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Zoning code to get equity review

A housing advocacy group has retained a consulting firm to review Evanston's zoning code with an eye to making it more equitable.

A section of Evanston's zoning map.

Evanston-based Connections for the Homeless is working with a consulting firm to develop a report on how the city’s zoning code impacts equitable housing efforts in the community.

Sue Loellbach, manager of advocacy for Connections, told members of the city’s Equity and Empowerment Commission Thursday evening that a preliminary report from the consulting firm, Cincinnati, Ohio, based ZoneCo, is expected to deliver a preliminary report by the end of this month.

The consulting firm’s website quotes its founder, Sean S. Suder, as saying, “We recognize that zoning has been misused to perpetuate structural racial and economic inequality and injustice for over a century in America. Zoning can be a powerful and effective regulatory tool to advance equitable and just outcomes for communities.”

Loellbach says Connections is seeking a $50,000 grant from the Chicago Community Trust to expand the consultant’s work to do a more extensive analysis and conduct community outreach about possible revisions to the code.

If the grant is received, Loellbach said, “We hope by early to mid-Spring to have a report from ZoneCo that will give us some ideas of how to use the information to make recommendations to the city” and start working on reforms.

Equity and Empowerment Commission members praised the project. “This is wonderful,” Ald. Devon Reid (8th) said.

Commission member Jane Grover, a former 7th Ward alderman, called the project “extraordinary,” and suggested that someone from CMAP, the regional planning agency she works for, would likely be interested in helping provide a regional perspective for the project.

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