Who can afford to live in Oak Park?

Do luxury towers signal vanishing diversity?

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

The next frontier in Oak Park's half-century fight to promote and maintain racial integration throughout the village. 

Multiple new high-rise luxury developments that have started to go up in town loomed over a July 19 panel discussion on integration, moderated by media veteran and Oak Park resident Charlie Meyerson, at the Oak Park Public Library. 

Many panelists and audience members said the village has become less vigilant about guarding against racial re-segregation than it had been in the past, right when costly housing may pose a stubborn obstacle to many low-income, minority families as well as middle-class families and young professionals seeking to move into, or continue living in, Oak Park. 

The concerns have prompted the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, which hosted the discussion, to start soliciting public input in order to build a coalition dedicated to realizing "a more inclusive, equitable, and vibrant community," according to a handout circulated by the organization during last Thursday's discussion.  

Rob Breymaier, the Housing Center's executive director who was on the three-person panel, said the village needs to be more deliberate about preventing racial and economic segregation in parts of Oak Park. 

"A lot of us have never lived in an Oak Park that wasn't diverse or integrated, and we probably think that maybe it's just natural or that's just how it works, but it's not just natural," he said. "It takes a lot of work."   

Breymaier, along with co-panelists Linda Francis, the director of Success of All Youth, and Maria Saldana, the executive director of the Oak Park Residence Corporation (RESCO), said that the new luxury developments could risk pricing minorities and low-income families out of the village. 

"One of the things we haven't really talked about a lot is how we integrate across economic levels and that's a really important part of having a vibrant community," Francis said. "When you think about who can afford those rents, you're not only looking at a limited group of people in terms of race, but also in terms of profession and a wide array of perspectives."

Cheree Moore, a married African-American mother of three, said she's worried that she may be priced out of the place she's long called home. The Oak Park and River Forest High School graduate and member of the village's Community Relations Commission said her household income is too high to qualify for low-income housing subsidies, but not high enough to buy a house in the village. 

"What is the village going to do for the young professionals," said Moore, 33. "We're going to be the people who will be [members of] the next boards, who will be running for office, who will be the next educators in this community and we can't afford to live here. I recently graduated with a master's in public administration, but unfortunately I'm not going to be able to stay in Oak Park to use it."

Saldana, whose agency manages multiple affordable and integrated residential buildings across Oak Park, said that the village also needs to consider an affordable housing plan that includes middle-income families. 

Saldana said she was concerned that the towers — which include a mixed-use property at Harlem Avenue and South Boulevard, luxury condominiums at Lake Street and Euclid Avenue and a 271-unit residential high-rise at Lake Street and Forest Avenue — won't attract many minorities. 

Starting rent for a studio apartment at Vantage Oak Park, the Lake and Forest development, is $1,527 a month. 

Breymaier said the Housing Center, which aggressively markets residences in Oak Park in order to facilitate diversity and integration, has a partnership with the Vantage development to list those properties, but that more needs to be done. 

"This is an example of where a more comprehensive strategy might be helpful," he said. 

Eric Davis, an Oak Park Housing Authority commissioner, said that his agency is in the process of developing an affordable-housing policy for new developments in the village "so that developers have predictability and can understand what the community expects when they come and work here." 

Many residents who spoke during the meeting's public comments portion expressed numerous frustrations with the village's current integration efforts. They mentioned the village no longer requires owners of rental buildings with six or fewer units to report the racial profile of their renter population and the village's current comprehensive plan as points of concern. 

Breymaier, however, said that U.S. Census data, which now comes out annually instead of every 10 years, provides virtually the same information.   

Daniel Lauber, a former village planner for Oak Park and the principal author of the village's 1979 comprehensive plan, said he would've preferred the village require that at least 15 percent of the high-rise units be affordable to households of modest incomes. 

"Instead they're building high-rises where it'll cost $3,000 for an apartment, it's obscene," he said. "You might as well own if you're going to spend that much money." 

Contact:
Email: michael@oakpark.com

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Franz Hayek  

Posted: August 2nd, 2016 3:41 PM

Ada Johnson Tikkanen - "Why does there have to be some pie chart to determine check or otherwise, have I ever lived beyond my means. I don't understand why we can't let communities grow organically?" Your thinking is dead on. Organic growth doesn't create the outcomes those in charge seek. Thank you for your insightful, but yet very simple reasoning! FH

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: August 1st, 2016 5:26 PM

and I'm really done with discussing this subject - there is literally nothing any one can say that's going to change my mind - so if you could possibly direct comments towards others, I'd appreciate it.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: August 1st, 2016 3:09 PM

So what exactly do you want us to do Mauna - start a gofundme account for every millennial who feels they are being disrespected because they can't afford to live in their old neighborhood. Here's an idea - wow Forest Park, Berwyn and Elmwood Park are just a hairsbreadth from where I grew up. I can be at Mom and Dad's in 7 mins. instead of 5. If I had my druthers, I'd have a big fat lake house with a pool. But I don't. However I'm pretty certain - there is affordable property for your young people to live in - it just not be the size home in the neighborhood they want it to be in. It's called life.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: August 1st, 2016 2:59 PM

You're right - it does suck for them.

Mauna Soustice  

Posted: August 1st, 2016 2:22 PM

@Ada: When a place you've lived in for years becomes so exclusive that many people find it hard to afford the rent/mortgage/taxes, then that IS a problem. If you are just passing through and don't have ties to the area, it doesn't mean much. But OP seems to have lots of people who grew up here, went away to college and came back. So they would like to raise their children in a diverse area close to the city and it sucks when they can't.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: August 1st, 2016 8:02 AM

I'm not crazy about all these midrises going up. Especially at the end of my block. It has, and will continue to, make parking and traffic a living hades. However - I've succumbed to the fact that it is what it is. It will also help a lot of business owners in this community. I have also found that many of the current rental residents of Lake and Forest are former homeowners in the Village who were ready to downsize and live a more carefree lifestyle. And they love it. It works for them. So who are we to judge.

John Butch Murtagh  

Posted: August 1st, 2016 12:19 AM

Christine Vernon - Your post was not only on the mark, it gave us all a history reminder in one of your quotes. You wrote, "A friend of mine, who worked for that Department (most likely the Community Relations Commission), was periodically told by people, black and white, they didn't care about living where they were told would be 'good' for diversity, they wanted to live where they wanted to live." In 2008, I was a rookie member of the Community Relations Commission and needed help in getting to know the way of the CRC. I asked Cedric Melton who was the best person to learn from. He immediately said I needed to meet Sherlynn Reid, the former director of Community Relations. She invited me to her house, served coffee and cake and said I could ask her anything I liked. After a few questions, I ask the question that was the elephant in the room; "Should integration be used to bring the races together. She answered immediately, "All people choosing to live in Oak Park should be able to choose their own home." I have agreed 100% with her viewpoint since.

Bridgett Baron  

Posted: July 31st, 2016 10:02 PM

I've read this article again, *after* listening to the 83-minute discussion (50 minutes of the panel, and then the rest are comments from attendees). I'm not sure why the writer, Michael Romain, focused so much on the luxury apartments going up, when that was less than two minutes of a rich, multi-faceted, and sometimes intense discussion.// And if you are going to report about the luxury apartments, a significant issue is: Why would people spend that kind of money on rent, when the goal we've heard for generations is to own. The developers know there is a market for these apartments, and Oak Park is not the only community to have them. This is a nationwide trend, as people feel less secure about their job prospects, feel the instability of their employment, and have an increasing desire for mobility. So owning a home (condo, townhouse, or detached house) is less desirable for many. Not all, but many. I'd like to see this topic explored more, because this going to change this community significantly. I don't even know if that's a "bad" thing. It is a different thing, though.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: July 31st, 2016 2:00 PM

brilliantly said Christine

Christine Vernon from Oak Park  

Posted: July 31st, 2016 1:39 PM

Ada, the opinion you expressed "let the community grow organically", is a valid position held by many people, beginning in the '60s, when the subject of integration and the possible imminent resegregation of Oak Park was predicted by Pierre DeVise (UIC) http://www.uic.edu/depts/lib/specialcoll/services/lhsc/ead/012-20-01f.html. Homeseekers 'counseled' by the Community Relations Department were steered to certain areas to maintain diversity. A friend of mine, who worked for that Department, was periodically told by people, black and white, they didn't care about living where they were told would be 'good' for diversity, they wanted to live where they wanted to live. The ACLU would have supported them whole- heartedly. The idea that you can orchestrate harmony is flawed when you have an underlying system that is flawed. These kinds of discussions and meetings have gone on for YEARS! John M. said it this way "They see Oak Park integration as the sole solution to all racial issues and a hedge for perpetual economic success in the village. Their annual integration rally satisfies their guilt." There is also the urgent need for surrounding communities to also have fair housing laws, safe neighborhoods, and good schools, which is why the Oak Park Housing Center added "Regional' to their name years ago. No one should be expected to apologize for being here for 'only' four years. Many OP families have been for many generations like mine, five generations now with my children. There are still plenty of problems left to solve. The story about Officer John Patterson, wounded in the course of defending himself and his neighbors, after 27 years of public service, to be denied benefits illustrates a fundamental and systemic problem with priorities and wisdom of some of the policymakers at Village Hall, priorities of spending millions on questionable projects and denying a deserving employee health benefits. This wrong urgently needs to be made right. This is a priority.

John Butch Murtagh  

Posted: July 31st, 2016 1:09 PM

A QUOTE FROM ROB BREYMAIER ABOUT LIFE WITHOUT INTEGRATION "We might remain diverse but we will be segregated. And, that loss will be accompanied by other negative social and economic consequences including segregated elementary schools and losses in property value." Sounds Thumpish!

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: July 31st, 2016 12:16 PM

Thanks for sharing Charlie - I made it to about 25 minutes - but promise to listen to the rest when I have more time. I don't disagree with the majority of what was said.

John Butch Murtagh  

Posted: July 31st, 2016 11:54 AM

Charlied Meyerson I read the piece yesterday. My review - creepy no - boring yes

Charlie Meyerson from Oak Park  

Posted: July 31st, 2016 10:42 AM

Before you label the proceedings "creepy," please listen. http://www.meyersonstrategy.com/2016/07/the-future-of-integration.html

John Butch Murtagh  

Posted: July 31st, 2016 10:31 AM

This is a challenging post. It covers two articles from this week's paper. The first is titled "Who can afford to live in Oak Park?" The second is "Oak Park cop shot gets wages cut by village." The first (Who can afford to live in Oak Park) proposes that the next frontier is integration throughout the village. It is an aged and unlikely goal. The second article, (Oak Park cop shot), describes how an OP policeman of twenty-seven year officer, Johnny Patterson, was shot and then ignored. While leaving for work, Officer Patterson was attacked by two assailants. While identifying himself, he was shot in the arm, side, and leg. He bravely defended himself and injured one of the assailants. Both assailants were arrested and Officer Patterson was taken to the hospital. He has not been able to work since, has taken a year of physical therapy, requires additional medical care, and the village has withdrawn his medical insurance. He is a victim. The group who wondered who can afford to live in Oak Park, are trapped in the 1990's. They see Oak Park integration as the sole solution to all racial issues and a hedge for perpetual economic success in the village. There annual integration rally satisfies their guilt. Officer Patterson has found himself in the Reality of 2016. He finds that fairness, justice, respect, loyalty, and generosity, and are leftovers from the 1990's. The age of 21st Century greed has left the Officer Patterson without the support he earned during twenty-seven years of service to the village. We, in Oak Park, talk a good racial game while failing to listen to the voices of minorities, immigrants, middle class workers, and the poor. We are a village that is spoiling its heritage with a concentration on concrete, consultants, developers, silent government, and perpetual integration. The reality is that integration is probably not on the top of the Officer Patterson list.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: July 30th, 2016 10:50 PM

Two buildings with a hundred units go up in a town of 52000 people and somehow the diversity of the whole place is at risk? Less than 1% change WOW. And what is really creepy is people saying at some panel that they need to be "guarding" the village from what - a new neighbor who who not whatever percentage of this or that group some "expert" dreamed up as an ideal mix. Just shut up and let everyone shop for a home and treat everyone the same and the people who come here come here.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: July 30th, 2016 8:26 PM

Furthermore - I why did you think I only lived her 4 years - did you do some kind of background check on me? B/c that is about the amount of time I've lived in my current home. If that's the case, that's pretty creepy.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: July 30th, 2016 8:21 PM

Bridget - I don't know if you;re familiar with the Harry Potter series - but there is character Dolores Umbridge who likes to disguise her aggressiveness with kittens and giggles. I make no apologies that I'm straight forward in my beliefs. However your passive aggressiveness doesn't go unnoticed. One is no better or no worse. Actually - take that back - I just wish everyone would get from point A to B and call it a day.

Bridgett Baron  

Posted: July 30th, 2016 7:08 PM

Ada, I may be misinterpreting your tone, since I only know you from words on a screen. So help me to understand, just so I'm clear. Your tone, based on your word choices like "diatribe" and "arrogant" and "self-righteous" appear to be an attack. I don't know you, so this may be your style of communication. Thanks for helping me understand, and for correcting me as to how long you've been a part of this community.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: July 30th, 2016 2:56 PM

Ada is my new hero.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: July 30th, 2016 2:36 PM

4 years - I've lived here since 2001 and raised my kids here (barring 2 years that my husband was transferred for his job). Chuckle away Bridgett. B/c I honestly don't care what you think of me. Just because I don't agree with you - doesn't mean I'm not working to make this world a better place. And I've run across people like you and your husband in my life. Vocal and self-righteous. Feeling if their fingers are not in the clay of molding communities in the manner which they deem they should be...then the world will not spin on its axis. Guess what? The world won't go off orbit if people disagree with you. So take your arrogant, self-righteous, I'm saving the world diatribe somewhere where people are going to fall for it - b/c I'm not.

Bridgett Baron  

Posted: July 30th, 2016 2:22 PM

Ada, you are newer to this town. Four years? So to say something is "shoved down your throat" that has been a part of this community more than 10 times longer than you have, is a bizarre stance to take. It's like those who live near the high school (which I do) complaining about the noise of the kids and all the other things that are associated with the high school. The high school has been there for over 100 years, surely longer than any of its residents. I get that you are not in favor of certain policies that Oak Park has. And it may very well be, that given the state of this country, and the state of this economy, and the state of the world, what Oak Park has been able to do all these years, may no longer be feasible or even desirable. But to use a tone that this is all being foisted upon you is just goofy. By the way, your example of "diversity" based on ethnicities and food is missing the point. I think that was intentional, but whatever. That made me chuckle as equally as being labeled liberal, given my politics are far more right than most Oak Parkers. Have a great Saturday, Ada. Really, I mean that. I hope to see ya around town! :-)

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: July 30th, 2016 12:07 PM

"...to be more intentional and comprehensive..." means what Bridgett? There are housing units for sale at a specific price and they are listed so everyone can come and see them. The sellers intend to sell them at that price. What else do you want - zoning changes, subsidies for some of your choosing, ????

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: July 30th, 2016 9:36 AM

and as far as affordability goes...I have many friends who found Oak Park didn't fit into their budget - so they moved to Forest Park, Elmwood Park, Berwyn, Melrose Park, Galewood. They have lovely homes and lovely lives. I still see them all the time. It isn't as if they fell off the planet by moving a few extra blocks away.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: July 30th, 2016 9:10 AM

Yes Chicago is a very segregated city, and that's one of the reasons it has an incredible vibe. I can drive through a neighborhood and be taken to Vietnam or India or Poland or Mexico or Puerto Rico. It is amazing. I can stop and eat food I've never even heard of. I can go to a local market and see something that will open my horizons. The segregation in Chicago is quite purposeful, in the sense, that when people immigrate here, they feel a sense of comfort living in a neighborhood much like what they had back in the old country. And I don't find that to be a problem. What I do find to be a problem, is someone trying to shove diversity down my throat. I don't appreciate shaking down developers for lower rent for people who can't afford to live in their buildings. I realize that you and your husband feel very strongly about forced diversity, and you may be concerned that the liberal bastion of Oak Park may be crumbling in front of your eyes...but not everyone has the same priorities.

Bridgett Baron  

Posted: July 30th, 2016 2:01 AM

"This article focuses on the affordability issue but the discussion was more centered on the need to be more intentional and comprehensive in our racial integration and inclusion efforts." Rob, thank you for correcting what the topic of the panel discussion was. And it is an important distinction to make between diversity and integration. They are not one in the same. As an example, Chicago, which is where I grew up, is one of the most diverse cities in America, and it's also one of the most segregated. Because Oak Park has been intentional for over 40 years about diversity *and* integration, we are a model community that is known nationally. However, as this panel discussion illuminated (a link to the discussion it to the right of this article) we can do better. And to do better, we need value diversity *and* integration enough to continually *do* something, as they don't happen organically.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: July 29th, 2016 5:37 AM

Or if you can't afford to live here - then don't. I'm not one of the people who moved to Oak Park for it's diversity. We moved here b/c it was a convenient commute, found a house we could afford, already knew some people here, and it was pretty.. We do have a vast number of friends of different ethnicities, religions, sexual persuasions, and socio-economic levels. But we always have where ever we have lived. Sorry - guess I missed the Village mandated "Peace, love and integration class" when we moved here.

Valerie Ursini from Oak Park  

Posted: July 29th, 2016 1:00 AM

Ms. Tikkanen, I think it comes down to, do your kids benefit from living in a diverse community? It sounds like it has taken a lot of work to get Oak Park to this point. If diversity is not a benefit to your family, you could just try to move now, if you're this frustrated.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: July 28th, 2016 10:19 PM

I'm utterly amazed by this whole concept. Diversity is great, Integration is great. But I don't understand why people just live where they can afford to live and don't where they can't. Why does there have to be some pie chart to determine who needs to live where. Never in my life, pay check to pay check or otherwise, have I ever lived beyond my means. I don't understand why we can't let communities grow organically?

Barbara Purington  

Posted: July 28th, 2016 5:46 PM

@Bruce Kline--Well said. Agree.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: July 28th, 2016 12:12 PM

Mr Breymaier: Well said. But affordability and racial integration are linked. I would also suggest that diversity is more inclusive than just race. Yes, diversity involves inclusiveness of families and individuals with a wide range of incomes. But diversity also includes a citizenry made up of a wide range of ages. And in this respect the affordability issues are just killing folks who have lived here for years and now - in retirement - forced to leave because of our outrageous property taxes. Even old retired people have something to contribute to a community - and sometimes what they can contribute is unique and valuable. Some societies respect the aged much more than we do here in the US. Not all retired people belong in the "warehouse." Many can actively contribute to the well being of our community. So yes, diversity is important. Diversity and affordability are intricately linked. And it is time for our community to get a grip on our uniquely out of control taxing bodies and our outrageous property taxes.

John Butch Murtagh  

Posted: July 28th, 2016 12:03 PM

Rob - this is a real estate and apartment rental issue. If you want to create equality, the rich housing guardians of white world should be step 1.

Rob Breymaier  

Posted: July 28th, 2016 11:30 AM

This article focuses on the affordability issue but the discussion was more centered on the need to be more intentional and comprehensive in our racial integration and inclusion efforts. Programs to provide opportunities for middle income and poor households so they can continue to live in Oak Park are important. But, those efforts should be connected to comprehensive policies and actions around housing and community development in the village. Our efforts to promote economic development, create new housing, upgrade community infrastructure, and improve community relations should all be functionally tied to our integration strategy. We are at a critical point in time where our region is changing dramatically and the communities around us are segregating. These changes have intensified the need for our efforts to promote Oak Park as welcoming and to encourage people to make moves that integrate the community. If we become complacent about our integration we will lose it. We might remain diverse but we will be segregated. And, that loss will be accompanied by other negative social and economic consequences including segregated elementary schools and losses in property value. However, if we put our core values of diversity and integration at the heart of our efforts, Oak Park will continue to thrive as a vibrant and inclusive community.

Christine Vernon  

Posted: July 28th, 2016 9:37 AM

(Part Two) Oak Park has, in a sense, always been guilty of economic discrimination. You might bristle when you hear that said, I know I did the first time I heard that statement in the 1960's, but it is true because of, most of all, the taxes. Although we have a variety of housing stock, we have long been taxed at one of the highest rates in Cook County. But as Jim Bowman points out, there are the services, when generally seem to get pretty high marks, services that we all appreciate - especially when contrasted with the services in many surrounding areas. There are services at a level we want them for everyone, not just ourselves. How do we reconcile this? A good discussion to have...nationally! "Democracy is not a spectator sport." If you have never signed or passed a petition for, or been a candidate for public office; if you have never attended a meeting of the Village Board or the Plan Commission or the Zoning Commission or one of the 20 others...if you never read up on an issue or become informed.... If don't vote.... Then never complain. You are part of the problem. If you are opposed to the double digit multi tens of million dollar natatorium, mount your argument and do something about how your tax dollars will be spent. Most of us don't want to make a career out of participating in local government, and we wonder why sometimes these local governing bodies need so much hand-holding by the public when they make skewed decisions listening to the only one...the same drummer time and time again...but the fact is that public input is essential in a democracy and if as in all work, if everyone helps, the work is made lighter.

Christine Vernon from Oak Park  

Posted: July 28th, 2016 9:23 AM

(Part One) Last night, President Obama reminded us "Democracy is not a spectator sport." When people move to OP, the good they see is the result of 60+ years of one party rule/government, by pretty much a volunteer board combined with participation of vigilant activists. In recent history, activists kept rubber-stamped development in Oak Park in check, and saw that projects got public input and scrutiny. That period of time is over. Developers are having their day unopposed. Not that it's all bad, but decisions on design and density are no longer getting the scrutiny by resident activists. Typically, citizen input is discounted. Many residents revert to democracy as a spectator sport. It can take two good incomes to afford the real estate and taxes here. Peoples' lives are busier than ever. Who can afford to waste time? The high-rise at Forest and Lake is as good as it is because citizens worked to have, not two 35 story towers there, not one 35 story there, but a high-rise with set backs, it has, and a building that stepped down into the surrounding area, the adjacent townhouses. It took tremendous work and effort on the part Village Board and opponents to their proposed inferior project, overly dense, overly tall inferior proposal. As the closest privately-owned home to the project and ours was a front row seat to that battle. Decent buildings don't happen by accident. Developers who want to build here and add their work to the work of over 100 architects need to contribute to this laboratory of American architecture, our unique legacy, and we need to be good stewards of our God-given natural resources and our man-made material resources, gifts on loan to us. When we see candidates run for political office for personal or political gain, or resume material, or ego, we need to replace them with people actually understand and believe in Public Service. It will help future generations if we have to spend more time modeling good Public Service for young people.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: July 28th, 2016 9:11 AM

@Tom MacMillan - if property taxes on a condo are $10,000 per year, that is about $833 per month. The rent on a studio apartment in the new building at Lake & Forest starts at $1527 per month. That is almost TWICE the payment for taxes on that condo - not what I would call close by any means. I'm not quite sure what point you were trying to make by saying they are close but the bottom line, that are taxes are high and are making Oak Park less affordable, is correct.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: July 28th, 2016 7:54 AM

First of all, are these high rises replacing former low income housing? Most are on formerly empty lots. The way I see it, if you can attract a few more high wealth people, it will add to the potential donation base for Oak Park's numerous charities (like the Regional Housing Center). I agree that property taxes are the real challenge for Oak Park homeowners. Our family, for one, will not be able to stay here once we retire.

Barbara Purington from Oak Park  

Posted: July 28th, 2016 12:53 AM

Three trends noted: young middle class couples with young kids overextend themselves to move here for the schools; then are unable to do upkeep on vintage housing stock due to increasing tax bills. Next, families selling/relocating elsewhere as soon as kids graduate from OPRF to escape high taxes and afford college tuition. Retirement living in OP is not a good value, with a tax bill nearly tripling in past 18 years, with no improvements to house or property.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2016 10:56 PM

The property taxes on a modest condo in this town can be $10,000 a year. So even if you have no mortgage you are going to be spending close to what the rent would be on the apartment used as an example in this article. The property taxes are the issue and the never ending stream of new ideas and projects that require more tax increase of "only" this amount or that amount need to end if you want things to be affordable. Its not the high rises' fault and they are a good thing for keeping the downtown active and vibrant, which is critical. But no way apartments in those buildings are going to magically be inexpensive or affordable when they each carry a $900 a month per unit tax burden. We have a great town and if you can afford to live here its a nice choice, but at some point they need to slow down the big ideas and projects.

Jenna Brown Russell  

Posted: July 27th, 2016 8:06 PM

What do we want? A $60MM natatorium!! When do we want it? Now!! Who do we want to pay for it? Poor people!! Bless our hearts.

Jim Bowman  

Posted: July 27th, 2016 5:07 PM

Don't taxes rise with quality and thus cost of services? Don't new high-rises add to the tax base and tax revenue? Can't talk taxes, not services, seems to me.

John Kehoe  

Posted: July 27th, 2016 4:48 PM

Agree with Robert Zeh - No mention of the very high taxes and fees. Who can afford to live in Oak Park? Young professionals "earning" mid to high six figures. that's who! The tax concessions given new development is breaking the back of the taxpayers in this Village.and forcing senior residents to leave. We have lived in two homes in Oak Park since 1972, raised two daughters here and as we approach retirement, now HAVE to find housing elsewhere because of the expense. We love our present home and are very sad that we are being priced out of our own community.

John Butch Murtagh  

Posted: July 27th, 2016 4:22 PM

Yes sir, our local leftees will ensure that developers have predictability when screwing the village!

Michael Nevins  

Posted: July 27th, 2016 1:36 PM

Isn't this backwards? A bit silly/redundant? Why aren't the panelists, etc. noted in the above article spending their time trying to make the the segregated communities of Cicero, Berwyn, Galewood, Maywood, and Austin more "integrated"? Oak Park is more "integrated" than just about every community in the world and their time/effort is spent in this tiny village?!? Want some more places to go? Just about any town north, south, east and west of Oak Park. They can ride public transportation to all of these places and get there quick. Can we locally then concentrate on the skyrocketing property taxes that's hurting so many (of all races) already here?

John Walsh  

Posted: July 27th, 2016 10:24 AM

a prime example of overbuilding i

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: July 26th, 2016 10:58 PM

The Village Board needs to issue a report to the community on the progress to date on efforts to make sure there are viable housing options for people with disabilities.

Robert Zeh  

Posted: July 26th, 2016 8:43 PM

Do you know what is missing from this article? Any mention of how high the property taxes are in Oak Park, and how that affects people's ability to afford housing in Oak Park.

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