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Is Beverly a village or a fortress on Chicago’s South Side?

The Beverly area warrants the descriptor “fortress” in part because of exclusionary zoning — the practice of inflating home prices through banning a wide range of housing types and residential lot arrangements.

A house in the Beverly neighborhood
A house in the Beverly neighborhood
Sun-Times file photo

Living in Beverly on Chicago’s South Side, I frequently hear the sentiment that the neighborhood is a “village” in the city. Quite to the contrary, however, I am coming to believe that the term “fortress” may be more fitting.

Many factors buttress the fortress metaphor, some benign and some nefarious. Clearly, there is the residency requirement that keeps city workers within city limits; but then there is also a history of systematic elimination of “Black” spaces; and perhaps most unmissable in the community are the number of curbs placed to separate Beverly from its majority-Black neighbors to the east.

The Beverly area also warrants the descriptor “fortress” in part because of exclusionary zoning, the practice of inflating home prices through banning a wide range of housing types and residential lot arrangements.

Common examples of exclusionary zoning include banning multifamily housing, requiring generous minimum lot sizes and imposing residential minimum square footage requirements.

There are numerous ways Beverly employs these tactics. Among others, our inordinate leveraging of RS-1 zoning, the alderman’s history of downzoning and the community’s track record of resisting development all play a role in creating this “fortress” in the city.

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The result of exclusionary zoning is a subversion of market forces. While the market demands more diversity of housing types at a greater range of price points, exclusionary zoning works through government regulation to homogenize and stymie supply side forces. This creates a community that is less environmentally sustainable, less family friendly and unrepresentative of the city to which it belongs.

It is no secret that Beverly has not done its part to provide affordable housing. The Chicago Housing Authority has declared the community a “mobility area” and the Illinois Housing Development Authority similarly an “opportunity area.” Yet the neighborhood has zero affordable housing and is known to be markedly unfriendly to residents with housing choice vouchers.

I aspire to live in a neighborhood that seeks to be a responsible citizen within the city it belongs.

There are signs that exclusionary zoning’s days are numbered: the federal government may dis-incentivize the practice, states are banning it and our own city is considering greater equity across neighborhoods.

As I raise my children in Beverly, I hope to tell them that our neighborhood was on the right side of history in tearing down the fortress walls.

Scott Kibler, Beverly

Security hack has Trump’s fingerprints

It must be noted that, if a major security hack like the current presumably Russian-authored one had been executed during the previous administration, the Republicans and the right wing would have been skewering President Obama.

Since President Trump has a proclivity — when he fills positions at all — to appoint people with a preference for personal loyalty to him over competence, this hack, the full damaging extent of which may not be known for years, has his fingerprints all over it.

Curt Fredrikson, Mokena