Cities and Factories

Mark Fruin (@CYimby)

Recently the Chicago Department of Planning and Development (@ChicagoDPD) announced that it was going to allow for residential use of an area that was previously a planned manufacturing district (PMD):

This is great news. The West Loop is in high demand with new apartment and office developments popping up seemingly every week. This is a great thing for Chicago as a whole as it allows residents to live in a dense area near the core job center. This means shorter commutes and less vehicle miles traveled for new residents.

The transition from manufacturing to residential zoning in cities makes a ton of sense for a number of reasons.

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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. 

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