Hairston urges patience on revised CBA proposal

Ald. Leslie Hairston (Herald file photo)

Staff writer

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) sounded a conciliatory note when reached Monday for comment about the Community Benefits Agreement proposal: “When you’ve talking about protecting people, there’s often a long fight.”

The measure’s other primary sponsor, Ald. Jeanette Taylor’s (20th), has shown her frustration with the legislative process for the lack of progress of their CBA proposal.

The two introduced the CBA ordinance to City Council in July, but not much action has been taken on it. Taylor cried foul when the Housing Committee passed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s pilot designed to increase homeownership rates in gentrifying neighborhoods on Friday, even though it has not considered the CBA ordinance.

Hairston recalled the long time her legislation to create an Independent Citizen Police Monitor waited in limbo before coming up for a vote — the Council eventually created then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, instead of Hairston’s proposal — and the time it is taking for Ald. Sophia King’s minimum wage increase to come before the Council.

Hairston said, however, that having “all voices at the table” to draft the ordinance — something the CBA Coalition said they did in response to former President Barack Obama’s reluctance to support a CBA, saying he did not want to privilege certain groups over others — “slows down the process, especially since we’ve got now a new administration with new people.”

Lightfoot had campaigned on support for an OPC CBA, but she has not weighed in on the ordinance Hairston and Taylor introduced that a majority of aldermen are cosponsoring.

Hairston alluded to legal issues with the ordinance as it is currently written, though she declined to list specific terms that she thinks are over the line. But she said Taylor and the CBA Coalition are aware of her concerns.

She did say that the CBA ordinance would need to be revised to treat different parts of its coverage area — everything within 2 miles of the OPC site in the 5th and 20th wards — differently. The CBA ordinance currently calls for 30% of new housing to be set aside as affordable and proposes a right of first refusal for tenants, as well as calling for other housing and jobs items.

Hairston said a revised ordinance would not apply the same policies across the whole area, recalling that Woodlawn has a preponderance of vacant land — the ordinance earmarks city-owned vacant land for affordable housing and locally owned homes — compared with other areas, which also differ in the number of renters compared with homeowners.

“You’ve got different communities with different demographics, which I’ve been saying all along, and these systems have to be looked at individually. We have to craft legislation that addresses each of the issues in those areas,” Hairston said. “The demographics of Woodlawn are different than the demographics of South Shore which are different than the demographics of Hyde Park.”