Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed a 2012 budget that addresses the city’s projected $635 million budget gap through a mix of cuts, streamlining and fees, including a $2 parking fee on downtown garages and an increase in water rates.
Where We Stand
If there is an upside to the economic recession, it’s that it is forcing each of us, including our elected officials, to ask more pointed questions about our economic future: How do we invest in our communities to attract jobs, manage costs for families, protect the environment, and improve quality of life? What can we all do to be more efficient with our resources – natural, financial and otherwise? How can we encourage better coordination between the public and private sectors? It’s clear these kinds of questions were on the front burner as Mayor Emanuel and his staff crafted a budget that addresses revenue shortfalls, while striving to protect Chicagoans' quality of life and create conditions for job growth.
MPC fully supports the mayor’s proposals for a $2 parking fee on drivers parking in downtown parking garages and lots, and a 25 percent increase in water rates in 2012, with a 15 percent increase in rates each of the following three years.
With congestion costing Chicago area residents more than $7.3 billion a year, the parking fee, designed to encourage and improve transit use, is welcome news. A variation of congestion pricing, the $2 fee provides a transportation choice: Pay a fee to park in Chicago’s congested downtown, or take transit. Importantly, revenues generated by this fee will support transit improvements, including a new CTA station and express bus service downtown, as well as bike infrastructure. MPC is in favor of this fee specifically because it supports concurrent transit improvements – a good example of coherent public policy.
Likewise, the increase in water rates will allow the city to put some 18,000 people to work over the next 10 years, repairing and modernizing Chicago’s aged water system, of which some 75 percent of pipes are more than 75 years old. In his latest post on MPC’s blog, The Connector, Josh Ellis, MPC project manager, notes that residents who have taken steps to monitor their water use by installing a water meter through the city’s voluntary MeterSave program won't see their rates increased.
MPC supports each of these new fees as innovative ways to raise much-needed revenue to maintain and improve Chicago’s critical water and transportation infrastructure, create good jobs, and strengthen the entire region's competitive edge.
Project Progress Report: Employer-Assisted Housing
With MPC’s assistance, employer-city parterships in metropolitan Chicago and around the country are using employer-assisted housing (EAH) programs to support community redevelopment, particularly in the wake of foreclosures.
Thirty-five miles northwest of Chicago, family-owned OTTO Engineering has been manufacturing switch and radio accessories out of its Carpentersville location for 43 years. OTTO, which employs 160 people, is launching an EAH program in October that will complement the company’s ongoing efforts to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed and abandoned buildings in the community. Remarkably, the company is extending this assistance not only to its own employees, but to any employee of any company in Carpentersville.
“Carpentersville is our home, and we want to contribute to a strong, vibrant community,” said OTTO President Tom Roeser. “We are delighted to help our employees live in town and attain the dream of homeownership.”
Evanston-based Northwestern University also has recently announced a pilot EAH program to help employees buy foreclosed homes being redeveloped and put back on the market through the City of Evanston’s LiveEvanston program. In Philadelphia, through the Home Buy Now program, the city is providing matching grants of up to $4,000 to employees who receive grants or forgivable loans from a participating employer, such as Drexel University, one of the city’s anchor institution and the first employer to step up to the plate. Last but certainly not least, as the City of Chicago and Mercy Portfolio Services work to acquire, rehab and resell foreclosed homes through the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Chicago employers are encouraged to start and/or link their EAH programs to this neighborhood redevelopment strategy.
Contact MPC for assistance designing an EAH program.
Principles of Placemaking
Drumroll, please! MPC is pleased to announce the winner of our Placemaking apps contest is … Mi Parque!
Residents of Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood on the city’s southwest side are working to transform a 23-acre capped Superfund site into a vibrant, open green space for all of its residents to enjoy and make their own. Now, they have technology on their side: Mi Parque, a web and smartphone application that helps residents of the community contribute and share their vision for the future of Little Village’s new park. The application has won MPC’s $2,500 Placemaking award, sponsored by IBM, in the Apps for Metro Chicago Illinois contest.
MPC and IBM were thrilled to present this award on Monday, Oct. 17, to a team of all-female developers, led by Pallavi Anderson from Motorola Solutions and Mindy Faber from Open Youth Networks at Columbia College Chicago. This group of student and professional women techies harnessed the power of open data and technology by creating an app for participatory community building. We’re also pleased that Mi Parque will help support the ongoing efforts of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO). The organization has been working for more than 10 years to create a park in Little Village, which has the least green space per capita of any Chicago neighborhood. At the request of the Mi Parque development team, the $2,500 prize will go to LVEJO.
Emerging contaminants, emerging solutions (recap of Sept. 15 roundtable)
Housing & Transportation
MPC in the News
Water-meter pitch may not be such a bad deal after all
DeKalb measures up well in collecting water data without state help
Proposed parking taxes meant to decrease congestion
Rahm's first budget: Hotel tax hike, library hours cut, parking fees up
Mass Transit Languishes. What's New?
Charlotte, NC, Chicago Host Infrastructure Forums
America at a Loss for Transportation Funds
Will American Paranoia Stifle Road Repairs?
News of Interest
Challenging Markets, Innovative Financing
The state of transit trackers in Chicago
Washington Square Park + Piano = Joy
The Cost of Congestion, the Value of Transit
Libertyville, IL: "Where Small Houses Mean Brisk Sales"
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