Statement on the Village’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance

You can download our statement here.

On Monday, February 11, at 7:30pm, the Oak Park Village Board will convene for a working session to hear from village staff on the inclusionary zoning ordinance. We need advocates and the community to show up and demand a stronger inclusionary zoning ordinance than the one that is currently being considered.

Specifically we need the village to include these points in their ordinance:

  • The ordinance must apply to all new construction as part of a density bonus instead of the current recommendation of “limit(ing) the inclusionary housing requirement to development of rental apartments and townhomes.”  

  • The studies cited don’t include any of the new developments that have brought more luxury rental and condos to the Oak Park housing market. We need to study the impact of these units on overall affordable housing numbers in Oak Park, as well as the impact on overall rental rate increases across the village.

  • Oak Park needs to stop comparing itself to Evanston - which as we know is a different community than OP and has a weak inclusionary zoning policy. Oak Park needs to be the leader on inclusionary zoning, not follow behind Evanston.

  • The Oak Park Village board needs to stop giving into the demands of developers and the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation, which is only working in the interests of developers, and not in the interests of low to moderate-income Oak Park residents.

As stated by Daniel Lauber in last week’s Wednesday Journal op-ed,

”An effective and legal inclusionary zoning ordinance, establishes a formula that permits a developer to exceed the number of units the zoning permits so that:

20 percent of all the units in the development are affordable to nurses, retired seniors, teachers, and others of modest income at no cost to taxpayers, and the developer gets to build more market rate units than the underlying zoning allows.

The result is that affordable units are built without any taxpayer subsidy, the developer makes a larger profit, and greater property tax revenues are generated. Instead of having to enter arbitrary negotiations with the village, an effective inclusionary zoning ordinance gives prospective developers certainty as to how many affordable units they must produce to receive zoning approval.”

Let’s be clear. This ordinance is being rushed through the board before the April 2nd election, before more progressive members of the community can get elected to this board. The board wants to push through an ordinance that would do little to actually increase the stock of affordable housing in Oak Park. Let’s also state this - affordable housing begets housing affordability. Too often, when we think of affordable housing, we think of the lowest income residents in Oak Park - often along racial lines. Affordable housing actually benefits all residents - those residents who want to age-in-place, who want to downsize and move into smaller homes, those residents who earn below the median income in Oak Park. Affordable housing is an equity issue that benefits all residents of Oak Park. It is time we recognized this, and fight for the most progressive affordable housing policy we can. It’s time we stopped pandering to developers, and worked in the best interests of the residents of Oak Park.

Actions you can take:

  • Show up to the village board meeting on Monday, February 12, at 7:30pm, and make a public statement advocating for a stronger, more progressive affordable housing policy.

  • Email with your comments

  • Write an op-ed in the Wednesday Journal.

  • Talk to your community members and inform them of what’s going on.

Arti Walker-Peddakotla