Quarterly Town Hall 12/17, Recording and Q&A

Watch: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=442686366723853

On December 17th, 2020, Alderman Vasquez hosted an online Fourth Quarter Townhall for the 40th Ward. The recording is available online here:


Questions submitted ahead of time and in the chat during the call are posted below, along with answers from the Alderman’s office:


My question is, if permit parking is expanded on Rosehill, will I be able to get a permit? I am unable to get a zone permit now, since our building is not on Rosehill (the electric substation is  just south of us). But that is the only place we are able to park, since there is no parking on Ravenswood.

Adding any new addresses to an existing zone, or creating a new zone of Residential Zoned Parking, requires a petition process. However, Letters of Exception are available for people who live directly adjacent to the edge of a parking zone. (See the 2021 Parking Improvement Opportunities mentioned in this presentation for our eligibility recommendations)


We noticed a slight uptick in homeless folks in the North Branch Trail park, in our area, over the last 1/2 year. It fluctuates, and people deserve kindness, but some of the persons and ad hoc shelters can be a bit menacing. It’s not a chronic issue yet, just wondering what the 40th Ward position is on addressing the issue: leave them alone and let them proliferate? (like under the bridge at Lawrence and Lakeshore). Attempt to relocate? Encourage neighbors to call the police? Don’t call the police? The park is such an important resource for the community.

The Ward office can help connect unhoused persons with city support services and with local food pantries and other resources, so please contact us! You can also call 311 to request that Department of Family and Support Services send an outreach worker. Do not call police unless it is a public safety issue — being unhoused or on the public right-of-way is not illegal, and police are not trained or equipped to provide support services.


Are there city tree trimming services available? We’ve tried getting that through the 311 website service request system with no response. Limbs from parkway trees are getting pretty close to our roof and could cause damage if they break free. Is that solely the responsibility of the property owner? Thanks.

311 is the correct place for those requests, but the Bureau of Forestry is currently working with a significant backlog — they’ve seen substantial cuts to their staffing budget in previous years, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19 cases and quarantines in 2020. Forestry crews have to prioritize emergency situations and fulfill other requests as time allows. 


Is there an SSA that can manage the cleaning of the roundabouts on Francisco street. They collect trash like crazy. We’ve actually biked to them and cleared the trash on 2 occasions on our own over the last year, but it would be nice if that was managed by others more regularly. Between Foster + Bryn Mawr, on Francisco.

There is not an SSA on Francisco, but please let the Ward office (info@40ward.org)  know areas that are chronic issues and we can have Streets & Sanitation send a crew.



Mayor Lightfoot ran on a platform stating Chicago businesses and residents were over ticketed and fined.  In the last 2 years I have witnessed a huge uptick in violations being written by the same inspectors who rarely found violations at the same sites.  The water department is impossible to deal with.  Collection law firms working for the city are bullies in dealing with people.  The zoning department treats everyone like they have a secret agenda.  It doesn’t have to be this way and it hurts the small business.  Q: What is the Mayor doing to make Chicago more business friendly when it comes to working with businesses instead of against them?

Our office has been working with the City Clerk and city departments to try and streamline and modernize City processes, including BACP permitting, which should be rolling out a fully-digital portal for most permitting in 2021. Ald. Vasquez is also a member of the Fines & Fees Justice Collaborative, which is a grassroots partnership with the City Clerk’s office working on reforms to City ticketing practices. 


This year’s City budget and budgeting process was far from the just budget our communities need. What is your strategy to build momentum for a better negotiating position and better budget for 2022? (including working with other alders) 

One key component will be working groups of Aldermen drafting substantial revenue reforms well in advance of budget season — one reason the budget was as harsh as it was this year is that City Council failed to bring forward substantial new proposals to help fill the dire budget gap caused by COVID and the hit to existing City revenue streams like entertainment, hotel, and gas taxes. 

We also have the ability to use newly created allocations to increase fundings for programs that didn’t have their own dedicated line item, such as the non-police emergency response team pilot. Many programs that were piloted in 2020 or are being piloted in 2021 will be eligible for funding (and funding increases) in future budgets. 


What is being done about the two incidents of vandalism to auto windshield glass, one about two weeks ago to cars on Oakley north of Peterson, and just last week to more cars near Western and Ardmore?

Individuals who are the victims of crimes should contact CPD directly for details of those investigations — not all information can be made publicly available while investigations are ongoing.


Concerning the Misericordia group homes project, which was approved by the Chicago Plan Commission earlier today, my questions are twofold: 

(1)  Where will there be parking for the employees who currently park on the land that is to be used for the group homes?

(2)  Where will there be parking for the dozens of new employees hired for the group homes?

Misericordia’s proposal to remove City streets/parking was rejected during community review and was not included in the Planned Development. Street parking is not changing, but the new group homes will be served by a central drive and small pull-over spaces within the development. Misericordia has over 300 off-street parking spots on their existing property, including dedicated staff parking spaces. 


Can Andre look at a possible stop sign installed at Foster and Hoyne?

We are not able to add a stop sign at Hoyne, as Foster is a federal highway at that location and already has signalized crossings at each intersection immediately east and west (Damen and Leavitt). 


Thank you for everything you do for the ward! Is there an update regarding the Peterson/Ridge Metra station construction? Thank you again.

Metra’s contractor has been selected and is setting up their site office and has applied for permits, which are still in review at the state level. Some preliminary site clearing is being done over winter but major construction starts next spring. 


I’ve seen some non-residential buildings put leaves into the street illegally – usually done by outside contractors. These people need to be instructed on the law.

It is illegal to sweep yard waste into the streets/gutters. Please bag yard waste and set it curbside, and request a yard waste pickup by Streets and Sanitation using the 311 system!


There does not seem to be a schedule for streets like Lincoln for street cleaning. Because of this it does not get cleaned well because of cars.

Street sweeping has ended for 2020, but we will post the 2021 schedule on the Streets & Sanitation section of our website when it becomes available. Arterial street such as Lincoln are included in street sweeping sections, but different sections of the street may be covered on different days depending on which section they fall within. 


For the Ainslie Art Plaza, I hope the renovation plan includes a significant amount of permeable pavers for the hardscape, rather than cement slabs like the recently renovated community square in North Center.

The Ainslie Arts Plaza currently uses the pre-existing street surface, which enabled us to close it off, paint it, and have it converted to its new use in a matter of weeks rather than months extending into next year. Any re-paving or changes to the surface would be part of a future expansion. 


What’s going on with Tempel Steel property? 

Tempel Steel initially announced an intent to sell some or all of their property and move to a new location in 2019, but have paused that plan during COVID and are currently maintaining operations at their existing facility.


Will the Lawrence streetscape plan include bio-swales like those already in-place on Lawrence east of Western?

No, the soil is clay and doesn’t have the drainage that we have east of Western — drainage will be surface level drains and underground structures


Re: Metra…. will it be done b4 2021 is over then?

The contractor does not have a detailed timeline yet, as they are still in review for some of their permits, which affect when they can start. 


Retail storefronts are becoming less needed in the new  retail environment. Does the city and or the 40th ward have a plan for this ongoing trend?

We’re seeing (and making use of) more flexibility in the zoning code, including the live-work spaces on the ground floor and the ADU pilot. The Ward office works with our Chambers to keep storefronts vibrant — pop-up uses, temporary art galleries, etc. Biggest hurdle is always out-of-state property owners — local owners make it easier to support our storefronts!


What are the real estate taxes implications for these new dwelling allowances?

It will vary from property to property — the Cook County Assessor’s office will be able to answer tax valuation questions in more detail. We plan on holding an information session for homeowners interested in the ADU pilot in early 2021.


Interested in what if anything city council is going to do regarding cover up by the mayor of the incident involving Anjanette Young.

Alderman Vasquez and the Progressive Caucus have put out statements regarding the incident, and a Joint Committee on Health and Human Relations and Public Safety hearing has been convened for Tuesday, Dec. 22nd. A special session of City Council to consider a Council Order requiring the Department of Law to cease its action against Ms. Young has also been called for the 22nd. There have been multiple new developments in the last 48 hours, so please check the Ward newsletter and social media for the most recent updates from Ald. Vasquez. 


I know it’s not our ward, but the recent river park project has revealed a bunch of graffiti on walls on the west side of the river, near Northside CP HS. It looks terrible, especially backgrounded against the park landscaping work. Any way to get that taken care of?

The west side of the river near Northside High School is part of the 40th — please contact the ward office so we can coordinate with Streets & Sanitation and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District as needed. 


Is McDonalds or the City responsible for that plaza? Is that area with trees by the plaza cared for by the city or McDonalds?

Ainslie Arts Plaza is entirely City property, and includes pre-existing sidewalk, planted space, and a section of Lincoln Avenue between Gunnison and Ainslie that has been converted to pedestrian use. Landscaping is maintained by the Lincoln Square – Ravenswood SSA. 


RE: Washtenaw/Foster dev – we are requesting a traffic study and whatever you would call an “impact” study on this area before a decision is made on this zoning variance

The requested zoning change has been returned for revision to the developers, and future public meetings and comment periods will be held before any decision is made. 


With a budget that increases the percent of funds that go to the police, civilian oversight of the police is imperative. GAPA gives the mayor final control, the same mayor who has been witholding the Anjanette Young video. We need CPAC and only CPAC. Alderman Ramirez-Rosa is hosting CPAC briefings on January 4, 7, and 11 in anticipating of CPAC being introduced in January. Which one will you attend? How will you fight to get the votes for it to pass?

Alderman Vasquez is a co-sponsor of the CPAC ordinance and has been directly involved in discussions with both CPAC and GAPA drafters and supporters to try and produce a comprehensive civilian oversight model with 26 votes in City Council. Our office will continue to engage directly with the police reform project, and will continue to urge Chairman Taliaferro to call the long-stalled reform bills for a vote in the Public Safety Committee. 


Is there still a District 20 Virtual CAPS meeting and how can we get on it?

The individual beat meetings for District 20 CAPS can be viewed on their events calendar. Please contact CAPS020District@chicagopolice.org for information on the individual beats and their call-in/login options.


fyi- I watched the zoning mtg today. there WERE changes as recently as yesterday on the plan. when will you update your notifications re. Zoning?

All zoning changes in the 40th Ward go through a public meeting process before we will issue any letter of support. Some zoning changes then require subsequent approval from bodies such as the Zoning Board of Appeals or the Chicago Plan Commission, which are independent of City Council and do not require Aldermanic support. Proposals that go before those bodies can be found on their respective websites/calendars, and require local mailed notices in advance of hearings as well. 


In City Council, what is the status of the proposal for an Urban Forestry Board (UFB)? The rationale and urgency for an UFB was well-articulated by Daniella Pereira (VP of Community Conservation at Openlands) in an op-ed published in mid-August by the Chicago Tribune: https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-opinion-storm-trees-forest-20200814-m4chgg3fezc5vdifw2xauemaoy-story.html

O2020-3651, which is the establishing ordinance for an Urban Forestry Advisory Board, was sent to the Committee on Rules and must be assigned out to another committee for a hearing. Alderman Michelle Harris is the Chair of the Committee on Rules and sets the agendas for their meetings.