City considers moving up effective date of zoning ordinance due to interest from aldermen who want to use the code.
After approving a new zoning code
for the city of Chicago on May 26, 2004, the City Council is discussing
the possibility of moving up the effective date of the code from November 1
new code replaces the outdated 1957 code, which began racking up complaints
from neighborhood groups during the building boom in the 1990s. The old code
permitted buildings out of scale with their surroundings and even had Lincoln
Park, the city’s most treasured open space, zoned for high-density residential
It took four long years, but the
Mayor’s Zoning Reform Commission has brought the code up to modern standards. The new code
reflects their efforts to go beyond a typical zoning ordinance (which, at the simplest
level, dictates how large a building can be and where it must sit on the
property), to adopting principles that address community character in Chicago’s
neighborhoods. The new code protects Chicago’s best pedestrian-oriented shopping
streets from drive-throughs and curb cuts. In struggling retail areas, it allows
the market to decide whether the ground floor will be commercial or residential.
The new code encourages affordable housing by requiring developers using the
density bonus system in the downtown area to use the affordable housing density
The new code is also easier to
read than the lengthy, legalistic style of the 1957 code. The new code features
illustrations to help decipher complex development regulations and is fully
available via the Internet.
Residents can find the code at
Now that the text is complete and legally passed,
however, the urgency shifts to the mapping process — that is,
deciding where all of the new rules will apply in the neighborhoods.
Neighborhood residents, in conjunction with their alderman, should begin
discussing how the new code will impact their neighborhoods.