Pilsen Alliance responds to PLUC

February 23, 2016

Dear Pilsen residents,

For months Pilsen Alliance has been trying to reach out to members of the Pilsen Land Use Committee (PLUC), hoping we can discuss the housing situation in Pilsen and have a transparent and inclusive analysis of new development projects coming to our community. Unfortunately, our communications trying to reach out to them have been ignored and residents who should be part of the decision making process to revise these projects have been excluded, while only certain organizations and individuals are making decisions on behalf of our community.

Mr. Raymundo from the Resurrection Project, and one of the leaders of PLUC states the following regarding the 99 condo project PLUC and Alderman Solis approved recently:

“PLUC represents the community’s best interests but does not pretend to speak for all residents”

However, that is exactly what has being happening for way too long in our community, and we are publicly questioning PLUC’s interests and decisions on behalf of Pilsen residents. First of all, PLUC is a committee appointed by Alderman Solis and they have been revising and making recommendations on new development projects on behalf of Pilsen residents but without community input.

By excluding the majority of Pilsen residents, PLUC is carrying a political agenda, Alderman Solis’s agenda which consists in taking political contributions from developers and pushing for their agendas instead of advocating for his constituents by informing them about these projects and getting their feedback. Mr. Raymundo and all PLUC members should not be carrying Alderman Solis agenda by legitimizing development projects that will displace the same families they claim to be representing.

Unfortunately, very few residents were present to approve this 99 unit project and Alderman Solis fast tracked this project in City Hall to gain approval in only 5 days after the so called “ public meeting”, which was filled with PLUC members and their staff, but without good representation of residents living 250 feet from this project, that is a fact. PLUC members should not be claiming that there was community input when there was not community participation, and they should not be mixing up their decision with a “community decision”.

Mr. Raymundo claims PLUC represents the best interest of the community, but how are median rents of $2,000/month would benefit the community? What is the tax break the developer is receiving for donating the lot? Many questions remain unanswered.

If the community decides to approve a lot for Benito Juarez H.S. instead of 21% of affordable housing for this project, this must be a community decision and not a decision made by Benito Juarez principal or La Familia Latina Unida which is an organization that does have a very political agenda, or just stop by their “church” on 21st and Damen to see political banners all over the place.

There was no transparency in the approval of this project, and PLUC should not be speaking on behalf of residents to push for political agendas, this is the real risk for our community, organizations pretending to speak on behalf of all residents instead of informing and consulting with residents to have a community driven process that would truly address the issue of displacement. There is no secret Pilsen Alliance has a drastically different agenda than Alderman Solis, but PLUC members are misleading the community to believe they are not pushing for Alderman Solis political agenda and that they are consulting with residents about their decisions because they have not done so.

PLUC actions and decisions are a real threat to the community as we struggle to find balance development to replace the “pay to play” politics that Alderman Solis has imposed in our community for way too long. This decision made by four organizations and not by the residents in the community sets a horrible precedent in terms of the balanced development we have been advocating as a community organization, this sets a precedent where four community organizations will decide on behalf of Pilsen residents and that is unacceptable.

Let’s not fool ourselves, PLUC and Alderman Solis are the voice for complete GENTRIFICATION of our beloved PILSEN, they want to cash out from new developments coming to our community instead of letting residents decide. Furthermore, only the poor and working people of NUESTRO BARRIO know and understand the housing problems such as displacement and homelessness in our community,  PILSEN! They also have a voice and we will make sure it will be heard.

It is ironic and hypocritical to talk about political agendas or representing the best interest of the community when these organizations have received millions of dollars in public funding, yet 10,000 low income residents, mainly Latin@s have left our community in the last 10 years due to lack of investment in affordable housing. Their three figure salaries buy their silence, but they will not compromise our love and care for our community or mission to advocate for transparency and inclusion. Nosotros no nos vendemos, y Pilsen no se vende tampoco!

Mr. Raymundo and the rest of PLUC members should know better, you are community organizations not the community, and you should be advocating for real balanced development and not “pay to play” politics from the Alderman’s office, now those are the facts.

Sincerely,

Magda Ramirez Castaneda

Pilsen Alliance Board President