Affordable Housing Committee Meeting Minutes ~ 6.23.21

Location of meeting:  Via Zoom

Time meeting was called to order: 7:00pm

Kristin led the meeting as Nan was travelling.  Agenda Items:

  1. IL HB2621 passes the legislature and is waiting for the governor’s signature (he will sign). Known as the Affordable Housing Omnibus Act, provisions include:
    1. An amendment to the AHPAA that clarifies that Home Rule is not an exclusion for filing a Housing Plan.  All non-exempt municipalities (includes Park Ridge) need to file a Plan with the state.  The Attorney General now has enforcement powers.
    1. Creates tax incentives for developers who designate at least 20% of their housing units as affordable.
    1. Offers a tax break for multifamily properties in Cook County that are financed through Low Income Housing Tax Credits.
    1. Appropriates more funding for affordable housing

We are not sure how the city will react to the new law but think it will make it difficult for the city to avoid the issue of affordable housing and the submission of a Housing Plan.

  • City Council Meeting 6/7/21
    • P&Z Commissioner Becky Mills made a public statement and submitted a letter voicing her concern about the dismissal of Jim Brown, 4 aldermen making legal disclosures about behind-the-scenes communications, and the FOIA documents relating to the development process and content of the Comp Plan.  She called for an honest productive discussion, as well as transparency, regarding how to move forward with the Comp Plan.  Several citizens, including Sarah Nugent on behalf of the LWVPR, expressed their support of Commissioner Mills and called for an open, transparent process.
    • There was a suggestion from Alderman Biagi that all FOIA requests and production be posted on the city website.  This would be a good thing.
    • A discussion about the role of aldermanic liaisons to city commissions was started with more to come at the next meeting.  This is an ethics issue as well as a staffing issue.
    • Nan Parson invited the commission to the Action Ridge Meeting held 6/10/21 to hear a presentation on affordable housing given by Sue Loellbach, Manager of Advocacy for Connections for the Homeless.  Kristin sent the slides and link to the presentation to council following the meeting.
  • P&Z Meeting of 6/8/21
    • Commissioner Mills submitted her letter and reiterated the need for discussion about the process of developing the Comp Plan.
    • Chair Argionis read a long statement in defense of what he called a “personal attack” and cited “inaccuracies” in the letter.
    • Kristin Berg invited the commission to the Action Ridge Meeting held 6/10/21 to hear a presentation on affordable housing given by Sue Loellbach, Manager of Advocacy for Connections for the Homeless.  Kristin sent the slides and link to the presentation to the commission following the meeting.
  • Nan and Kristin met with Joe Gilmore, City Manager, on 6/9/21.
    • We expressed our concern with the Comp Plan process and how the documentation from the FOIA request indicated backroom communications and lack of consensus from both P&Z and City Council.  We reiterated that the Comp Plan process needs to be transparent.
    • Joe confirmed that it is the P&Z’s responsibility to draft the Comp Plan, with the advice of staff and consultants, and make recommendations to city council when finished.  There is nothing in the protocol that allows for P&Z to send drafts back and forth for alderman “feedback” while they are still working through it.
    • The Comp Plan is on hold until a CP&D Director is hired.  Joe did not expect to receive resumes from the staffing agency until the end of June.  It will likely be late summer before that person is in place. The City Manager and City Attorney have the hiring and firing responsibilities for staff. The mayor is not involved.  Joe would not comment on the firing of Jim Brown but did say it was not because of his views on affordable housing.  After reading the FOIA information, it is hard to see how his views were not at least part of the decision.
    • The Mayor’s Advisory Board recommends candidates for commissions.  The mayor chooses candidates to recommend to City Council who votes to approve them.  At that point, only Council has the ability to provide oversight to commissions and commissioners.  That leaves the Chair of P&Z with a lot of power.  It will be up to citizens to attend meetings and speak out if there are issues with protocol or transparency.
    • We expressed our desire to see P&Z follow proper protocol regarding the Housing Chapter of the Comp Plan and for Council to take the time needed to discuss and consider the many complexities of affordable housing.
  • The slides and link to Sue Loellbach’s presentation at the Action Ridge Meeting were sent to the group.  Sue’s agency has an educational seminar on affordable housing that we discussed scheduling in the fall.  Kristin and Nan will review the Advocacy Toolkit that Sue recommends for housing advocates to use in their communities.  On first glance, it looks like a lot of work but maybe we can work on it as a group.  Kristin will send it out to the group.  Kate Kerin told us she is using part of Sue’s 6/10 presentation to educate some of her neighbors on the subject.  Great idea!
  • P&Z Meeting of 6/22/21
    • Ginger did not make her public comment as the meeting did not have a quorum at first and started late.  She may make those comments at the next meeting (7/13/21).
    • Chair Argionis made another statement in his own defense and accused others of being “mean-spirited” and “misinformed” (in apparent reference to Commissioner Mills’s letter, Ginger Pennington’s FOIA requests, and comments calling for transparency of the Comp Plan process).  The statement came at the very end of the meeting and was not on the agenda.  So far, the Chair has not apologized for any of his emails that came out with the FOIA documentation nor for any process issues.  He has not acknowledged that he or any aldermen did anything wrong.

Time Meeting Adjourned:  @7:40pm                                                           Next Meeting Date:  July 20th AT 7:00pm via Zoom

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