“A tool of the new Jim Crow”: Lightfoot called on to eliminate aldermanic prerogative over zoning

Shriver Center on Poverty Law also said Chicago Plan Commission should be replaced with new body

Sep.September 25, 2019 05:30 PM
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago City Hall (Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago City Hall (Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia)

Housing advocates for a national economic justice group called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to remove aldermanic prerogative, calling it a “tool of the new Jim Crow.”

In its place, the advocates from the Shriver Center on Poverty Law suggested the legislative mechanism be replaced with a new approach to promote racial equity, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The message came in the form of a complaint filed Wednesday, which follows one the advocates filed last year with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That action alleged that aldermanic prerogative perpetuated racial injustice in the city by segregating residents and keeping affordable housing out of white neighborhoods. Aldermanic prerogative — or privilege — gives aldermen near-unilateral power over zoning decisions inside their ward boundaries.

The group called on the mayor to eliminate aldermanic prerogative over zoning, strip them of their ability to indefinitely kick the can down the road on zoning approval for affordable housing and conduct a “racial equity impact assessment” to study discriminatory land use and housing policies. Other requests included a development council in all 50 wards to make decisions in line within the framework of a larger plan; it would also gut the Chicago Plan Commission.

Lightfoot has promised renewal in a number of South and West Side neighborhoods, though it’s unclear if she’ll try to strip aldermen of their local power knowing they control the budget. [Chicago Sun-Times] — James Kleimann

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