The Jefferson Park Free Press

September 4, 2014

Volume VIII                                                                                                           News and Commentary                                                                                                           Issue I

                                                                                                              by  Robert Bank

A Trojan Horse Comes to Jefferson Park

Is 45th Ward Alderman John Arena’s proposal a Trojan horse, setting the table for a massive high density towering efficiency apartment building boom in Jefferson Park?

45th Ward Alderman John Arena is telling residents that his “Pedestrian Street “designation proposal will limit curb cuts and limit auto related businesses in the Lawrence and Milwaukee Avenues area, but in front of the Jefferson Park business community the Alderman is suggesting the designation will bring more development. Clearly the “Pedestrian Street” designation, because of its being adjacent to a Transportation Center extends a shift to higher density developments, and without the normal consideration for parking spaces per unit.

Under the City of Chicago’s Zoning Ordinance: 17-10-0102-B titled: Transit Served Locations, the minimum off-street parking ratios for residential uses within 600 feet of the entrance of a C.T.A. or Metra rail station may be reduced by up to 50%, and for non-residential (businesses) uses may be reduced by 100%! With a “Pedestrian Street” designation, these huge reductions in required parking spaces extend from 600 feet of a C.T.A. or Metra station entrance to 1,200 feet, allowing the jump across Lawrence Avenue, where such a development would be next to a neighborhood of single family homes.

Current B3-2 zoning requires a 1:1 ratio, 1 parking space for every apartment unit, but with the “Pedestrian Street” designation, that gets reduced to as little as only 1 parking space for every 2 apartment units.  Now you must ask yourself if only half the apartment units have parking, where are the other half of the renters going to park their cars; in front of your house perhaps?


Could the other reductions that go with Transit Served Locations also be extended by the “Pedestrian Street” designation as well? With an up-zoning from B3-2 to B3-3, and we know Ald. John Arena has shown a willingness if not an eagerness for up-zoning (cases in point: low-income city-wide senior housing at Kilpatrick and Berteau Avenues, and a proposed large apartment complex at Long and Argyle Avenues), other requirements besides parking are also reduced, possibly opening the door to 200 square foot efficiency apartments!


According to 17-3-0402-B MLA Reduction for Transit Served Location allow all projects in B-3 and C-3 districts that reduce vehicular parking from the otherwise required minimum parking standard by 50% for residential uses or 50% or more for non-residential uses, pursuant to Sec. 17-10-0102-B are eligible to use reduced lot area per unit standards as low as 300 square feet per Dwelling! … and as little as 200 square feet per Efficiency Unit!!

The City of Chicago Zoning Ordinance is not an easy read, and requires some cross checking of one ordinance with another, but see for yourself; search online for “City of Chicago Zoning Ordinance” or click on: .     






The Cheat Sheet   from Vol. II, Issue I, Feb. 8, 2004 “It’s All About the Dash (-)” and re-printed countless times. Revised Sept 8, 2009

By Robert Bank

This is the revised “Cheat Sheet”, originally from the “It’s All About the Dash” article, which first appeared in our February ’05 issue, and has been re-printed many times. The original was designed on the example of a 29,800 sq. ft. lot, which related to a specific site in the Mayfair community. The revised cheat sheet uses a 10,000 sq. ft. lot as an example, for a more simple formula. The key point is that it’s all about the dash….or more to the point, the number that follows the dash; as in B3-3.

NOTE: This chart does not take into account the huge MLA (minimum lot area) reductions that are available within a “Transit Served Location” and extended by a “Pedestrian Street” designation for Dash B-3 and above.

Example:                                          Zoning classification for B3- _                                                      Example: 10,000 sq. ft. lot

Dash 1   :                        2,500 sq. ft. minimum lot area (MLA) per dwelling unit                      Allows approx. 4 apartments


Dash 1.5:                        1,350 sq. ft. minimum lot area (MLA) per dwelling unit                  Allows approx. 7.4 apartments


Dash 2   :                        1,000 sq. ft. minimum lot area (MLA) per dwelling unit                    Allows approx. 10 apartments


Dash 3   :                          400 sq. ft. minimum lot area (MLA) per dwelling unit                     Allows approx. 25 apartments


Dash 5   :                          200 sq. ft. minimum lot area (MLA) per dwelling unit                      Allows approx. 50 apartments

Formula: Lot size divided by sq. ft. minimum; for example, if the lot size was 20,000 sq. ft., you would double the above condos allowed.


The same applies for residential zoning. The density issue especially comes into play with older homes on double-lots (50ft. x125ft.), which have 6,250 square feet or more. This type property has become attractive to developers because they can be torn down and replaced with two homes. The increased density affects not just the character of the neighborhood but also parking, school overcrowding and flooding (as green space that acted as a watershed is reduced).


Leaving a home on a double-lot under R3 zoning or greater, is like leaving a freshly baked pie on the window sill with the aroma wafting under the noses of developers. Down-zoning to “current use” such as R2 would stop the destruction of homes existing on double-lots. Note the chart below:

RS1        :           6,250 sq. ft. minimum lot area required per unit        allows 1 dwelling unit on a double-lot

RS2        :           5,000 sq. ft. minimum lot area required per unit        allows 1 dwelling unit on a double-lot

RS3        :           2,500 sq. ft. minimum lot area required per unit        *allows 2.5 dwelling unit on a double-lot

RS3.5     :           1,250 sq. ft. minimum lot area required per unit        *allows 5 dwelling unit on a double-lot

RS5        :           1,000 sq. ft. minimum lot area required per unit        *allows 6  dwelling unit on a double-lot

*a variance, or slightly larger lot may allow an extra unit.



For previous issues click on: