Fair Housing Plan and New Ethics Rules for Councilmembers Receive City Council Approval

Chicago councilmembers tried Wednesday to address fair housing, fairness in police deals and the ethical rules that govern their own behavior.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposal to address the harms of segregation promote residential and employment development along Chicago’s public transportation lines was approved during Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Councilmembers voted 36-10 in favor of the ordinance, with little discussion. Councilmembers Marty Quinn, Raymond Lopez, Nicholas Sposato, Anthony Napolitano, Brendan Reilly, Brian Hopkins, Silvana Tabares, Jim Gardiner, Edward Burke and Michele Smith voted no.

The changes include expanding incentives for homes and businesses built near bus and train lines, as well as reductions in parking spaces and affordable units. Additionally, new parking in residential buildings near train stations will be limited, and standards for pedestrian-friendly designs within four blocks of train stations will be implemented.

Lightfoot’s plan also aims to address gentrification. In high-cost areas, proposed affordable housing projects will be eligible for an up or down vote by the zoning committee within one year. And the construction of new single-family homes without a zoning change will be prohibited in areas zoned for multi-family housing in gentrifying neighborhoods.

The legislation does not change existing procedures for approving development, including the practice of councilmember privilege, which gives the City Councilmember representing that district an unofficial final say on projects there.

At a news conference after the council meeting, Lightfoot said the ordinance will promote racial equity and make streets more “welcoming.”

“Whether residents walk, bike, drive or use a wheelchair, they can participate in the economic and cultural vitality of our great city,” Lightfoot said. “This is the most comprehensive and equity-focused update of the City’s equitable transit-oriented development policies to date.”

Also on Wednesday, councilors approved a ethics amendments package that it will review rules enforcing good government practices for the second time under Lightfoot’s first term. But the final version was watered down after negotiations between the main architect of the legislation, the 43rd Ald. Michele Smith, and the mayor.

Among the package’s provisions are a much higher fine cap of $20,000 for those who violate the ethics ordinance and a ban on non-Council members, including former council members, from lobbying on the floor.

The unanimous vote occurred on the same day that a former councilman turned lobbyist, Joe Moore, once again appeared on the council floor, chatting with former colleagues before the meeting began.

Another new feature: Spouses and common-law partners are now included in the determination of conflicts of interest, and the restrictions on conflicts of interest will be expanded to include any action or decision that may benefit an official or their relatives or associates, instead of just companies contracted from city employees. or relatives. Contractors will also be required to provide ethics and sexual harassment training.

Overall, the package was watered down from Smith’s previous version. The Ethics Board must now give people 10 days’ notice if it finds probable cause that they violated the ethics ordinance, for example. And the bills that were scrapped include requirements for city subcontractors to adhere to campaign contribution limits and for elected officials to leave council chambers when there is a vote or discussion about something they have a conflict over. of interests.

Finally, the councilors approved more than $11 million in police misconduct settlements Wednesday. They will go to the family of a man shot and killed by Chicago police, a man whose murder conviction was overturned after a police investigation failed and a man who alleged excessive force by officers during a takedown arrest.

In the first case, the $4.25 million deal passed 37-9, with Quinn, Lopez, Tabares, Sposato, Napolitano, Burke and Gardiner voting no, along with Ald. Gilbert Villegas and Ald. Felix Cardona.

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