Archive for January, 2012

Metra Permit Parking Meeting and Ward Council Meeting #3 Notes

Hello Neighbors,

We had tentatively scheduled an East Ravenswood Neighbors meeting for January 30. However, the Ward Office has schedule the Metra area permit parking meeting for that evening. Permit parking is first on the table in 2012 and since we live near the train tracks, this will affect many of us, if not all. If you can, please attend the permit parking meeting to learn more and voice your opinion. The dates are confusing on the website, so I am contacting the office to clarify. Keep checking the Alderman’s website for more information. This is the most recent information I have for the meeting:
Monday, January 30th, 6:30pmBethany Retirement Community 4950 N. Ashland

If you have any questions please call the ward office at 773-868-4747 or email

Notes from Ward Council, Meeting 3, Tuesday, January 17th.

Linda Wilson (East Ravenswood Rep Alternate) and I attended the third 47th Ward Council meeting on January 17. These are my notes.
Alderman Pawar spoke for about half an hour.
Protests, Parades, and Assemblies
An ordinance was passed in advance of the upcoming G8/NATO meetings, which gives the police more power to intervene in protests. Some Chicagoans are angry because they weren’t included in the discussion. If you want to protest, let the Alderman and Mayor’s Office know–they can answer your questions for legality. If you can’t afford liability insurance, the city will waive the fees but you have to get clearance first. The Alderman’s office will be sending out an email about the G8/NATO events that will be occurring this summer.
Redistricting and Remapping
A compromise map passed on Tuesday. The district is changing very little, but the 47th Ward will probably shrink by about 2,500 people. The whole city lost 200,000 people and the City Council is looking to have fair representation. In every version of the map, there is a cut at Ainslie or Winnemac. The Black Caucus map cuts at Lawrence, and was more popular. It preserved North Center as a whole–the other map would cut the southern part of the ward and the northern part. The Alderman said remapping is “all politics,” and he had to play it that way to keep up working relationships. Many other wards are getting even more distorted–this ward may be changing the least citywide. He said he’s being strategic to negotiate. Constituent groups or citzen groups may force a referendum, which would be very expensive. In terms of services, we’re moving to a grid-based systems so the remap shouldn’t affect that. The Alderman now represents your “interests,” not so much services anymore. Redistricting happens ever 10 years after the census to comply with the Voting Rights Act. If there is interest, Ald. Pawar may put put together a special meeting to explain the changes. The TIFs for Chappell and Amundsen will be affected but students that go to those schools still live in the ward. The Mariano’s/Ravenswood Station project could be in the 40th Ward, but again not for 10 years. But these remapping lines won’t effect voting until 2015.
Permit Parking (Presented by Bill Higgins, 47th Ward Transportation Expert)
The Alderman wanted to figure out the state of permit parking before making changes, because changes were made without notice as he came into office. In 1930–3.3 million people in the city, few cars. Now 2.6m, with over 1 million cars, so there are pros and cons to permits. Ald. Pawar put together a Transportation Committee last August, with a permit parking task force to deal with the 13 residential permit parking zones including LV2 (Cubs Night Game parking) in the ward.
Goals/Steps for the Committee:
1. Rationalize the neighborhood parking zones
2. Criteria for approval policy of residential permit parking, inc.uding surrounding blocks and busineesses
3. Interpreting input from neighbors
4. Alderman approval and implementation.
They’re looking at grouping the zones into permit parking regions. So, for instance, they’d combine Lincoln Square permits into same number. The hours of enforcement would vary within each area. They’re planning to do an annual review. 65 percent of blocks must in favor of changes. All units including non owners especially for a major event like at Wrigley field. They want to finalize this before city stickers need to be purchased. They may start by consolidating in Lincoln Square and Metra this year and others next year. The permit policy is on the website, as well as new  procedures for a block to get together and change or improve the permits. Bill Higgins is in charge of this project ( at the Alderman’s office and will join at your meeting to discuss all the changes and they are holding public hearings now for the different areas to explain. They strongly urge you to attend if it will effect you.In Area 5, they are going to combine permit parking for the part of the area close to Metra. This will be from Lawrence to Wilson along Ravenswood to Paulina. If you are in a corner building you will probably be included but they didn’t go into the specifics. They said they would explain it at the Metra Permit Parking meeting.
Block Audits
The Alderman’s office is asking block clubs to do “block audits” to give the ward office an overall picture of the block, to help find out what is happening as it’s happening so they can better implement city services and workshops. They passed out surveys for the block audits but they will be revising them. Questions on the audit include, how many single family homes on your block, how many neighbors above 65, etc. They’d like to have each block accounted by April. Volunteers from each block of our area will be needed to thoroughly report the information.
The vast majority of the crime in the ward is property crime. If you see something suspicious call 911 and let them make the decision. It’s better to call than not. The more feedback the better. Our CAPS officer will most likely change after the merger of police districts. We always should have a representative at CAPS meetings. The email to send questions to is:
There is a new system that the new Police Chief is implementing called COMPSTAT. This system drills down and holds commanders accountable based on data. There has been no beat realignmenet in 40 years. That’s going to change soon based on crime patterns. There will always be at least one car in our beat. If they go off to respond, there will be a roving car to back them up. After the merger, we’ll have the second-most amount of police coverage in the city. The Alderman’s office is looking for a community liason between the alderman’s office and the police. They’re looking for a direct line from their office to continue a conversation and be able to hold someone accountable.If you call 911, the police report may get changed to 311. This is okay. You want to be able to be proactive, and keep officers on the street for more effective policing. You can follow up with your CAPS office to find out what happened. There are court assistance for the community who can show up at trials–that helps the trials.
Odds and Ends
Mayor Emanuel has been making a lot of public information available (see Ald. Pawar is going to Google camp with city CIO John Tolva to learn about changes to Open 311. Google technology has created a system  so we can proactively spot and react to crime trends.
The next Ward Council meeting is Tuesday, March 6th.

Changes to Condominium Refuse Rebate Program

A letter from the Alderman (APPLICATIONS ARE DUE 1.31.12 for 2011):


Dear Neighbor,

Please be aware that the Committee on Finance has made changes to the Condominium Refuse Rebate program based on the 2012 budget.  Read the details below and if you have any questions do not hesitate to contact Jim Poole in my office at 773-549-4462 or

The most important change to note is that applications and supporting documentation for 2011 should be dropped-off at our office or emailed (pdf) to Jim no later than January 31, 2012.  Ideally we would like to have them before next week’s council meeting on the 18th, but since this change is taking effect so quickly you can turn in the forms to us until the 31st for refuse costs incurred during 2011.  Any form turned in after January 31, 2012 will not be accepted.  

In addition, no additional units will be added to the condo refuse rebate program.  Only owner-occupied units that received one or more rebates between January 1, 2009 and November 9, 2011 will be eligible for a rebate going forward.   If you fail to turn in your rebate before January 31 you will not be eligible for future rebates.  No exceptions can be made.
Large management companies should have already been alerted to this.  To read a full list of changes please click here.  As always, applications are available through the Committee on Finance’s website.



Beat 1922 CAPS Meeting is coming up!

February 8, 2012 7:00 pm
Venue: Chase Park Field House
Address: 4701 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL, United States

Mariano’s Meeting Recap

Happy New Year! I know it’s been awhile so I hope that everyone had a lot of fun during the holiday season…
On December 19th, I attended the third and final community meeting about the proposed Sears Lot development, including the Mariano’s grocery store. Here are my notes, which generally reflect the proposals and pitch from the developers and Alderman Pawar–not necessarily my own views. By the third meeting, the developers had already responded to many of the neighbors requests, which is great!

Financing: Tax Increment Financing (TIF) will provide $3.3 million to this $42 million development.* The area currently generates $100,000 in taxes–once developed, the Alderman says, it would provide $1m in taxes distributed to schools and other city agencies. The TIF would be paid back in 5 years. Some of the TIF money will pay for the “road diet”(see below) necessary for the construction.

Community partnership: The Alderman and the developers, Barrett & Porto, have brought the plan to the community to address issues. One concern from neighbors was increasing pedestrian friendliness. The project has evolved significantly over the past five years, responding to community concerns and changing drawings, including during the past few months. The developer’s goal is to partner with the community–for instance, they are pledging $250,000 for a local urban agriculture project and $100k for a public school in the ward. They are also creating a shuttle bus for seniors when they open which is proposed for Spring 2013. There are 60 contracts associated with the project. They’ll partner with the Chamber of Commerce, and ideally get local bids. There are significant employment opportunities: 200 retail jobs employing people within 2 miles of store.

The developers have split up the Sears Lot into two parcels of land. Retail will be near Lawrence Ave. and residential set away from tracks on the northern end. Construction projects will happen sequentially. The hope is to start construction Spring 2012–groundbreaking by July, open in March 2013, incrementally.

Mariano’s Development: The core of the development is a Mariano’s, a new (to Chicago) grocery chain. The store’s approach is a customer-friendly collection of boutique areas, hand picked fresh produce, and open large windows for transparency. The development would have a cafe and other retail stores on the ground floor–a total of 35,000 square feet of retail. It will have parking on the roof and the grocery store will be on the 2nd floor. They are also trying to attract a health club operator and other small stores. Sears auto center will renovate and inhabit 10,000 sq ft behind the Mariano’s store. It is a LEED-rated design, and the hope is that it will stimulate the economy.

Parking and traffic: There is a traffic distinction between the street and the parking lot. It will have 160 parking spots on the street level, and nearly 200 on the roof (357 total stalls). They are working with Metra and the Alderman’s office to create a pedestrian flow and streetscape. Some of it will be covered to get to Metra from Wolcott. It will have a signaled intersection, center turn lane, and a bicycle storage area under a covered sidewalk. They are changing Lawrence to one lane each way, widening the sidewalk and bike lane. They’re also adding a center turn lane from Western to Clark. These changes, called a “Road Diet,” are aimed at stimulating community and economy.

Residential vs. Commercial: Residential development is still on the table. But this development is part of the Alderman’s plan to move beyond homeowners for city revenue, to get large commercial owners to help pay for taxes and relieve the burden of homeowners. This extends the Lawrence Avenue commercial area to diversify the tax base, and would potentially increase the value of homes.

Residential developers: Belgravia Group is the potential developer. They have $3B in development properties. The residential unit would be 125,000 sq feet–similar to Alta Vista Terrace. A ratio of 0.7 parking spots per resident. The buildings will be six-flats on two sides. They’ll have a mansionette feel but would house 6 families, similar to many of the six-flats already in Ravenswood. There will be one larger elevator building with five floors on the east side of the development, so there is no shadow on the neighboring buildings. Potential rent is $1200 for one bedroom and under $2,000 for two bedroom. It would be about $835 average for affordable housing. They would have guest parking on one side of the street, with a resident parking lot accessed through a gateway on the other side of the buildings. They’ve shifted the lot away from the tracks for acoustics. They would be dog-friendly buildings, with a dog run in back and laundry in the basement. They expect to hold this as a rental building for the long term, with no anticipation of condo conversion.

***Note from Rebecca: I shared some comments regarding Area 5’s perspective–from our meeting at All Saint’s it seemed that neighbors are supportive of the grocery store, but many are concerned about the development making an already difficult parking situation worse. 

The Alderman and developer’s response: Because of the potential spillover effects, permit parking will be available. The lot will be monitored and towing will occur. Adding an additional parking level would cost $7m and increase liability insurance, in addition to being expensive to maintain. A revamp of permit parking is also on the table for the entire area around the Metra station.They are not thinking all-day permits, just making it consistent throughout the areas. For instance, “morning-only,” or something like that…it still needs to get figured out.

In fact, permit parking is one of the major items on the agenda for the next Ward Council meeting (Tuesday, January 17, 6:45pm – 8:15pm at Bethany United Church of Christ, 4250 N. Paulina – Fellowship Hall – downstairs).

Our last East Ravenswood Neighbors meeting covered everything that is in the current agenda (because the Mariano’s discussion replaced the meeting we prepared for). So our next block club meeting will be on Monday, January 30–details to come in a few weeks. In the meantime, please feel free to email me with any more thoughts about permit parking–or come to the Ward Council meeting on the 17th.

*Two primers on TIFs: