Chicago, October 18th 2017
Open Letter to Pilsen Land Use Committee (PLUC),
On Tuesday October 10th at 9am, the Pilsen Land Use Committee (PLUC) scheduled a meeting with Mr. Noah Gottlieb, principal of Property Markets Group (PMG), which has been proposing a mega real estate project at the a 7.86-acre site at 18th St. and Peoria. Mr. Gottlieb has gone public in community meetings and refused to provide on-site affordable housing as per the advisory mandate of 21% on-site affordable housing by the Pilsen Land Use Committee.
Pilsen Alliance and many other residents in the community have been following the development of these lots very closely for years, and we went to Alivio Medical Center to request access to the meeting in order to hear any updates or changes on the current proposal. We were shocked by the response given by a few members of PLUC who not only denied access to the meeting, but decided to call security to escort out of the building our Executive Director, Byron Sigcho, and our Housing Organizer, Moises Moreno, in one of the most shameful and authoritarian acts this appointed committee has made in its 13 years of existence.
We would like to remind PLUC that their creation as a non-binding advisory committee for Alderman Solis was not an act of good faith or self-initiative, but rather it was the Alderman’s way to respond to Pilsen Alliance’s 2004 referendum calling for open zoning meetings that received approximately 95% of public support. Despite these efforts, Alderman Solis decided that public meetings are not necessary and appointed “organizations … led by people he worked with in his early days when he was a community activist”, as he said in a recent interview.
For 13 years, Pilsen residents have been excluded from the decision making process that suppose to be transparent and public in order to insure accountability and checks and balances. Instead, PLUC has become more and more hostile towards public participation. It is very concerning that after calling Mr. Gottlieb “Trump Jr” and supporting Pilsen Alliance efforts to stop PMG’s project in a public letter; behind doors, PLUC was at the table with this same person. And instead of treating a neighborhood organization with respect and listen to their request, they used security guards to hide their actions.
This is simply unacceptable and condemnable at every level, and we demand that PLUC starts calling for public meetings immediately, as they have failed to oversee and enforce Pilsen mandate of 21% affordable units set aside for any new projects of over 10 units. In the 25th ward, developers have been paying in lieu fees of approximately $3.3 million dollars instead of holding Alderman Solis and developers accountable to create more affordable housing in the community. We are also demanding official minutes from the October 10th closed session meeting held at Alivio Medical Center. Any decisions on the 18th and Peoria development must be made in the public domain and we are asking for public participation before any agreement is made in writing with Public Market Group and the Pilsen Land Use Committee. We would like to quote Mr. Raul Raymundo, chair of PLUC about the big issue of accuracy and transparency in a recent note about these controversies:
“What’s more dangerous than gentrification is the dissemination of incomplete or even inaccurate information that benefits particular agendas but not the community as a whole.”
We will take Mr. Raymundo on his word and demand that in order to address this danger in the community, PLUC starts disseminating information through public meetings that will insure that decisions are made on the best interest of the community as a whole, and not for particular groups appointed by the Alderman.
We hope this very unfortunate incident serves as a precedent to demand transparency and public participation in order to address as a collective the different challenges in our community.
Magda Ramirez Castaneda
Pilsen Alliance Board of Directors, President
cc: PLUC members: Alivio Medical Center, 18th Street Development Corporation, The Resurrection Project, and Pilsen Neighbors.
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