Broad Shoulders Update

news and information for cmun dev advocates in metropolitan Chicago

Candidates face off, CTA gets facelift

East Village Association board minutes for Sept. 15, 2014, submitted by Catherine Garypie


The council's organizing aldermanic debates for the 1st & 2nd wards. Format:

  • Moderator (possibly moderator from last Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association debates)
  • Submit questions in advance to screen repetitive questions
  • Same question for each candidate
  • Time limit for candidates to answer
  • Have candidates provide a personal statement in advance (post them, hand them out to crowd)
  • Question ideas include public safety, zoning, planning, education

President Neal McKnight has reached out to Wells High School. Another possible location is the theater at Northwest Settlement House.


Please get teams signed up (and/or sell spectator tickets). Prizes contributed so far are awesome. We are 10 days out. Sponsors can contribute cash.


In an email exchange with West Town Special Service Area program manager Kace Wakem, McKnight asked about the 20% PIN threshold (20% of properties, counted by PIN number, have to agree to extend the SSA). Wakem responded that they need 5% with the application and the remainder (15%) can be gathered between date of application and date of City Council hearing Oct. 2.

SSA Wicker Park also doesn't have a lot of signatures ("We don't have to worry about it because Moreno said he'd take care of it"). We need to have a strong showing on Oct. 2 at City Hall. It appears that aldermen Burnett, Waguspack & Moreno decide how many PINs are needed before the hearing. McKnight will send an email to the three alderman and the commissioner.


1947 W. CHICAGO AVE.: EVA asked for a restrictive covenant to prohibit certain uses on ground floor, and for restoration of the facade consistent with the EVA landmark district guidelines, in exchange for supporting upzone from B3-2 to be B3-3; this will allow developer to use the 4th floor that has been under construction for 8 to 10 years. (PINs for this property are now combined.)

The board raised concerns regarding whether the developer will use historically correct metals and windows on the facade, and who will police the restoration. The building is in the 1st Ward. EVA has only sent a letter to the developer. EVA will ask for list of materials from the builder.

1822-50 W. CHICAGO AVE.: The affordable housing issue has been referred to committee. EVA will draft a letter to the Department of Planning and cc every member of the committee, including the chair. Ald. Proco Joe Moreno said to EVA: "I won't let them out of affordable housing," and then later changed his mind "based on financial hardship." Relevant committee is Zoning Landmarks & Building Standards or Housing & Real Estate.


Rob Buono of 1611 W. Division will make a financial contribution for an improvement to the Polish Triangle. Food sales will be allowed. Advertising must exist on the Polish Triangle. The Chicago Department of Transportation has hired a third party to get community input and work on an upgrade to create community space and add revenue. The CTA is also doing a renovation of the L stop.

CDOT owns the land around the stairs coming up from the L stop. This will be a public/private partnership. Architect Jeanne Gang may eventually be approached. Ideas generated by board include: moving fountain (current fountain is not well maintained), build on the Site, etc.


Suggested business minute: Authentaco, First Midwest Bank, Whisk, El Metro. Aldermanic candidates: 2 candidates at the start of each meeting for 5 to 10 minutes. Will start with 2nd Ward candidates in October.


Short discussions on membership, contributions, website.

Leona's on Augusta has new owners ("Quality Pizza"), the food has changed. ... Club Foot – EVA needs to check current zoning and investigate liquor license issues. ... Inner Town Pub is seeking permission to put in a beer garden (again).

Historic preservation efforts by EVA continue. Preservation Chicago, Landmarks are looking at the Chicago Historic Resource Survey gaps and researching preservation efforts. In other similar cities, "certificate of appropriateness" must be submitted by the developers. Is the demolition appropriate? The developers actually have to prove this rather than constantly seeking input from the community as in Chicago.

EVA may seek to expand 90-day delay to 270-day delay, add green components. A draft ordinance is to be done by Sept. 22 and a draft package by Nov. 1. Lake Forest has 365-day demolition delay.

Meeting starts 6:30pm, adjourns 7:30pm at West Town Bakery & Diner. Attendance: S. Rynkiewicz, M. Van Dam, N. McKnight, KK Goh, Dan Johnson, Rich Anselmo, Gladys Alcazar-Anselmo, C. Garypie, T. Tomek, B. Foote, Elaine Coorens (Our Urban Times).

Written by Webmaster

October 5th, 2014 at 8:03 pm

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Alderman OKs Fifield apartments

Ald. Proco Joe Moreno will support zoning changes for a 59-unit apartment building at 1822-50 W. Chicago Ave. Current zoning allows 39 apartments.

The project's in the City Council's Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards committee, and is expected to come before the Plan Commission this fall.

East Village Association members voted against the zoning changes on May 5. A letter to the alderman notes members' objections, and efforts to develop the property as an extension of Commercial Park.

The developer is being allowed to "buy out" of two of the six affordable units that would be required with this zoning change. It appears that Moreno will require Fifield to build four of the six apartments, but simultaneously allowed the developer to reduce a pledged contribution to Commercial Park from $200,000 to $100,000.

"The East Village Association believes that Ald. Moreno's approval of this project is a retreat from his longstanding commitment to require developers to actually build affordable housing in the 1st Ward," President Neal McKnight says in a statement. "The Fifield Cos. made no showing of a financial hardship and if the inclusion of the small number of affordable units creates a hardship, they should build within existing zoning.

"We continue to hope that Alderman Moreno will change course and seek and at a minimum seek an amendment to the planned development ordinance requiring the construction of all of the affordable units," McKnight said.

Raymond Valadez, Moreno's chief of staff, "believes that the developer patiently waited an inordinate amount of time, at the request of the East Village Association, while EVA and the Commercial Park Advisory Council determined whether it was financially feasible to purchase the land."

Written by Stephen Rynkiewicz

October 4th, 2014 at 10:51 pm

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Visit city chickens!

This is the 5th year of the Windy City Coop Tour, a free, self-guided event featuring 29 coops in the backyards of Chicago and some suburban locales. The tour runs this Saturday and Sunday, September 20 and 21, but on Saturday only, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can visit chickens in our own ‘hood, at the Farmessori at 1110 N Wood Street.  

The Farmessori flock just added three new members: a Buff Orpington, a Silver Laced Wyandotte, and an Exchequer Leghorn; in addition to the fabulous Polish Crested hens. If you’re not a chicken enthusiast, and haven’t visited the Farmessori, it’s worth the trip to see the garden. Farmer Joe Phillips and students and families from the Near North Montessori School will be on hand to welcome you.

The Tour Map and details about all 29 Host sites are on the Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts’ website ( and its Windy City Coop Tour page.  It’s an opportunity to see more than fowl: First-time Host Eric Staswick’s urban farm/yard in Albany Park is home to chickens, ducks, dairy goats, and assorted vegetables and fruits. He says, “We keep chickens because we believe it’s important to understand the food cycle and where our food comes from. We want our kids to understand that food is grown, not manufactured.”

Angelic Organics Learning Center and the Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts organize the Tour so visitors can browse and learn from practical examples. According to Anika Byrley, whose family keeps chickens in Logan Square, “We love the Tour and look forward to hosting because we enjoy sharing with others how enjoyable, easy, and rewarding keeping backyard chickens can be.” Matt Binns and Margaret Frisbie in the Hermosa neighborhood. “We originally got our chickens because we thought it was good for the planet and a kinder way to get eggs. We found that not only are the eggs wonderful and wholesome, but the chickens are hilarious and fun, and not much effort at all.”

I can attest to that! Visiting the chickens never fails to put a smile on my face. The Farmessori chickens are cared for by a crew of volunteers, of which I am one. It's a great example of the "it takes a village" concept. Check it out!  

Quotes from the press release published on the web as 2014 Windy City Coop Tour PR.

Written by Marjie Isaacson

October 4th, 2014 at 5:49 pm

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When Will Attitudes Change Towards Solar?

It was a bright, sunny day in Chicago on September 24. Celebrants were singing, “You Are My Sunshine,” as the solar panels had already saved $64 since the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) in the US had started them up just a few hours earlier. With 483 panels, each producing 310 watts, ICA’s 166,000 square foot landmark building in Chicago’s Uptown community now has the largest number of solar panels on a building outside of downtown.

Written by Rooflines

October 3rd, 2014 at 8:30 pm

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When Will Attitudes Change Toward Solar?

It was a bright, sunny day in Chicago on September 24. Celebrants were singing, “You Are My Sunshine,” as the solar panels had already saved $64 since the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) in the US had started them up just a few hours earlier. With 483 panels, each producing 310 watts, ICA’s 166,000 square foot landmark building in Chicago’s Uptown community now has the largest number of solar panels on a building outside of downtown.

Written by Rooflines

October 3rd, 2014 at 8:30 pm

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Suitcases and Shopping Carts: Lessons from Recent Labor Victories

This week, the Hyatt Hotels Corporation agreed to pay $1 million to the 98 housekeepers who were fired and replaced by lower-paid workers five years ago.  A few weeks earlier, employees of the Market Basket family-owned grocery store chain returned to work after over a month of protests helped to reinstate the ousted, worker-friendly CEO. These two labor victories are remarkable not only because they demonstrate the power of collective bargaining even without union support, they also illustrate the power of collective purchasing power: the thousands of consumers who boycotted Market Basket and targeted Hyatt hotels used their suitcases and shopping carts to promote workers’ rights.  Community developers have long recognized that constituents are a source of power, and recent events raise strategic questions. The answer can remind us how to harness that power:

Written by Rooflines

October 2nd, 2014 at 2:18 pm

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Divvy expands to Evanston and Oak Park

Bike sharing is coming to Evanston and Oak Park, and once again it's expanding in the city of Chicago, too!

“Expanding Divvy outside of the city limits means fewer cars on the roads and gives more residents and visitors the fun opportunity to take a ride,” said Governor Pat Quinn at Evanston’s annual Bike the Ridge event last weekend.

Evanston Mayor Tisdahl added, “Divvy will help improve residents’ health and lower the city’s carbon footprint.”

The $3 million in new funding brings 12 Divvy stations to Oak Park and eight to Evanston, and also adds 50 new docking stations with bicycles to Chicago’s Garfield Park, Austin, Rogers Park and West Rogers Park neighborhoods.

Though it is too early to say exactly where the stations would be installed, site planning is being discussed.  (Do you have a suggestion for a station location?)

For many months, Active Trans has been part of the chorus of voices urging the state of Illinois to locate funding for this project. To help with the expansion, Active Trans also provided support to the city of Oak Park in assessing locations for Divvy stations.  

“Ever since Divvy arrived in Chicago, we’ve been hearing from residents who are eager to have bike sharing in village,” said Oak Park’s Parking and Mobility Services Director, Jill Velan.

And now it'll be here by spring 2015. Congratulations Oak Park, Evanston and Chicago!

Photo of Evanston Mayor Tisdahl courtesy of Wally Bobkiewicz and the city of Evanston. 

Written by Nancy Wagner

October 2nd, 2014 at 3:43 am

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Keeping It Real

A new generation of city leaders with fresh ideas are making solid progress on tough urban challenges by rediscovering an old truth: neighborhood matters.

Susana Vasquez, LISC Chicago's executive director, discussed the value of neighborhoods with 800 academics and practitioners at the UIC Urban Forum on September 18.

Photos by Roberta Dubuis-Devlin, UIC

“This is about the deep relationship between people and place,” said Susana Vasquez, executive director of LISC Chicago, in welcoming a gathering of 800 academics and practitioners Sept. 18 at the annual UIC Urban Forum, which this year was titled “The Return of the Neighborhood as an Urban Strategy.”

“What better-positioned person to co-chair the event?” asked Michael Pagano by way of introducing Vasquez. He’s dean of the University if Illinois-Chicago’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, which organized the day-long conference.

Vasquez opened by saying neighborhoods never went away. And she’d know, having worked as a community organizer in the Mexican-American Pilsen community before joining LISC in 2003 to manage its New Communities Program. Several New Communities veterans were on the Forum’s six discussion panels, sharing what they learned during LISC’s 10-year experiment in locally directed comprehensive community development.

Vasquez outlined six procedural steps that are at the heart of how LISC approaches its work:

* Engage, by taking the time to listen to people in the neighborhood.

* Plan, by bringing together stakeholders to develop a vision for the neighborhood and strategies to bring the vision to life.

* Act, by networking with LISC and others to marshal resources needed for change.

* Communicate, using the power of a well-told story to change a neighborhood’s narrative from “who got shot” to what’s being accomplished.

* Evaluate, not by measuring results afterwards, but as a guiding tool during implementation.

* Repeat, because it takes successive layers of engagement and capacity-building to create enduring change.

A local response and a big picture

Vasquez cautioned, however, that no amount of local effort will succeed long term unless national policies – economic policy, immigration policy, health care policy and the rest – are supportive of neighborhood health.

“We need to work harder to make those connections stronger and our policies more effective,” she said, “for the benefit of our neighborhoods, our cities and our country.”

Neighborhood quality-of-life plans can galvanize and create coherence in how a community moves forward, said Terry Mazany, president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust.

Terry Mazany, president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, underscored the macro/micro linkage by describing how the Great Recession of 2007-08 and the anemic recovery that followed caused a “marked compression” in the number of Chicago neighborhoods with steady or growing prosperity.

“We’re down to 21 (of 77) neighborhoods that are feeling any sort of positive economic activity, household formation or educational attainment,” said Mazany of recent Census data. “It’s becoming a bifurcated economy and the keys for success and opportunity are not felt from the ground up.”

Mazany noted that the quality-of-life plans in a number of neighborhoods, “funded by the MacArthur Foundation and with LISC leadership,” can galvanize and create coherence in how a neighborhood can move forward. That’s why, he said, the Trust has asked LISC to manage a wider inventory of neighborhood assets, from community groups to public works, that could guide future city investments and planning efforts.

“But there are these larger macro forces that are at play,” Mazany said, echoing Vasquez’s point, “driving population out of communities, forcing school closings, as an example, that take a vital anchor institution out of a community.”

Bernita Johnson-Gabriel, executive director of the Quad Communities Development Corporation, stressed the importance of improving the quality of neighborhood schools following the large number of closings in 2012.

Co-panelist Bernita Johnson-Gabriel, executive director of Quad Communities Development Corp., related how the school closings of 2012 drove a wedge between families that use magnet or selective enrollment schools and those relegated to neighborhood schools that are underperforming.

“How do we now move the conversation from what happened to how we’re going to improve the quality of schools that remain?” implored Johnson-Gabriel, who has been a mainstay of the New Communities effort on the Near South Side.

Why policies matter

At an afternoon panel on the issue of gentrification, moderator Craig Howard, director of community and economic development at the MacArthur Foundation, challenged panelists who decried the displacement of the poor by the well-to-do.

Howard, who has helped guide MacArthur’s investment in LISC’s New Communities Program, said he grew up in Englewood back when “going downtown” meant 63rd and Halsted streets. Then it was the city’s second-busiest commercial district, anchored by the likes of an A&P supermarket and Goldblatts department store. Disinvestment can be catastrophic, he implied, whereas gentrification, while painful, can be ameliorated with, say, strategies to build and preserve affordable housing.

The MacArthur Foundation's Craig Howard challenged panelists who decried the displacement of the poor by the well-to-do.

“Aren’t all neighborhoods changing?” he asked.

At a closing panel on immigrant communities, Michael Rodríguez, executive director of Enlace Chicago in Little Village, made a point that underlined how Chicago’s neighborhoods don’t all move in lockstep: 26th Street, his neighborhood’s commercial spine, remains one of the most vibrant in the city, largely unscathed by the Great Recession.

He also explained how national policy – in this case the failure to reform national immigration policy – feeds into the biggest problem in his neighborhood, youth violence. “Since 2007 we’ve had 119 people murdered in our community, over 60 percent of them under the age of 25,” said Rodríguez, whose organization carries the New Communities banner in Little Village.

Police have complained residents often fail to come forward with information about who’s doing the shooting, in part because many fear they or someone in their family could be exposed as undocumented and forcibly deported.

Neighborhoods are key," said Enlace Chicago's Michael Rodriguez. "They’re the urban strategy that works."

“We need to separate local law enforcement from immigration services,” Rodríguez argued.

And later, as if to sum up the day’s discussions, he explained his point of view on the work: “We need to learn from each other, to share best practices and data on outcomes. Neighborhoods are key. They’re the urban strategy that works.”

Written by LISC Chicago

October 1st, 2014 at 6:00 pm

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Don’t Force Employees to Live in Cities They Work For—Entice Them!

I recently was asked about the pros and cons of municipalities requiring that their employees live within the city limits. It’s an interesting question that raises a host of public policy questions, but emergency response personnel comes to my mind. The city council of Brentwood, a small city in southern California, is debating whether or not to require its city manager to live within the town limits. Among the reasons cited is that the manager is also the city’s director of emergency services.  Requiring that the manager live within the city’s boundaries ensures that he or she is able to effectively assume that role in a disaster, according to an article in the Contra Costa Times. Emergency preparedness and an oft-stated desire to “keep city money in the city" mentioned in a recent article out of Michigan are all valid goals, but I think turning the question around is more important. We should be asking, “What could cities do to encourage its employees and others to want to live within its boundaries?”

Written by Rooflines

October 1st, 2014 at 3:24 pm

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How to Respond When Someone Screams “But We’ll Get Sued!”

There are not a ton of things I read on the Internet that instantly make me want to hunt down the author and send him or her flowers. But Charles Marohn's post "On Liability" on the Strong Towns blog was definitely one of them. "Liability" is increasingly sucking the joy out of life. Everywhere you turn, things that are pleasant or good or fun or beautiful or healthy are being destroyed or disallowed because of the specter of "liability." Stairs to a capital city's largest public space are closed for half the year. Children are prevented from getting exercise by riding their bikes to school or playing on school grounds except when school is in session. And on and on. This has long been a major peeve of mine, as I see the costs of the fear as generally being far greater than the potential costs of the theoretically dangerous thing. But Marohn is the first person to make me believe that this was a phenomenon that can be fought. And his suggestion was as elegant as it is startling:

Written by Rooflines

September 29th, 2014 at 9:30 pm

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