fight hypocrisy, lack of transparency, and elected officials simply not doing their jobs for the people wherever and whenever we can. But we are not just about resisting. We are working to affirm our values and help our members engage constructively in pushing for what we want, not just what we oppose.
We welcome people interested in running for elected office to share their interests to us and to speak before our members. If the survey is any indication, they will be well-received!
On March 14 a letter, Network 49 delivered a letter to Alderman Joe Moore, requesting a response by March 19. It stated in part:
“We are writing with great concern regarding two proposals for local charter expansion that have been recently submitted to CPS… Our community needs to know where you stand on these proposals. The timetable for action on these proposals is short and means that a response from you is urgent.”
Last November, 2/3 of RP voters made it clear that they are against any charter expansion in our neighborhood. In identical letters to Network 49, LSC members, and residents who had pressed him for an answer about the CMSA expansion request, Joe Moore stated
“Though advisory referenda inform my decision making, I do not consider them controlling.”