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Zoning Meetings Become Battleground in 47th Ward

Community residents in the 47th ward are increasingly using zoning meetings as forums for their concerns about affordable housing and disenfranchisement. This article is
about the most recent zoning meeting for yet another luxury
Zoning Meetings Become Battleground in 47th Ward

On March 21st, community members on the North side gathered to hear the usual cast of characters present plans for the development of a luxury condo on West Irving Park Road. To many neighborhoods across Chicago, this scene is becoming a familiar by-product of gentrification.

Although the subject matter and the format of these meetings may seem predictable – increasingly they are becoming battlegrounds for the issue of affordable housing and calls for the democratization of the planning process itself.

As luxury condos dominate the landscape of the 47th ward and long-time residents are pushed from the community by rising costs of housing, people are coming to zoning meetings demanding to be heard. The most recent meeting on the 21st opened with several community members asking that absentee ballots be accepted. When Alderman Schulter refused their request, nearly one third of the people in the room got up, voted, and left. Similar demands for enfranchisement were made in a zoning meeting in January and were also rejected by Schulter. (Preview the latest Labor Beat video, “People vs. Property in the 47th Ward” for a good look at this issue. )

The specific development proposed for the location on W. Irving would include sixteen luxury duplexes, six row houses, and six luxury condos with a total of 40 parking spaces, built with additional room for SUV’s. Prices would range from $160,000 to $500,000.

In a ward that has experienced a shocking level of voter turnover in the last 16 months, one of the primary issues at the meeting was the Alderman’s proposal that two of the cheaper units be sold under market value to moderate-income, long-time residents. Several community members demanded to know why only two units would be reserved and how people would be chosen to receive these units. Many long-term residents, both renters and property owners, have been forced from the 47th ward by developments just like this one. Providing only two affordable units for purchase and in turn creating 26 more luxury units is hardly a solution to the issue of affordable housing. Calls for affordable rent and fair housing practices rose from the group. These cries were ignored.

Many of the people living in the immediate vicinity were most concerned about the traffic this development would generate and the possible risks it would pose to children playing in the alley. As several residents of neighboring precincts pointed out, these concerns – although important - are only the tip of the iceberg. As gentrification takes hold and developments such as this one become the norm rather than the exception, issues of traffic and safety will be only grow larger and in short time be joined by a lack of affordable housing.

Learn more about rising dissent in the 47th ward at and check out the labor beat video “People vs. Property in the 47th Ward”
..on Cable channel CAN TV 19 – Chicago,
....9:30pm April 5, 4:30pm April 6,
....9:30pm April 12, 4:30pm April 13 at



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