Chicago Ordinance Focuses on Equitable TOD

Transit-oriented development has ramped up in Chicago, but racial and economic inequities have come along with it. A proposed ordinance would expand TOD zones while also preventing displacement of residents.

1 minute read

December 21, 2018, 8:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink

Chicago Bus

CC Public Domain / Pxhere

Chicago passed a transit-oriented development ordinance in 2013 as well as an initiative last year focused on TODs along high-ridership bus corridors in the city. "If a land parcel is located within a quarter-mile (two full blocks or a roughly five-minute walk) of a designated bus line segment, that parcel is eligible for reductions in required parking and increases in height and density," reports David Zegeye.

As these projects have moved forward, however, concerns about displacement in low-income communities and communities of color have become an issue, particularly in areas where upscale TOD projects mean less affordable housing. Mayor Rahm Emanuel last week introduced a new ordinance to expand the city’s TOD zones and support equitable TOD, says Zegeye:

Unlike previous versions of Chicago’s TOD ordinance, the new legislation explicitly mentions using TOD as a strategy for increasing racial and economic equity. Stated goals include "Avoiding displacement of residents, small businesses, cultural institutions, and community organizations" and "Encouraging investment in communities of color and low-income communities and appropriately addressing various market conditions."

The goal of the ordinance is to encourage TODs in underserved parts of the city, including Chicago's South Side and West Side neighborhoods. The TOD bus corridors also align with areas the city hopes to revitalize using local economic development and federal Opportunity Zone funding.

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