Proposed new development at 7 Van Buren St. at Austin Boulevard. | Rendering provided by Oak Park Residence Corporation

Regarding planned parking for the 7 Van Buren building [Plan Commission hears 7 Van Buren proposal, News, Oct. 13]: 

Seventeen parking spaces for 45 housing units is epically inadequate. If the property can accommodate only 17 parking spaces, no matter how hard they try, then the building is too large for the space under consideration.  

Inadequate parking for planned housing should be a deal breaker in this village, right from the start. Don’t bring anything else up. Come back when you have appropriate parking plans.  

The proposed solution to inadequate parking? Adding a clause to the leases, prohibiting tenants from applying for overnight street-parking.  

This “solution” is a might ham-handed at best, turning a blind eye to reality in the world as we know it. Look at Evanston, Hyde Park, Lakeview, Logan Square:  communities having a plethora of cars to park, despite the convenience of the el and other public transportation. Similarly, the Van Buren tenants will have cars that need to be parked. Count on it. Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ or failing to provide adequate parking won’t make that reality go away.

Two possible outcomes are anticipated: 

1) Inadequate parking impeding the mix of middle-class and low-income residents, defeating the development’s primary objective.

Few of the “typical” middle-class families I know, have one car. Most have a car for each adult in the household. Why?  

Their lives do not begin and end within walking distance of an el stop, a bus stop, or their home. Oak Parkers have things to do, people to see, places to go outside of Oak Park. They go to places like Lemont, Oak Brook, Buffalo Grove, Olympia Fields: destinations where taking public transportation is inconvenient and use of drive services too expensive. (Uber to Olympia Fields?  $50+ one way!) They use their cars to get there.

Under the plan’s best possible scenario, 17 spaces give 17 units parking for one car each: none can have two cars without depriving a neighbor of parking. This plan presumes at least 28 units, i.e. 62% of the units, will have no vehicle. Ever. Is that reasonable?

Those folks who realize they cannot rely on parking lot availability and that they cannot apply for overnight street parking, will not to move to that building.  

2) Folks unfamiliar with the continuing “parking problem” in Oak Park will not expect that brand-new housing was constructed without sufficient parking, and that their “standard lease” contains a prohibition against applying for a street parking permit. Folks may discover the unusual prohibition when they start receiving parking violation tickets for overnight street parking and go to the village hall to find that they are prohibited from even applying for a parking permit.

Why are Oak Park residents being put in such a foreseeable, untenable position?  

The commission is respectfully and urgently requested to prioritize and ensure appropriate parking when considering variances for new housing construction. Let’s start with 7 Van Buren.  

Joanne W. Schochat is an Oak Park resident and vehicle owner.

Join the discussion on social media!