Thursday, September 30, 2010

This Could Be Huge!

Committee OKs hefty fines for crime ridden-buildings
Hal Dardick, Chicago Breaking News

A City Council committee today signed off on Mayor Richard Daley's proposal to levy hefty fines on landlords and other building owners who fail to take steps to prevent crime on their property.

The city would be allowed to declare a property a public nuisance when three crimes related to building occupants or visitors have been reported within a 90-day period.
The owner would then be given a chance to put in place a city-approved plan to solve the problems. The plans could include requirements to install lighting and maintain security cameras.

If the owner did not agree to a plan or abide by it, the city could take the owner to court and impose fines of up to $1,000. A nuisance abatement plan also would be imposed, and the owner could be fined up to $500 a day for failure to obey that plan.

Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th, said the ordinance was long overdue and called it "an absolute gem." Police Department officials also backed the measure. The Police and Fire Committee recommended the full council approve the measure when it meets next Wednesday. Continue Reading

Update: Check out "Ald. Stone rips problem building crackdown as too extreme" via the Sun-Times


  1. sounds positive. Was our Alderwoman part of the committee and how did she vote? Or, did she obstain because it's an issue she doesn't care about?

  2. This makes too much sense, no chance it passes.

  3. Combine a law like this with a community like Uptown where a large base of residents concerned about quality of life are watching, and the impact could be very positive.

    Throw in local leadership committed to following through on complaints filed under a law like this, and you could see property owners join the fight to clean this hood up instead of harboring criminals in their buildings and allowing them to terrorize our streets.

    I am sure some group will say this violates some right somewhere, but whatever. Until people, including landlords, are held responsible, nothing will change.

    As far as criminals getting pushed out of "their" homes, I could care less, and say good riddance. Get thrown out of enough buildings and winding up homeless might get one thinking twice before acting.

  4. This rocks.

    The revenue from all the crime plagued buildings in Uptown could pull Chicago out of debt in I don't know...a month?

  5. I don't know about Helen, but I remember James Cappleman talking about doing this once he is elected at the community speaking thing that the democratic group put together.

    Glad to see its being passed.

  6. Glad to see this go through, basically made the criminal ordinance a civil violation. Makes things easier on prosecutors. I didn't read it all but I believe it probably entitles the City to injunctive relief also.

  7. Here's a link to the entire proposed ordinance if anybody wants some light reading, courtesy of City Clerk Might Del Valle's office.

    Alderman Shiller is not on the Police & Fire committee that passed it. City Hall tolerates a lot of conflicts, but putting an alderman on the Police Committee when her son has a law practice suing Chicago cops is a little too awkward for even this city.

    Probably will be a useful tool for whoever wins the keys to Uptown next year.

    Goes to the full City Council next Wednesday.

  8. This is a great idea but I'm wondering - if a CHA building were a nuisance, the city would in essence be fining itself?

    You can bet Helen will vote against this, especially for her friends at Voice of the People.

  9. Hit them in their pockets!

    If you rent to criminals, the city should absolutely be able to make you take extra precautions to address the problem.

    I like that this isn't a blanket construction code approach, since one-size-fits all legislation can be messy and have unintended consequences.

  10. Ald. Stone has a different and relevant perspective:,building-crackdown-093010.article

  11. The CHA management is essentially "outsourced" and they have standard lease agreements with their tenants. Recently our neighborhood has pretty good response from the CHA when we've logged complaints with them about problem tenants and problem buildings. We have not had as much positive help from Mercy Housing when we've complained about their over 200 residents who live on my street. We often see their residents publically drinking alcohol, buying narcotics, and loitering. They seem to refuse to want to hold their residents up to the same laws by which the rest of us must abide.

  12. This does require citizen vigilance. What are all the ways to report problem buildings again?

  13. I'm a little concerned about the numbers of people thinking this is (or even might be) a great idea.
    I agree with something Miss Kitty said... if a CHA building were a nuisance, the city would in essence be fining itself?

    On the surface this proposal sounds hopeful, but there is no certainty that it will work and if it does well, it's just going to be a tiny little bandaid on a huge huge problem, much bigger than any politician in this sinking city of Chicago is willing to admit.
    So anyway... first, if it does work and some or all of these "bad" tenants are made to leave, well the problem just gets shifted to someone else. I guess to many this would be fine as long as they are not in their neighborhood, not fine to me. The problem needs to be stopped at it's roots or we will see it happen over and over, which is what we are seeing now.

    Before talking about the root of the problem... CHA housing as I understand is city owned and controlled, right? And if it is not city owned then the landlords are being forced to rent to CHA approved tenants. So I don't see where it would be fair in either case to hold a landlord responsible (and I am not defending all landlords out there, I've experienced my share of... well, not so good ones). When are we going to start putting complete and total responsibility over bad behavior on the individual committing the bad behavior, and if not the individual then their family… To be continued...

  14. I agree with the need to have multiple tools to attack the problem-causing people in and around problem-causing buildings, but I'll add my two cents: 1) the operative phrase in the proposed ordinance is "the city is allowed to take action"--that doesn't mean that it WILL. 2) if this allows the city to act, would it be helpful if it allowed neighborhood organizations, businesses, and other people to ALSO file a civil lawsuit seeking the same relief under city guidelines? 3) what does this do to make the Cook County court system to MOVE on these issues? That has to be fixed, too--one of the buildings that got WY TIF $$ for rehabs has a tenant who hasn't been paying rent AND that tenant allows its offspring (a convicted felon and known gang member) to co-habit...the management company has been in housing court to evict that tenant for more than a year...the tenant is gaming the system by NOT SHOWING UP for court dates or pleading for more time to prepare, and the judge simply "continues" the case to another date. Legal action does no good if the presiding judge isn't held to deadlines and adequate standards on these what is the answer?

  15. Wow it took less that two hours for someone protect the criminals . Poor urban terrorists living on my tax dollars. Good news, the current govt also supports you. Who will the gangs work for this election season? Thier leader is leaving

  16. Stone is BOMA's (Building Owners and Managers Association) guy in City Council

    he might as well rent out his ass to them for advertising space

  17. Sounds good....Magnolia building owners take note.

  18. I wouldn't get your hopes up high.

    Judges hate evicting people. The landlord across the street from me evicted a drug dealer. It took over nine months to get her out of the building.

    Over and over she'd go to court and plead hardship and the judge gave her more time, and more time, and more time. And usually evictions are suspended in the winter.

    Once the landlord began eviction proceedings she stopped paying rent. So she basically had nine months of free rent.

    When the sheriff put her stuff on the street, there she was crying that she had no place to go and no money to move (this despite the fact that she didn't pay her $650/month for nine months.)

    There are low income buildings that do not have problems with their tenants. The difference is a strong landlord that enforces their policies and are willing to go to the expense to evict trouble making tenants. This puts all the other tenants on notice that the landlord won't be messed with.

    I have a friend that lives in an SRO in the area. This building makes everyone sign in, tenants and guests alike. All guests of the tenant must leave the building if the tenant leaves the building. This means no one who is not on the rental agreement can take up personnal residency or hang around in the tenant's absence.

    I dislike the idea of uprooting an entire family when there is a trouble making family member or friend. However, private landlords do this all the time when they have a bad tenant.

    So why can't buildings that are CHA or other subsidized housing evict an entire family when they have a bad tenant?

  19. "So why can't buildings that are CHA or other subsidized housing evict an entire family when they have a bad tenant?"

    They can, and have. In the scattered site housing on my block, there was a family living there which included the parents dealing drugs. They had gang members out in front of their place24/7. It sounds funny in retrospect, but it sure wasn't while it was happening: these guys actually had LazyBoy recliners on the sidewalk in front of the housing, where they used to sit all day and deal drugs. If you happened to look at them for more than a moment, like if you were watering the lawn and happened to be facing their direction, they'd all get up out of the LazyBoys and start throwing gang signs in your direction.

    This was about eight years ago and I was too naive to know who to call about it or to go to CAPS. Thankfully, some neighbors did know enough to get the One Strike Law enforced and the family was evicted.

    I felt terrible about it, because they had kids and the wife was always friendly and they were really very pleasant people. BUT -- they brought a gang presence to the street. Even during the winter I could look out the window and see cars pull up to a kid standing in a doorway and that kid would give the driver a small white packet. Hour after hour, day after day.

    Once that family got evicted, our block stopped being the small white packet drive-thru. No more LazyBoy recliners on the sidewalk. The family was replaced by equally nice people who don't deal drugs.

    I felt bad for the kids when the family got evicted; who wouldn't? But is it the CHA who's the bad guy here, or is it the parents, who endangered their kids' home and stability by dealing drugs?

    As a neighbor put it: There are a lot of people who need the housing who are willing to follow the rules. These parents weren't. So they forfeited the right to live there.

    As for the family, well, they tell everyone that the CHA evicted them because they found a joint in the husband's jacket. And they ended up just two blocks away, in non-CHA subsidized housing.

  20. Landlords are responsible for any criminal activity that occurs within 1000 feet of their property? This is a good thing? Let's think about this for a second. On this site I have witnessed horrible acts of gang violence that have been filmed from locations within 1000 feet of the incident - are the landlords of these buildings liable for this activity? I guess so...

    I am a very good landlord and manage properties in lower income areas. When I do credit checks on residences I do criminal backgrounds on my tenants but legally can't do reports on their 13 year old kids. Sometimes these kids are involved in criminal activity and it may take five to six months to remove them when I discover illegal activity - eviction law definately favors tenants. So, again, why am I being punished if I am doing my best to maintain safe affordable housing? Just think about it from my perspective...please.

  21. A lot of drug dealers prefer using young kids because they know that juvenile courts offer smaller penalties and are more sympathetic to young kids.

  22. Have you been fined or reprimanded for illegal activity within 1000 feet of one of your buildings? THEN NO, you are not being punished for doing your best to maintain affordable housing. If someone, that is a known gangmember and tenant in your building, shoots somebody or deals drugs a half block down the street, should you not be held responsible for allowing him to remain in your building, and subsequently, on our neighborhood streets?

  23. I have not been fined for illegal activity that occurs within 1000 feet of one of my properties but this new law could do just that - that is just one of my concerns.

    Regarding harboring a "known gangmember", well, I could be. I don't know. They could be 11 years old now and will start their illegal activity in two years or they could be starting today and my tenant is a sweet senior citizen. However, when an incident occurs and I am notified about it how do I get rid of the tenant? I am not allowed to access criminal data on minors, have no support in court from scared tenants and police members will not show up to eviction court. Tenants get free representation that can drag the eviction on for up to a year and I am liable for all of those legal costs AND now I will get fined because I am harboring a criminal? It is not so cut and dry. Gang members have lots of help legally and these social problems shouldn't rest soley on landlords - what about homeowners too?

  24. It would also be nice if the ordinance took into account that a criminal could be causing trouble further than 1 block or 1k feet from their own place of residence.

  25. bradss, I think it's worth bringing up your concerns at the candidate forums.

  26. Everything bradss said really happens. Those conducting criminal activities are often treated better than Mother Theresa.

    We have people like Alan Mills of the Uptown People's Law Center who has learned to milk the system by representing some of the worst criminals living in Uptown.

    For example,the property management of the CCDC building on Clifton have been in court for over three years in an eviction process for one of the most violent Black P Stone Ranger leaders.

    It's disgusting that people like him and and his family have learned to milk the system without any consequences for their violent, destructive behavior.

    There is a glimmer of hope for Uptown and gangs-that-rule-the-streets thanks to people like Jadine Chou with the CHA and others who are quietly working behind the scenes to bring peace to the community.

  27. Regarding problems with Mercy Housing:

    If this is run by the Mercy order of nuns (who also run Mercy Hospital), send your complaint to the Mother Superior of the order AND a copy to Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

    Religious orders are semi-independent entities of the Catholic Church. They are pretty much free to perform the ministries as they see fit, HOWEVER the local bishop has the ultimate oversight and can call them on the carpet if their work is not seen to be in the best interests if the people they are serving.

    Allowing residents to do the "devil's work" is not in the job description of those pledged to do the "Lord's work!"

  28. anybody know if this ended up passing?