March Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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March Media Tips

Ripped from the Headlines 

MPC supports proposals to fund, reform much-needed Illinois capital investments
As Illinois lawmakers ramp up discussion about a long-overdue state capital investment plan to maintain and improve roads, bridges and transit – partially funded by a proposed increase in the state motor fuel tax – MPC continues to push for HB 2359, recently introduced by Ill. Rep. Kathy Ryg (D-Vernon Hills), which would fundamentally change how the state selects transportation projects for funding.  MPC supports the increase of the motor fuel tax (HB 1) provided it is coupled with accountability measures that will ensure smart spending of limited transportation dollars. MPC will not support any proposal to raise revenue for transportation capital that does not include the necessary policy reforms intended by HB 2359, which would strengthen coordinated regional planning and make it clearer how money is being spent and how taxpayers will benefit.  To learn more about HB 2359 and MPC’s position on a gas tax hike and other potential funding sources for Illinois’ capital investment plan, please contact MPC Vice President Peter Skosey, at 312-863-6004 or

Pigeons or people? MPC working with Wicker Park, Bucktown residents to improve Polish Triangle
The Polish Triangle, a triangular slab of concrete at the intersection of Ashland Avenue, Division Street, and Milwaukee Avenue, in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, is a prime roosting spot for local pigeons. MPC is teaming up with WPB (the Special Service Area for Wicker Park and Bucktown) and with local residents and businesses to transform it into a great gathering place for people. Residents are invited to share their ideas for the space at an open house on Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 1275 N. Milwaukee Ave. This is MPC’s first Placemaking project, to show that great community planning starts when residents create a vision. To learn more, contact MPC Associate Karin Sommer, at 312-863-6044 or

Chicago-area communities joining forces to address foreclosures
More than 30,000 families in northeastern Illinois have lost their homes to foreclosure in the past year alone. In fall 2008, the federal government responded with the nearly $4 billion Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) – including about $172.5 million for various jurisdictions in Illinois, including the State itself, which last week released its Request for Proposals (RFP). Two clusters of communities, in South and West suburban Cook County, are working together to submit joint requests to target NSP dollars to mixed-income communities near transit lines and job centers. To learn more, read this op-ed by MPC Vice President of Community Development Robin Snyderman, or contact her at 312-863-6007 or

Behind the Numbers

While predatory lending helped drive the foreclosure crisis, a lack of coordinated planning also played a role. As families drove further and further from the region’s center to find homes at bargain prices, many did not factor in the second-largest household expense: transportation. MPC believes the region should develop and redevelop in places where people have access to good jobs and transportation choices, including transit, to avoid repeating this mistake. Here’s why:                                

  • Traffic costs metropolitan Chicago $7.3 billion, according to MPC’s 2008 report, Moving at the Speed of Congestion. We can help individuals, the region, and our state save money by connecting residential, commercial and transportation development.
  • Transit helps families stretch their budgets. This chart from Reconnecting America shows transportation and housing costs account for 41 percent of household expenses for families living near transit, 51 percent for average American families, and 57 percent for families living in auto-dependent neighborhoods.
  • Land near transit stops holds its value better, and is 8 to 30 percent more valuable than other land, according to this Planetizen article.

Dates to Watch 

MPC has moved to 140 S. Dearborn St., Suite 1400, Chicago 60603. Stay tuned for details about our upcoming office warming, and please update your address book. 

11: Chicago Transit Authority Board meeting
13: Metra Board meeting
19: Regional Transportation Authority Board meeting
20: MPC 2009 Legislative Forum and Media Briefing
At an MPC legislative forum, from noon to 1:30 p.m., at Mayer Brown LLP, 71 S. Wacker Dr., Chicago, Senate President John J. Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) will discuss state legislative priorities related to MPC’s work. Prior to the luncheon forum, from 11:30 a.m. to noon, reporters are invited to a private media briefing on MPC’s 2009 policy agenda, Planning for Prosperity. The policy agenda will be available on an embargoed basis the week of March 16. Learn more and register for the forum and media briefing by contacting MPC Assistant Communications Director Mandy Burrell Booth, at or 312-863-6018.
26: Illinois Tollway Board meeting 
April 16: House Regional Capital Hearing, North suburbs, location TBD. 

For more events, visit MPC’s Web Calendar. For more story ideas, and contact information for MPC experts, visit our Newsroom.

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