September 2019 Advocacy Update

On Tuesday, September 3, we held our monthly “Coffee with Your GADs” chat, where members join our Government Affairs Directors for an informal discussion about policy and politics impacting the real estate industry. This is an opportunity for members to learn about CAR’s current real estate advocacy initiatives and share any news or trends of interest.

Local Issues We’re Following

Criminal Background Checks

The proposal to amend criminal background checks in Cook County has passed and is currently in the rule-making process. With the new amendment, landlords cannot consider the criminal history of a tenant before the tenant has qualified for the apartment. In the hearing, held the day after the September Coffee with Your GADs meeting, an extension was granted so the amendment won’t be effective until next year. More updates will be discussed at the next meeting.

Mayor Lightfoot’s Budget Speech

On Thursday, August 29, Mayor Lightfoot delivered a speech to discuss her budget, which will be formally delivered next month, and the city’s $838 million deficit. While she didn’t offer too much on solutions or alternative taxes, she did discuss her proposal to increase the real estate transfer tax. CAR strongly opposes this tax increase, as it doesn’t yield the revenue needed to cover the pension obligations it’s supposed to address, it’s not a reliable source of income and it places a greater burden on buyers and sellers which could be detrimental to a healthy real estate market. As she looks for solutions to make up the deficit, Lightfoot is holding multiple open forums throughout Chicago leading up to the delivery of her formal budget on October 16th. REALTORS® are encouraged to visit these forums to make their voices heard and take the city’s budget survey to have a say in the city’s fiscal priorities.

Changes to Bulk Conversions

Introduced by Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd Ward, this proposal calls for an increase in the percentage of conversion approval from 75 percent to 85 percent of owners – meaning, 85 percent of the condo association will have to be in favor before a condo conversion is approved. While this proposal is still pending, there is significant interest from the General Assembly.

Senior Government Affairs Director Brian Bernardoni stands with current CAR president Tommy Choi and six past presidents who came to bid him farewell after 17 years of leading CAR’s advocacy initiatives.

Bird-Friendly Building Ordinance

There’s a push for building exteriors to be more animal-friendly. The bird-friendly building ordinance proposal seeks to have exterior glass made less reflective and thus, less dangerous for birds.

Contractors Prohibited to Get City Work if They Help ICE

GAD Brian Bernardoni called this issue an agenda-setting issue more than anything, but warned contractors that if they assist the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in identifying undocumented residents, it could stop their work with the city. This includes large mobile service providers.

Accessibility Parking

An ordinance from 2017 to address how condominium owners provide parking spaces for those with disabilities is back on the table. In cases where the reserved spaces are not being used, the ordinance calls for the spaces to be rented on a month-to-month basis. While CAR supports the ordinance conceptually, we’re working to better understand the language and make sure this ordinance will not be retroactive to impact current parking space owners.

Chicago’s Affordable Housing Initiative

There is a continual flow of ordinances that incentivize non-profit developers to build affordable housing units, but private developers haven’t benefited from these. The establishment of the Chicago Community Land Trust Affordable Homeownership and Housing Program looks for ordinances that help private developers. In response to this push, CAR is currently working with the Homebuilders Association to find incentives for private developers.

Curb Fencing

This proposal looks to improve curb fencing to prevent people from chipping or denting their vehicles by parking farther from the curb.

Transfer Tax

There’s a proposal to have the transfer tax be removed from a certain area around the proposed Obama Library. At the same time, there’s a call for an increase in the transfer tax everywhere else to cover police and fire pensions and support the homeless. While CAR believes in the need to address all these concerns, we oppose doing it through transfer taxes, which won’t generate the money needed and will put greater burden on the backs of buyers and sellers.

Homes for All

This seeks to overlay the zoning code and allow for a higher threshold of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO). CAR has traditionally opposed these types of ordinances as they hinder development.

Special Guest

Alderman Raymond Lopez of the of the 15th Ward joined us. Lopez, who just began his second term, has been commended for his work in trying to eliminate crime and make efficient use of the budget. He began his speech thanking CAR for our support and the strong working relationship we have with his office. He then delved into his perspective of the city and his focus. Lopez said he’s determined to build relationships and connect people who believe they may have nothing in common. One example is connecting the Lincoln Park Builders Club with residents of Englewood and Back of the Yards. “The story that [Chicago] is a tale of two cities isn’t true,” he said. “It’s a tale of two directions and two choices. The question is, what are you willing to do when you have seen communities that have prospered versus communities that have been stagnant?” Lopez expressed concerns over Mayor Lightfoot’s proposal to increase the real estate transfer tax on homes over $500,000 and any legislation that will lead to an increase in property taxes. He ended his chat by encouraging each REALTOR® to stand up now to elect and support alderman who are actively opposing proposals that threaten the real estate industry. “It’ll take a political generation to undo [the damage of increased taxes and not finding any alternatives]” Lopez said.

New GADs

This was the final Coffee with Your GADs meeting with longtime GAD Brian Bernardoni. After 17 years of advocating for private property rights at CAR, Brian is leaving to begin a new venture. We thank Brian for all he has done. His last day is September 30th. In his stead, we welcome Kris Anderson, CAR’s Director of External and Government Affairs, and Adriann Murawski, Director of Government Affairs. Meet and greet our new GADs at our next meeting on Tuesday, October 1st.