“We need the right land use policies, so around things like parking minimums, which are catastrophic, around things like height rules around transit nodes, around things like the way that bike lanes operate, and the design of roads that kind of allow for 35 mph and not 25 mph…all that stuff that we know is a disincentive to walking and cycling, is embedded in our municipal land use policies.
“What the state should do is not just increase investment in mass transit, but then condition that investment on municipal polices that encourage the kind of mixed-use development, transit-oriented development, walkability, bikeability.
“If you do that, if you have state dollars tied to these policies, you can change municipal polices across the state, and then you can have a real revolution in walkability and bikeability.”
Anyone can read it and comment, only the invited few can edit. If you would like to make some edits, ask for an invitation.
The primary election is on March 20, but early voting in Cook County has begun. Anyone registered in Cook County can vote early at multiple sites, including the downtown hub at 16 W Adams. Voting here is quick because they have so many voting booths.
The American Planning Association, Illinois chapter, sent out a legislation alert this morning about three bills that would prevent government funds from being used to send employees to conferences.
I wrote the following letter to my two state representatives.
Dear Representative Soto and Illinois Senator Aquino,
I urge you to vote no on the bills HB4246, HB4247, and HB4248 (“bills”).
I am a professional urban planner in Humboldt Park who hopes to have a job with a government agency in Chicago very soon (I’ve applied three times to the same agency, because I want to work there so badly). I have many colleagues, friends, and fellow UIC alumni, who currently work for government agencies in Illinois.
These bills will ban government employees from attending conferences, which is important to government and to these employees for 3 reasons:
1. It’s an opportunity for the worker to learn the latest knowledge, technology, and practices for their line of work. Government agencies should have high quality workers and staying abreast of new ideas in their field is paramount to a high quality government agency.
2. It’s an opportunity for the government agency to share the results of their internal work with a wider audience, gain recognition, and share and receive best practices from other government agencies.
3. Workers who are certified in their respective industries must attend events to receive “continuing education” credits to ensure they can keep their certification. If the employer isn’t paying for this, then the employee is encouraged to find a job elsewhere that will.
I understand that there seems to have been some abuse, at least from what I’ve read in the news about Governor Rauner’s head of the IT department, but these bills are an overbearing and potentially damaging way to deal with that problem.
YIMBY (yes in my back yard) is a movement to reduce barriers to building more housing in order to be able to house everyone at a level they can afford. It’s a movement for other things, and it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people but the end result is that more housing needs to be built.
An interested person inputs a lot of values relevant to their local housing market into the IHC and it will calculate the cost of construction per unit and the rental income from those units, and then will figure the profit margin for the developer. What makes this “inclusionary” is that one also needs to enter the desired portion of units that are set aside as “affordable” (to people making a certain income) and subsidized by the developer’s rental income.
I put the IHC through a real world exercise by inputting as much data as I knew about a rejected proposal in Pilsen.
The first proposal from Property Markets Group had 500 units, and 16 percent of them were set aside (news on this and their subsequent proposals) [I cannot find the source of the “16 percent on-site” factor]. Chicago’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance, or ARO, requires that 10 percent of the units are affordable, and that 25 percent of those 10 percent must be built on site. The other 75 percent can be built on site, or the developer can pay an in-lieu fee per unit.
Needless to say, 16 percent on-site is much, much higher than 25 percent of 10 percent. A neighborhood organization, the Pilsen Land Use Committee, however, requires 21 percent in the area, and the city council member, Danny Solis, 25th Ward, adheres to.
PMG said they couldn’t go that high, and that’s what I wanted to test.
According to this Inclusionary Housing Calculator, could the developer make enough profit (considered as 10 percent) if the building had 21 percent of units as affordable?
In this exercise, the answer was “no, PMG could not make a profit if they had to set aside 21 percent of the units as affordable.”
But the calculator showed that they could earn a 12 percent profit if 16 percent of the units were affordable.
Some of the inputs are actual, like the sale price of the land (found in the Illinois Department of Revenue’s transactions database), but I had to make up some inputs, including the apartments’ bedroom mix, and the future rental prices of those apartments.
It’s tough for people to move into one of these set-aside apartments in Chicago (DNAinfo Chicago, July 28, 2017)
Inclusionary zoning cannot create enough affordable units (City Observatory, February 11, 2016)
We have a lot of power from the backseat to influence our drivers to drive better. We only have to speak up. Photo: John Bracken
I’ve had a lot of experience with a major “transportation network company” this weekend. TNCs are also known as e-hail car services, and, inaccurately, “ride share”, because a car arrives at your location after pressing a button on an app.
I rode in one four times from Friday to Sunday because my visiting friend had a broken bone and couldn’t ride a bike – that was our original plan. Instead we had a multi-modal weekend and relied on walking, public transportation, another friend’s personal vehicle, and the TNC to go out.
These experiences reminded me that advocates for safe streets and better active transportation service and infrastructure – including myself – must directly battle entrenched norms about the “plight of the driver”.
In our final ride, on our way to the airport to drop off my friend, the TNC driver asked about the timing of our trip, if we were in a rush so the driver could know if they needed to drive a certain way.
I said that we were not, that we had budgeted plenty of time, and that Google Maps showed green lines on the local streets and highway between where we had dinner in Ukrainian Village and O’Hare airport.
As he was driving the car northbound on Western Avenue toward the Fullerton Avenue on-ramp to the Kennedy, my friend asked him about the app he was using that was speaking the turn-by-turn directions, and how it knew what the road conditions were.
The app uses the Waze service, which collects data from transportation departments, other drivers, and databases of upcoming road closures. The driver said he liked that it warned him of the locations of red light and speed cameras, too.
“I’ve gotten four speed camera tickets in the last year”, he said, “and they were all $100 each.”
I have written about Chicago’s speed cameras several times in Streetsblog Chicago, and I thought the cost was different so I asked, “Isn’t it lower for the first time?” Nope, he said.
When I looked it up at home I remembered why I was mistaken: The fine is $100 if you are traveling 11 miles per hour or more over the speed limit. The fine is $35 for traveling six to 10 miles per hour or more over the speed limit, but the cameras aren’t enforcing this range currently.
That was the end of our conversation, but I should have kept on.
The conversation we should have had would have questioned his driving behavior. I should have asked, “Why are you driving so far so often?” and “Why aren’t you slowing down? Don’t you know that speeding is dangerous to you, your passengers, and other people outside the car?”
I was spineless and didn’t challenge how he was contributing to unsafe streets in the city. My silence was tacit agreement that four $100 speeding tickets – for driving 41+ in a 30, or 31+ in a 20 in a school zone if a child was present – was a personal burden and not a necessary enforcement tool to try and reduce the number of injuries and deaths in car crashes in Chicago.
Later, on the Kennedy Expressway, he was traveling a bit over 70 miles per hour, or more than 25 miles per hour greater than the speed limit. Again I said nothing.
Another of the TNC drivers this weekend was likely high on marijuana. I shouldn’t have accepted any of these situations.