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.
Network 49 is a resident led community organization representing more than 750 residents and focused on improving education, safety, and community development in the 49th ward. We have considered in detail the application submitted by KEYS to CPS Office of Innovation to open a new charter school in Rogers Park. After carefully considering the application in its entirety and based on our close involvement with the existing neighborhood schools, Network 49 OPPOSES granting a new charter to KEYS for the proposed KEYS Nineveh charter school.
We encourage KEYS and its supporters to work with our existing CPS neighborhood schools to improve their programming and address deficiencies KEYS may have identified, if any. Our reasons are outlined below. You can also
Network 49 Position on KEYS Charter School Application (99 downloads)
of the statement we have provided to CPS Office of Innovation and Incubation and to Alderman Joe Moore.
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.
At a well-attended community meeting called to consider two large transit-oriented developments, 175 people, including a large contingent from ISKCON Krishna temple located next to 1710 W Lunt, raised numerous questions about how much benefit the community stands to get. The proposed developments require a substantial zoning change and relief from the city’s current parking requirements. After residents voiced numerous concerns and asked developer David Gasman to commit to specific changes, Network 49’s Brian White asked:
“Will you commit to sitting down with the community to negotiate a written and binding community benefits agreement?”
Gasman’s response: “yes.”
An unscientific scan of the audience suggests the community is not at all ready to say “go”, for a number of reasons, so negotiating specific benefits is likely to help win support.
The main opposition expressed is over the lack of parking and the anticipated negative impact on the temple. Other strong objections were raised about the lack of affordable housing units, the size and number of units, and the likely precedent that the developments might set for transit-oriented development in the community. Many also asked why such dense TOD projects were being proposed now, while Clark Street was in the middle of a planning process.
Network 49 passed out informational handouts and Community Benefits Scorecards to help residents evaluate the projects. From the scorecards we collected, people are supportive of the projects as presented.
“Parking not provided is a big issue, when people visit those units or businesses in the area.”
“David didn’t present convincing arguments with any of the questions/concerns raised. Looks like he has no solid plans.”
“At this point none of the vital points for the community are considered.”
“I am against this project.”
Some of things residents asked for in their comments:
Set aside more than the minimum number of units (10%) as affordable units
Preserve the historic character and key elements of the buildings, including the facades
Add more units that can accommodate families
Add or secure more off-street parking for building residents and guests
Commit to contract with women and minority owned businesses
Commitment to add green/open space and green elements, like a green roof or solar panels
Commit to give back to the community
Commit not to demolish either building, even if the proposals do not get approved
Commit to work with members of the Krishna temple to adjust the 1710 W Lunt development proposal to reduce the potential for conflict between the temple and residents likely to live at 1710
Given the numerous concerns raised and questions presented, for which firm answers and commitments have NOT been made, Network 49 asked Alderman Joe Moore, who holds the ultimate decision:
“Would he convene an additional community meeting for residents to hear about Gasman’s modifications to the developments before any decision was made?”
“Would be allow residents to attend/observe any follow-up meeting of the 49th Ward Land Use Advisory Committee (LUAC), where the revised proposals might be considered?”
Despite his oft-touted commitment to participatory decision-making, Alderman Moore emphatically REFUSED TO ALLOW THE PUBLIC TO ATTEND OR WITNESS THE LUAC MEETINGS. He demurred on a second community meeting as well, which many residents interpreted as a sign that he has already made up his mind. That remains to be seen.
Network 49 will convene a meeting of interested groups, including Preservation Chicago and ISKCON, to draft a Community Benefits Agreement to present to David Gasman.
We will also ask Alderman Moore to hold off on any decision until the community and Gasman have had time to develop the agreement.
We are writing on behalf of the Housing and Community Development Committee of Network 49. Our committee is comprised of residents of the 49th ward who are interested in promoting balanced development and improving and expanding the process for resident participation in zoning and land use decisions. We are part of the larger Network 49 membership organization, with which I believe you are familiar. (www.network49.net).
Our committee met Saturday June 10 to review the announced redevelopment of 1710 W Lunt and 1730 W Greenleaf. We learned of these developments on June 8 through an email announcement from your office. We drafted a set of questions, which we will bring to the community meeting on Wednesday June 14 to share (See “Re 1710 and 1730.docx”)
N49 Questions re 1710 W Lunt and 1730 W Greenleaf - 6-13-17 (168 downloads)
. We thought it would be constructive to share questions about the projects to have share with David Gasman ahead of time. Would you please pass along these questions to Dave? We do not have his contact information, but would be happy to connect to Dave directly or to meet with him and your staff to discuss our questions at a future date.
We also had questions for you about the process of these community review meetings, which our members though it would be constructive to address to you separately. These are also attached (See “Re 1710 and 1730 – Qs for Alderman.docx”) (included in the previous download).
In sharing these questions to you and Dave Gasman, we acknowledge that the information we have access to may not be the complete picture. Our views of the project may evolve or new questions may arise, once we have a chance to hear the complete presentation. Given the short notice of the June 14 meeting, it was the best we could do. We hope this is a process of dialogue and discussion, not a one-shot opportunity to weigh in.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact myself or Thom Clark, co-Chair of the Housing and Community Development Committee. We look forward to the meeting tomorrow and to learning about these projects.
Brian White and Thom Clark
Co-Chairs, Housing and Community Development Committee of Network 49
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!