The neighborhoods of the 47th ward are great places to live and raise a family but more residents are concerned about rising costs of living, taxes, and crime. Small business owners are concerned about rising rents, increased cost of doing business, and maintaining foot traffic along commercial corridors.
As a City staffer, I worked with aldermen and advocates on a series of reforms designed to preserve and expand affordable housing and spearheaded initiatives to streamline the business licensing code to reduce red tape and expand microlending for small businesses.
If I am elected alderman, I will advocate to hold the line on tax increases, focus on smart, inclusive and affordable development in the neighborhood, fight for our small businesses at City Hall, and push for a more responsive and engaged police presence. And I will support new investments in senior housing and improving the accessibility of our ward to our senior citizens.
As alderman, I will advocate for:
ENSURING THAT OUR STREETS ARE SAFE
Improved community policing in the 47th ward. Trust is at the core of effective policing and we must do more to strengthen community policing in our ward. I will advocate for a return to monthly CAPS meetings for Districts 19 and 20 and for officers to spend more time patrolling our neighborhoods on foot.
Investing in violence prevention and reduction. Our community cannot be an island – our safety is tied to safety across Chicago. That is why I will fight for expanded investments in programs to prevent violence. As a City Hall staffer, I played a central role in increasing the city’s investment in youth programs including afterschool programs, summer jobs, and mentoring programs by more than factor of three, from $21 million in 2011 to $77 million in 2018. I will advocate to expand upon these investments and work with the incoming mayor to support private and philanthropic support of programs that offer jobs, cognitive behavioral therapy, and social services to individuals at risk of being involved in gun violence like the READI Chicago initiative.
Re-examining the consolidation of the 19th police district. Since the city made the decision to consolidate the 19th and 23rd police districts in 2011, staffing in the combined 19th district has declined by 20% – from more than 460 officers in 2011 to roughly 370 officers today. I will work with the aldermen for the 32nd, 43rd. 44th, and 46th wards to advocate for the next mayor to examine the impact of this consolidation, increase manpower to make up for the drop in officers, and review the beat map to determine if we must redraw the lines to ensure a more visible police presence.
Advocate that the next mayor fully implement the federal consent decree. The City of Chicago and Illinois Attorney General negotiated and entered into a federal consent decree to require reform of the Chicago Police Department under the oversight of an independent monitor appointed by a federal judge. These reforms will cover a range of subjects from community policing to use of force to conflict de-escalation. I will advocate for the next mayor to fully cooperate with the independent monitor and next Illinois Attorney General as well as ensure that the required reforms are fully funded.
KEEPING OUR COMMUNITIES AFFORDABLE
Support a progressive income tax. Our state has one of the most regressive taxation systems in the country. I will support incoming Governor J.B. Pritzker’s proposal to establish a progressive income tax to ask more of our wealthiest residents while providing relief to working families.
Focus on preserving two- and three-flats. I will support efforts to preserve two- and three-flat buildings, including:
- Requiring developers of large residential projects to invest in preservation. He will develop an initiative that utilizes the existing Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) – which he helped modernize as a City Hall staffer – to keep rents manageable in multifamily buildings. He will work with the City’s Department of Planning and Development to require large 47th ward residential projects to preserve as affordable at least 15% of their units. Michael will support pairing this requirement with a tax incentive to fund regular maintenance within these buildings.
- Supporting tax relief for owner occupied apartment buildings. I will advocate for a new initiative with the incoming Cook County Assessor to offer predictable tax relief in the form of reduced assessments for owner occupied apartment buildings where the units are kept affordable.
- Advocating for a dedicated financing pool for preservation. I will work with aldermen representing wards that are losing two- and three-flats to advocate for the city to set aside affordable housing funds to help residents and nonprofits acquire these buildings to keep them affordable. Too often, these buildings are taken off the market quickly by well-financed developers because it takes longer for affordable buyers to pull the financing together.
Fight to strengthen tax relief for long-time residents. I will fight for state legislation to strengthen the long-term homeowner’s exemption. Currently, it applies to homeowners with annual incomes at or below $100,000 who have owned their homes for at least ten years. Unfortunately, the exemption ends up only being utilized by less than 2% of eligible homeowners in Cook County because it cannot be used in conjunction with other exemptions. I will support simplifying this exemption to make it a flat 5% ceiling on year-over-year property tax increases for eligible homeowners.
Expand the number of affordable units in large buildings. In recent years, many owners of large, older apartment buildings that have historically been affordable have raised rents in order to pay for costly maintenance. Earlier this year, the Community Investment Corporation announced a $30 million fund to provide lower cost borrowing to developers who agree to keep 20% of their units affordable for 15 years. I will push developers in the 47th ward to participate in this program. And I will also support State Rep. Sarah Feigenholtz’s bill HB 5865, which would provide tax incentives for building owners to keep units affordable.
Build new affordable units as part of new developments. For new large residential development projects that require a zoning change, I will mandate that the developers meet the required number of affordable units (typically 10%) either by building them on the site of the project or by buying and preserving existing housing units within the 47th ward.
Support amending the zoning code to allow for “granny flats.” The zoning code currently does not allow owners of single-family homes to easily rent out a basement, garage, or carriage house apartment unit. I will work to amend the zoning code to allow homeowners to rent out accessory dwelling units.
Develop a master zoning plan for the ward with community input. Too often, the residents of the 47th ward only discuss the future of development in the community when a specific project goes before a community meeting. By that point, it is too late for residents to do more than just negotiate over height or parking. Immediately upon taking office, I will lead a community process to develop a master zoning plan to develop a strategy for the ward in partnership with our community. This plan will include a focus on ensuring affordability throughout the ward.
SUPPORTING OUR SMALL BUSINESSES
Advocate for our neighborhood small businesses at City Hall. During my time as a staffer in City Hall, I worked closely with the commissioners and leadership teams for the city departments and. As alderman I will advocate for the businesses of the 47th ward by pushing City departments for the timely review and completion of licensing, permitting, and zoning change requests.
Further streamline the sign permit process. It remains too costly and complicated for businesses to install signs to promote their businesses to foot traffic. During my time at City Hall, I worked with the city’s business affairs and consumer protection department and the Small Business Advisory Council to make reforms that reduced the amount of time it takes to obtain a sign permit and exempt certain signs from the permit process. As alderman, I will support continued reforms to reduce cost and eliminate red tape.
Support small business lending programs. Access to capital is critical for new and growing businesses. I will advocate to continue successful programs like the city’s microlending effort and for new initiatives to fill in gaps for businesses.