Public Meetings Report. Illustration by Holley Appold/South Side Weekly
Public Meetings Report. Illustration by Holley Appold/South Side Weekly

Public Meetings Report – July 22, 2021

A recap of select open meetings at the local, county, and state level for the July 22 issue

  1. Public Meetings Report – March 18, 2021
  2. Public Meetings Report – April 1, 2021
  3. Public Meetings Report – April 15, 2021
  4. Public Meetings Report – April 29, 2021
  5. Public Meetings Report – May 13, 2021
  6. Public Meetings Report – May 27, 2021
  7. Public Meetings Report – June 10, 2021
  8. Public Meetings Report – June 24, 2021
  9. Public Meetings Report – July 08, 2021
  10. Public Meetings Report – July 22, 2021
  11. Public Meetings Report – August 05, 2021
  12. Public Meetings Report – August 19, 2021
  13. Public Meetings Report – September 30, 2021
  14. Public Meetings Report – October, 14 2021

July 7

An extension comprising three acres at 1926 W. Harrison St., near the Medical District, would accommodate two market-price residential towers with commercial space to be developed by Marquette Companies at a cost of $140 million. At a hearing of the City Council Committee on Finance, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development presented a report supporting the project. “This project will bring a new development to a large parcel, improving a desolate stretch of Ogden Avenue,” the report noted. Approval would provide the developer with about $2 million in state and local tax incentives. The committee was scheduled to vote on the recommendation July 19. The State Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity makes the final decision.

July 8

At a People’s Budget Chicago community meeting hosted by Chicago United for Equity (CUE) and Yollocalli Arts Reach, youth participants used a game to suggest how to allocate the city’s budget. The exercise revealed significant differences between current allocations and where community members wanted the money to go. Notable discrepancies were in health care, housing, and the carceral system, defined as the Chicago Police Department and police accountability structures. Views on the causes of crime and how to allocate crime-prevention dollars varied. One participant considered crime to be mostly a mental health issue, for example, suggesting that more money be allocated to mental health services. Another noted that the high amount of gang violence means budget money should be provided for the carceral system, which now receives about thirty-six percent. (In the game, participants proposed reducing the carceral system budget by almost two-thirds.) Others emphasized preserving the culture and identity of La Villita neighborhood while creating an equitable environment by addressing issues of gentrification, pollution, crime, and unguided youth. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said she will introduce her budget proposal in September. 

July 9

The Brighton Park Neighborhood Council and Chicago United for Equity hosted a People’s Budget Chicago activity at a joint block party. The more than one hundred community members attending were asked how communities can be safe and thriving. Responses in Spanish and English identified police and security, activities for families and children, support for single mothers, hospitals and health clinics, and affordable housing and jobs as ways to ensure vibrant communities. At times, community members seemed confused about the City’s current budget, with some saying they don’t see how the budget invests in their community. A youth participant commented that “it seems like a lot of stuff we took into more consideration [during the activity] is stuff that they don’t really seem to put a lot of money into.” Finding volunteers to bring community input forward to the City Council beyond the mail-in slips was challenging. 

July 13

Lightfoot and Michael Fassnacht, CEO of World Business Chicago, visited San Francisco on July 7 and 8 to attract tech companies like Uber and Salesforce to the city. At the City Council Committee on Economic, Capital, and Technology Development hearing, Fassnacht said Chicago needed more lab space for life sciences and film production studios. “We positioned Chicago as the next big thing in life sciences,” he said. Ald. Walter Burnett said he’s “bumping heads with residents with [building] height and things like that” with new developments like Lincoln Yards, but Fassnacht said zoning is out of his purview. Ten Special Service Area Commissioners appointed or reappointed by the mayor were also approved. 

The City Colleges of Chicago Committee on Finance and Administrative Services and Board of Trustees received budget information at their first meetings since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Public commenters, largely from Clerical and Technical Employees Local 1708, expressed concerns over working conditions, including rodent infestations, lack of hot water and heat still “blasting” in some facilities, and students refusing to wear masks. Another individual asked that the CCC achieve an eighty percent vaccination rate by October 1, keep vaccination sites open, and improve ventilation. The City Colleges of Chicago’s FY2022 budget totals $509 million. A key goal, according to a presentation to the Board of Trustees, is stabilizing the cash position, which was depleted because of the state’s failure to pass a budget in recent years. The cash position is the amount of cash a company or organization has on hand. It’s improved from a 2017 low of $55 million to the 2021 projected operating balance of $122 million. Chancellor Juan Salgado also reported that the tuition hourly rate will be the same for the sixth straight year. 

The Community Development Commission gave the go-ahead to two significant performing arts building projects in South Shore and Bronzeville. The Chi‘ producer Derek Dudley presented the commission with a proposal to purchase a vacant property near the Chicago Skyway on 71st and Stony Island to house Regal Mile Studios. The commission approved selling the property to Dudley for $31,000. Dudley, who has been managing the rapper Common, talked about his excitement for the $60-million project and for working in Chicago. Two days later the commission unanimously backed zoning for the project. The commission also approved the redevelopment of a warehouse on 43rd and Cottage Grove. That plan calls for the property to be transformed into a performing arts center consisting of a 350-seat theater and a 100-seat black-box venue. Construction is scheduled to begin within a year. The nonprofit developer, Lillian Marcie Legacy Company, will receive $3 million in TIF assistance from the city and more than $2 million in New Market Tax Credits

July 14

The Department of Housing received approximately 27,000 applications in one month for rent assistance through the Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance. The ordinance offers protections for renters when a building goes into foreclosure and a total of $137 million in requested aid. The City has more than forty people processing applications with a goal of paying out $4 million a week, Commissioner Marisa Novara said at the City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate meeting. The acquisition of fifteen parcels at 79th and Exchange, in South Shore, was approved for private development. The Resurrection Project, a non-profit developer in Pilsen, also sought a multi-family loan for the construction of Casa Durango, two new “elevator buildings” of affordable housing on Racine Ave.

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This information was collected in large part using reporting from City Bureau’s Documenters at documenters.org.

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