Chicago ‘coach house ordinance’ threatens neighborhoods with overcrowding, noise, rats and higher taxes

Supporters claim the aim is to increase the amount of affordable housing, but it’s really about making money for developers.

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A proposed change in Chicago’s zoning code, writes a Sun-Times reader, would open the door for owners or developers to buy single family homes, two-flats and three-flats and add more units, to the detriment of many neighborhoods.

Sun-Times Media

A proposed change to Chicago’s zoning code, supported by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, is described euphemistically as an “Amendment of Municipal Code Titles 2, 4 and 17 regarding affordable dwelling units.”

Affordable housing is really only a tiny part of the changes.

SEND LETTERS TO: Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

Essentially, this change, drafted by Ald. Matt Martin, 47th, and Harry Osterman, 48th, would remove most zoning restrictions for single family homes, two-flats and three-flats, allowing for the building of new dwelling units, including in rear cottages, back additions and attics. Currently these are not allowed to prevent overcrowding. Parking requirements for new construction also would be removed, as well as requirements for the sizes of backyards and setbacks.

Essentially, this is an open door for existing owners or developers to buy single family homes, two-flats and three-flats and add more units.

The only “affordable housing” component is that if two or more units are added, then one would have to be registered as affordable housing and rented for no more than a formulaic amount, currently $1,069. This makes for good publicity, but we all know the city’s track record on enforcement of code.

My block is filled with illegal basement apartments. The city does nothing about it.

The current code was designed to keep density from getting too high in any one neighborhood. There are neighborhoods that could use new housing, and the mayor and City Council should focus there efforts there, not on cramming more people into a small area.

Think about the quality of life on your block as the density grows. The available parking is reduced. There’s an increase in trash and noise. There’s a lack of space for garbage carts, which then overflow, feeding rats.

This isn’t fantasy. It has happened around me from illegal apartments.

This proposed zoning change would do little to create “affordable” housing. It would be a boon to real estate investors while destroying the quality of life for current residents.

This zoning change is being fast tracked to take effect in August. I suggest that you contact your alderman and tell them to cancel this real estate development plan. Write the mayor.

Jeffrey Rovner, West Rogers Park

McConnell clueless on unemployment

Sen. Mitch McConnell has a lot of gall opposing extended unemployment payments in the next stimulus package because they might be a “disincentive” for laid-off workers to return to their jobs or seek other work.

Yes, some workers are receiving more than their low-paid jobs normally bring in. But they, like millions of other furloughed workers, know that this is temporary. When this pandemic is over, having steady employment will be essential to their well being and that of their families. For many, the loss of a job also has meant a loss of health insurance.

As a member of Congress, McConnell enjoys a handsome, steady income, the best of medical care and many other perks, courtesy of the taxpayers. Maybe Congress needs to be furloughed for a few months so that Mighty Mitch and those who think like him can get a taste of what it’s like to be unemployed.

Dan McGuire, Bensenville

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