B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Chicago as Houston

with 3 comments

Houston is famous for having a patchwork quilt of zoning regulations, and a subsequent crazy mess of an urban jungle. If Chicago Aldermen don’t watch out, we’ll end up in the same dire predicament: having a city without rhyme or reason, loved by nobody except developers, and their politician puppies.

In the ongoing “Neighborhoods for Sale” series, the Tribune has documented an insiders’ game in which aldermen rake in millions of dollars in campaign cash from developers, zoning lawyers and architects while often overriding the concerns of homeowners and city planners. Out-of-scale buildings leave existing homes in their shadows, the result of nearly 6,000 council-approved zoning changes in the last 10 years that have transformed neighborhoods.

The results of this patchwork approach to development have been jarring, with mini-mansions replacing modest bungalows and condo blocks rising over increasingly traffic-choked streets.

The Tribune has found that zoning rules have been ignored or changed to make it easier for developers and harder for residents to have a meaningful say in what gets built on their streets.

Developers commonly fail to put up signs required by law to notify neighbors of proposed zoning changes. Neighbors frequently don’t get letters notifying them of nearby projects.

And if they manage to learn of pending proposals and attend the City Hall hearings, they may find themselves prohibited from asking questions of developers and aldermen.

For a street-level view of how the code really works, look at the 50th Ward and the story of the proposed seven-story senior housing complex the City Council recently approved at the behest of Ald. Bernard Stone.

[From Who calls the shots in your back yard? Not you. -- chicagotribune.com]

Catholic Charity aged
[A now-destroyed building, replaced by a 20 story residential building, still being constructed, called R+D 659]

There are rumors that a a large building1 is being planned on the NW corner of Jefferson and Randolph: large enough that the historic Crane’s Alley might be appropriated. Our Alderman, Brendan Reilly, claims to know nothing about it. We shall see.

Journey to the Underworld

Footnotes:
  1. either a hotel, or a 40 story structure, I’ve heard both []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 20th, 2008 at 8:07 am

3 Responses to 'Chicago as Houston'

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  1. [...] in a down-turn? There is the Catalyst, right across the street from this newly proposed building, R+D 659, the Emerald, and probably others. An amazing boom happening in my zip [...]

  2. [...] I’ve never resided in Houston, but I have spent enough time there over the years to know that it would never1 be on my list of top 1000 cities to live in. Chicago has its problems and weaknesses, but they are piddling compared to the weaknesses of Houston. [...]

  3. [...] The bane of Texas, Governor “Good Hair” Perry, resisted accepting stimulus money from the federal government, but was eventually over-ruled by his legislature. Ironically, without the stimulus money, Texas would really be in dire straits. Will Perry apologize? Ha, only when Houston freezes in July. [...]

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