Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Fun Never Stops At Dearborn Wholesale

A reader was driving past Dearborn Wholesale this evening and saw someone lying motionless on the sidewalk. He called for a well-being check and stayed until the police came by. Luckily, the person was just passed out, not passed away.

Where is Dearborn Wholesale's security guard? What's the use of having "NO LOITERING" signs if everyone knows this is a 24/7 Loitering Paradise? Is this what we want our retail corridors to look like? And why, after years of violations, is Dearborn Wholesale NOT getting a fence, NOT keeping its security promises, and NOT suffering any adverse consequences?


  1. As the security guard has correctly said, he can't do much when they pass out over the property line onto the public sidewalk. He could keep them off Dearborn's guardrail installed on Dearborn's property, which separates the private and public property.

    They need a fence. The property owner will be forced to get a fence. He/she can't avoid it any longer because city zoning ordinances require it around every parking lot of that size.

    However, with or without a fence, any property owner in this situation could be doing more by enforcing the tresspassing laws on his/her own property. These loiterers traverse the Dearborn parking lot to travel between the street and alley. That's tresspassing.

    There are technical details that have to be met for tresspassing laws to be enforced. Specifically, the loiterer should be notified of the boundaries of the private property and informed to stay out.

    The best way to do this is by having "No Tresspassing" signs posted on the perimeter of the property. Then, when Dearborn calls the police, the officer can do more than just ask the person to leave. The officer can cite the tresspasser as additional incentive to stay off the property. And, with the owner's permission, the officer can enforce the tresspassing law when the store is closed based upon the signs because he can prove the loiterer was notified.

  2. I have been seeing homeless people camping out atthe entrance to the building adjacant to Dearborn Parking now. You can see the doorway I am referring to in that picture. Dearborn needs to fence the entire lot thus eliminating the cut across from the alley. I would be happy to volunteer my labor if they want to cut costs. It seems they had, at one time, tried to clean up that store. It looks way better than it did 5 years ago. I am suprised they don't want to continue to contribute to the efforts to clean up the community.

  3. In all fairness, that person doesn't look passed out but rather just taking a nice afternoon nap. On the sidewalk.

    This is getting ridiculous. Replacing the guardrail with a fence would help because it'd remove their seating.

  4. It's getting harder to find a place to drink, get high, and screw on the streets in Uptown.

    Loiterer's can't drink in the in the women's Sylvia Center or the Men's REST Shelter (daytime drop-in centers for homeless). No more drinking, screwing, urinating, and defecating in the parks either.

    Where can they go to abuse themselves if the community enforces the same behavioral rules on the streets as the CHA, non-profits and city apply inside their housing? How will the low income housing providers dump and churn out the rule breakers if the rules are applied outside too? No more enabling this lifestyle.

  5. This situation has been going on for at least the fifteen years that I've lived one block away. The loiterers are experts at playing the "property line game". I used to count how many people I saw every day on my way to the CTA: it was usually 8 to 10. I've also seen mattresses set up overnight on many occasions.

    The owner doesn't need our help to "cut costs" of maintaining their property and respecting the surrounding residents. The owners apparently have total disregard for their customers also!

    Dearborn has five other locations in Chicago, and I believe their headquarters is at 2801 S Western Ave (773-254-4300). Anyone have ideas on a creative solution to this problem?

    My fantasy dream is to have Dearborn gone and a beautiful and responsible development with vibrant retail in its place. Emphasis on fantasy dream.

    If I may rant, briefly, on the use of the nice new CTA shelters as lounge/party places and crash pads, especially the one on the NE corner of Montrose & Sheridan. It's great to see CTA users in the rain/snow/wind because the shelters are otherwise occupied. The shelter at the NE corner of Montrose & Broadway even has a sign saying "shelters are for the use of CTA patrons only"! I'd rather have no shelters than provide public party spots.

    Thanks, I feel better!

  6. So what happened to this person? The picture is so sad. A person sleeping on the sidewalk wrapped in a pastel blanket with an empty baby stroller nearby? Were was this person directed to go or where was this person brought to? Were they intoxicated?

  7. It appears from what I heard at the Public Loitering event last week someone in City Government continues to delete community requests via 311 for the zoning department to address the issue of no fence around the property. Here is what I learned last summer. Uhaul at 4049 N. Broadway also did not have a fence and some of us in the community where spinning our wheels trying to get them to follow through. But then through CAPS we formed a community taskforce to address the loitering across the street. When 50 plus community members continued to meet regularly and call the Alderman’s Office the 46th ward office wrote a letter to Uhaul Corporate and about a month later Uhaul had a fence installed. But it took many of us in the community explaining that we knew the City Ordinance, I even handed a copy of the law to the Alderman’s staff member who came to one of our meetings. (I downloaded it from Uptown Update) They realized they had no choice but to enforce the law because so many of us where involved and Lorraine Swanson from the New Star was also present. You need to get it brought up at the CAPS meeting and get the Block Club to write a letter and have a lot of people sign it and then call about it until the 46th office gets on this. My guess is that if the community gets very active they will have a fence before the 4th of July. No company wants to spend thousands of dollars on a fence until faced with thousands of dollars in City of Chicago fines then it gets done. Start calling and stopping by the 46th office about this today. Can 20 people make a call today?

  8. Encourage one of the homeless people to slip off the rail and hit their head in the parking lot, encourage them to sue Dearborn for millions due to their negligence with maintaining a "safe guardrail" and be a witness at the possible trial. This would get their attention. The fence would be up within weeks!

  9. It is a really sad photo. But the person who took it also took the time to stop and make the call to the cops, who made sure the person was okay.

    And the saddest part, to me, is that there is help -- lots of help -- quite literally around the corner, yet this person, and the people who've made the Dearborn Wholesale parking lot their home, have decided against using all the services that are available here to improve their lives.

    Seriously, in Uptown, sleeping on the sidewalk is a choice, not a last resort. And that's very sad to me.

  10. It certainly is a choice. But when it is brought up our local 46th ward alderman talks about how the condo living “Bad Apples” just hate poor people. There is nothing wrong with asking everybody in a neighborhood to be a good neighbor. Being rich or poor does not give you special license to do as you please. Is this person being a good neighbor? Is asking the person in the picture to sleep in a bed in a private area so unreasonable? If I went in front of Helen’s office door and set up yard toys and wanted to play with my children blocking the office door would her staff allow me to? Then why is it acceptable when people do this type of thing in other public areas in the 46th?

  11. anon 8:47 pm correctly states that the person was not the responsibility of the security guard, since they were on the public sidewalk.

    My question is, why doesn't the security guard call the police? Is she/he blind to events a foot away from the official property? If the person who took the picture while traveling past can call, why not the security staff? If this person had been sick, and the security officer didn't call authorities, that is rather bad form, although not illegal.

  12. In Uptown, sleeping on the sidewalk is a choice, not a last resort. And that's very sad to me.

    It is sad to me too. Everyone who works with the homeless knows that there are just some people who are not ready to be helped and to help themselves. Homeless people know it too. Why is it so taboo to talk about this? In my opinion, not talking about this causes anger and stereotypes to flourish and it does not at all help the people who are ready and willing to do their part to take the help that is available.

    You can't on one hand say that these people are in your community and that everyone has a responsibility to them and then on the other hand say that they have no responsibilities too. When you do that, it makes them children (or worse) pawns in a greater ideological struggles. They are people. We need to get past these one-size-fits-all approaches that are failing to reach some people. This person is sleeping on the street for a reason and it is not because there is no place else to sleep. Is the only strategy we can think of that the streets of Uptown are for "hitting bottom"?

  13. Today I drove past and there were two guys drinking (something) in the back of the parking lot, and someone passed out in the same place as the picture, but inside the lot.

    That place is a disgrace and I can't understand why the cops, private security guard, and Daley's Iron Fence Gestapo aren't doing anything to bring it into compliance after all these years of it being that way.

  14. In re: 7:29--- The answer is "what is aldermanic privilege?"

  15. Feel free to email your comments directly to the source

  16. Dearborn Wholesale is a family-owned company. (The Friedmans) They started on the southside and through wealth and a longstanding web of connections and favors, they are probably being protected.

  17. Who knows? I found several Uptown fencing requests were axed from the system on exactly that same Feb 28, 2008 day.

    Which is a good reminder to all to only submit requests by 311 phone calls, get the tracking numbers, and call 311 back regularly to check the status. The tracking numbers obtained from the city website 311 submission system are worthless because those numbers are never entered into the 311 tracking system. (Bad, Bad system designer!)

    One explanation provided was that some defendants did not appear for their hearing. Yeah, so what? Well, so no ever follows up to set another hearing date or to send the case to the Law Department for prosecution. Funny, the city doesn't let your parking tickets go away if you don't show up in court. (Bad, Bad zoning department administrator.)

    Another explanation provided is that some 311 fencing requests were sent to wrong departments - either Buildings or Transportaton, instead of correctly to Zoning. (Bad, Bad 311 training.)

    Finally, after I tracked the requests to the wrong departments, I found that those departments killed the 311 request rather than properly sending the request back to 311 or the appropriate department. This is a departmental training problem, a failure of the department to track the outcome of it's requests, and plain laziness by the assigned worker.

    Even after finding the dead requests and being promised that they then would be forwarded, only one department actually sent an improperly routed 311 request on to the correct departmet. (Bad, Bad, departmental systems administrator, manager, and workers.)

    So, there you have it. The 311 request system has its huge, gaping holes revealed for all the world to see.

    And I'm pretty sure given that some 311 fencing complaint addresses have had "misfortunes" kill multiple requests over four years, that there people with friends in City Hall who know exactly how to manipulate the system gaps to kill fencing complaint.

  18. "Loiterer's can't drink in the in the women's Sylvia Center"

    Oh yes they can. I just saw a man last week chugging a 40 in the front doorway and entering cornerstone (part of the same operation) for lunch. I went in and demanded they call the police. Instead, they put another homeless guy out there with a bright security vest, homeless policing the homeless.

  19. I assume none of you have ever contacted Dearborn Wholesale Grocers directly in any rational manner. I spoke with the manager of the Uptown store's operations about the loitering/drinking problems last year and he was very receptive. They lengthened the time they had a hired security guard on duty and did put up the requested signage. The manager stressed that they need the support of the police to get the drunks off the sidewalk, which is public property. He seemed just as frustrated as you all seem.

    Dearborn Wholesale Grocers is not on the take with the alderman or any other city officials. They support small businesses in our neighborhood such as Sheridan Park Liquors and the grocery store underneath the Wilson el. They have consistently supported community efforts whenever asked (UCC functions and Uptown Recycling for example) and the Friedman family contributed to James Cappleman’s campaign last year.

    While everyone is entitled to their opinion and it’s clear you all care about the neighborhood, hiding behind your anonymity lessens your credibility and allows you to say ridiculous things that go beyond civil discourse ( Ultimately, you are doing more harm to the neighborhood and your cause than good by creating unnecessary conflict. Insulting your neighbors is not building a better community. It would help all of you to get out from behind your computers and contribute to the neighborhood in a more positive way. In the meantime, if you have something valid to say, say it with your name attached please.

  20. Mia, I wrote the 11:14 comment. Anger, skepticism about Chicago cronyism, and frustration got the better of me when I suggested that the family might be getting "helped." I do apologize and thank you for the reminder to me and others not to be so quick to jump to conclusions. Thanks for setting the record straight.

    The police not responding to the problem, however, comes from how the police have been directed to behave in this ward. Frustrated business owners and community members could be working together. We have been through this point ad naseum on this blog. No one from the business community is stepping up and suggesting a way for there to be better partnerships between businesses and the community in addressing mutual concerns. Help.

  21. Rac,

    I honestly don't know the answer. I'm not sure a small business has the time to prosecute trespassers, but we should look to organizaitons such as WAMA, UCC, UNC and the Chamber who are trying to do things to bring businesses and the community together in order to make positive change in the neighborhood.

    I know this isn't going to change overnight, but it's a start.

  22. Mia, I appreciate the steps Dearborn Grocers have taken so far, but the fact remains that it's still got a vagrancy problem on its property. Every time I've been past there in the past month, there've been vagrants there. 6 a.m., 5 p.m., 11 p.m. The only time the lot was empty was during the rain and windstorm on Monday night.

    I appreciate that the Friedman family has made an effort, but it hasn't been effective in addressing the continuing problems, or we wouldn't be having this discussion all over again.

    Building an iron fence around the property - and locking it during non-business hours - would be a start (and I believe that's the law for lots of a certain size). So would having a security guard during daylight hours, which is when I see most of the activity there (most of it inside the fence, on Dearnborn's property).

    If my backyard were being used at all hours for illegal activities, I'd be ticketed, fined and given a deadline to make it stop. If meeting with comunity policing, the Chamber or UCC could help out with Dearborn, great, but in the end, it's Dearborn's responsibility to take control of its own property.

    I'm not villifying the owners. It's frustrating for me as a resident and shopper to see this going on for so long on one of our retail corridors. I'd love to see the owners work on ways to effectively address the situation. Perhaps meeting with other stores with similarly large lots - but no loitering problems - would be a start. So would having a series of meetings with community policing.

  23. Oh pleeezzzz. They'd have to be blind not to see what is happening and have to be brain dead not to know they have a business responsiblity to put up that damned fence.

    The wrought iron fencing law has been out there for years. They have been asked to comply before. They just haven't. And, it's not like they can't see the fence across the street a Jewel as a good example of how that works.

  24. the Friedman family contributed to James Cappleman’s campaign last year.

    mia c

    Wouldn't the money have been better spebt complying with the ordinance to fence their parking lot? We wouldn't be having this conversation if they just followed the law, no to mention, this would certainly take the spot light off of them. Having lived here for 12 years that location has been quite an eyesore. If the Freidmans really wanted to be a positive part of the community, why not clean up their own back yard first?? It's obvious from all of these postings that most of the people that shop in the area are more than aware of the vagrant problem at Dearborn.

  25. I wanted to post a positive here. I was at the gym acorsss from Dearborn Saturday afternoon and there were 3 people sitting on the guard rail and another kicking the porta potty in the back of the lot. The security guard walked over and told them to move along. I almost ran over and gave him a high five.

  26. Perhaps Dearborn Grocers should take lessons from Aldi's Grocers. Per this past month's Crime stats:

    A crime of type "Criminal trespass: To land" was reported at 4600 block N. Broadway on April 23, 2008, according to Chicago police:

    Crime: Primary: Criminal Trespass Crime: Secondary: Criminal Trespass to Land
    Place Grocery food store
    Crime date April 23, 2008
    Crime time 7 p.m.
    Case number HP297026

  27. Wouldn't this be one of the little minimarts on the 4600 block of Broadway, not Aldi's?

    In any case, good for them for calling the police.