Zoning and Race In Chicago

A couple quotes by Amanda Williams are important for starting to understand race and zoning in Chicago:

“Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the United States. When you grow up in a place like this, where there are invisible lines that you should not cross, places that don’t belong to you, then your whole perception of the way the world operates is the grid.”

Amanda Williams

“It’s a metastasis baked into every kernel, from planning and zoning, to multi- and single-family housing, and conversations about public and private space.”

Amanda Williams

Dear Alderman La Spata, Build Homes Now!

Alderman La Spata,

Please reconsider your move to downzone the 1628 W Division Street development. I ask that you let this project move forward and do not obstruct the construction of any affordable housing in the 1st Ward.

In the past you have supported the construction of affordable housing; an example of this would be the Emmett Street development in Logan Square. That is a great project that will add 100 affordable units to Logan Square.  I find it odd that you would support that project, but oppose adding 20+ affordable units to Wicker Park. This is an equally valid project that will only add to an already vibrant Wicker Park.

I fear that you have placed too much weight on the opinions of a homeowner community group that opposes new construction and affordable housing. You have taken them at their word that they are arguing in good faith, but they are not speaking for the entire community. Community groups of this kind were used since the 1910s as a way to segregate cities all across the United States. Although their language has been toned down, their goals are the same. Consider this recent podcast, Segregation Then and Now, or the book The Color of Law by Rothstein. 

Continue reading “Dear Alderman La Spata, Build Homes Now!”

The Cost of Sprawl / The Efficiency of Density

I love this tweet that shares the work by Eric Kronberg (https://www.kronbergua.com/). I had to save it here so I can find it and reference it in the future.

It does a great job of visually capturing the cost of sprawl, or the efficiency of density. The whole presentation can be downloaded HERE. It’s a must read.

‘respecting local attitudes’

As I read through The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein I’m going to capture tidbits that I find compelling. From the last paragraph of Chapter 1 page 37:

“Reflecting on public housing in his state, Carey McWilliams, who had been California’s housing commissioner in the early years of World War II, later wrote that “the federal government [had] in effect been planting the seeds of Jim Crow practices throughout the region under the guise of ‘respecting local attitudes.'”

The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein

We can only wonder what our urban areas would look like today if, instead of creating segregation where it never, or perhaps barely, existed, federal and local government had pushed in the opposite direction, using public housing as an example of how integrated living could be successful.