By AARON GETTINGER
Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) said that Mayor Lori Lightfoot told her the Community Benefits Agreement ordinance would pass before Jan. 1, and Taylor is optimistic that a Monday meeting with the city departments of Planning and Development, Law and Housing will move the ordinance out of committee.
She and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) introduced introduced a CBA ordinance in July that would create affordable housing requirements inside a 2-mile radius around the designated Obama Presidential Center site in Jackson Park. The bill has not moved forward since then; Hairston said last month that their ordinance needed to be revised.
The mayor has “called me and basically said, ‘I’m making a commitment to make sure this gets passed before the year is over,’” Taylor said. “And they’re doing that. There’s just some details to work out. They’re a new administration, I’m a new alderman, and it’s taking a lot longer than I anticipated. But what I hear from my colleagues is, sometimes the best work takes longer.
“I’ve said to them, ‘I don’t have time, because people from my community are being displaced as we speak.’ So, let’s move as soon as possible.”
Taylor said three meetings earlier this month were not productive. She said those meetings were attended by area renters and homeowners, Housing Commissioner Marissa Novara, Planning Commissioner Maurice Cox, Hairston, Pastor Byron T. Brazier of the Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S. Dorchester Ave. (who came out against the aldermen’s ordinance last month), Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative CEO Ghian Foreman and representatives from the Obama Foundation, the CBA Coalition and the University of Chicago.
“It didn’t seem like we were communicating around what was the expectation of the meeting,” Taylor said, “for us to look at the CBA, for the city to tell me what they agreed or what they didn’t agree with and what was legal and what was illegal.”
“Nothing was getting done,” Taylor said, adding that some attendees felt disconnected from the departmental representatives and the legislative process.
Hairston said some in the CBA Coalition did not understand the legal issues she says undercut the ordinance as it stands. Taylor said she decided the process could not go forward unless she met with Novara, Cox, Hairston and the Law Department.
“We’re looking to have that conversation on Monday,” Taylor said, adding that lawyers from the CBA Coalition also will attend the meeting she said was scheduled for 1 p.m. at City Hall.
“I hope that it accomplishes a clarification as to why some things are possibly not legal and provides a better understanding as to the reasoning why,” Hairston said. “Some of the stuff amounts to a taking of private property without compensation. That can’t be done.
“We want to achieve the best balance for the whole community. From what I have heard at the meetings, there are residents in Woodlawn — homeowners — who felt that they had not been heard as of yet. Now they are having their voices heard, and I think that’s a positive thing.”
“It is not the Mayor’s Office coming out with something,” Hairston said. “This will be the result of input from people who actually live in the neighborhood.”
Lightfoot did not respond to request for comment.