LOGAN SQUARE — Earlier this month Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) said he wanted to bring a 2017 proposed ordinance aimed at curbing gentrification along The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail back from the dead.
La Spata said to expect significant changes. One of the main criticisms of the original draft, and perhaps the reason it never advanced, was the steep fees it would have imposed on developers — anywhere from $300,000 to $650,000. La Spata said he was going to lower those fees and streamline other elements.
On Wednesday, the proposed ordinance was resurrected, but not as La Spata promised.
The proposed ordinance was reintroduced in City Council, but with Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) as the lead sponsor and with no changes.
Wednesday’s ordinance is identical to that of the original 2017 ordinance. It imposes the same demolition fees and “deconversion” fees on developers building new projects along the western end of the trail. Developers can only avoid those fees by making half of their residential units affordable, or below market rate.
The proposed ordinance is designed to pump the brakes on the booming real estate market along the trail that is fueling gentrification and displacing residents, many of them Latino.
The only difference between the original version and the one presented Wednesday is the latest version has a lot more aldermanic support. The original ordinance was sponsored by Maldonado, former 1st Ward alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno, and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th).
Wednesday’s ordinance is sponsored by La Spata, Ramirez-Rosa and a host of other aldermen: Ald. Felix Cardona Jr. (31st), Ald. Matt Martin (47th), Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd), Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) and Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) are all listed as co-sponsors.
Unlike La Spata, Maldonado doesn’t want to make changes to the ordinance, though he is open to negotiating with those who do.
“I wish no changes will occur,” he said. “But I’m also realistic that when you introduce a piece of legislation you have to be willing to compromise.”
Maldonado said the reason he reintroduced the original ordinance now is because he wanted to restart the legislative process and “make sure this ordinance is on top.”
“We will not be pushed down on the order of things to get done,” he said.
“If we waited until December or until everyone’s happy, then it would’ve [pushed] approval to next year’s budget and then who knows — I don’t know how many new pieces of legislation this administration is going to introduce upon approving the new budget.”
La Spata said he found out last-minute that Maldonado was planning on reintroducing the original ordinance, and that it came as a surprise to him, especially after having dedicated a couple months to crafting a new version.
But La Spata said he feels no ill will toward Maldonado, noting that the 26th Ward alderman has more experience than him. Maldonado has served on City Council since 2009.
“I mean, truthfully, I have been doing the job for just about 120 days. He has been working at this longer than I have,” La Spata said. La Spata was elected to his first term this past February.
“There is a recognition of seniority and leadership and I’m willing to respect that and work on building our relationship knowing that down the line it’s going to lead to good results for the community we’re both serving together,” La Spata said.
Still, La Spata sees the path forward differently.
The 1st Ward alderman sees Wednesday’s proposed ordinance as “very much a document in process.”
“I think we all know that the ordinance needs a lot of negotiation, needs a lot of revision,” La Spata said.
La Spata has been crafting a new version with community partners like Logan Square Neighborhood Association for a couple of months now. In addition to lowering developer fees, he also wants to streamline the affordable housing fund component. La Spata worked for Logan Square Neighborhood Association as an organizer before he became alderman.
The original version calls for depositing the developer fees into an affordable housing trust managed by a board of trustees made up of local aldermen leaders from local groups and city commissioners. La Spata said the terms of the fund need to be more clearly laid out.
That’s not to say La Spata wants to see the proposed ordinance completely reworked. He believes in the heart of the legislation, but wants to see changes “that will help it function better and make it be more widely accepted in the community,” he said. La Spata sponsored Wednesday’s ordinance after all.
It could be an uphill battle for La Spata, Maldonado and the other aldermen who reintroduced the proposed ordinance on Wednesday.
The proposed ordinance didn’t advance in 2017 despite support from community groups. Critics said the fees were too high and the law would hurt property values. Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said he didn’t think the ordinance “would pass legal muster.”
Maldonado blames then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.
“The previous administration was very, very reluctant to even have a hearing or have a meeting [with] the public. They told me they didn’t want it to move,” he said.
“I said, ‘Why?’ and they said, ‘It’s going to stop development.'” I said, ‘That’s precisely what we want so people do not keep getting pushed out of our neighborhoods and these neighborhoods stop from being aggressively gentrified.”
La Spata said he met with new Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently and she was “really struck” by the data driving the ordinance.
Jennie Fronczak, director of development and marketing at LUCHA, one of the groups involved in crafting the ordinance, noted that “there’s a whole brand new freshman class” of alderman.
“We’re really excited about the new possibilities of moving it forward this time,” Fronczak said.
In the coming months, the ordinance will be referred to a committee. That committee chair will schedule a hearing and then the committee can decide whether or to send to the full City Council for a vote.
Read the ordinance below:
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