The new law, which will create a system of Registered Community Organizations [RCO], embraces input from the groups and will involve them more readily in development discussions that affect their neighborhoods, according to the city.
But some of the very community groups the measure would affect say they weren’t aware of the legislation until it passed. Further, some believe the requirements to register are burdensome and could lead to the city picking and choosing who has a voice in critical discussions that change the city.
The legislation indicates that the city would notify RCOs of proposed projects that may impact their neighborhoods; mandate public meetings between RCOs and developers; and possibly formally adopt neighborhood plans that RCOs design. Currently, community groups wishing to influence development can try to work with developers, city council and planning commission members directly, speak at public meetings and develop community plans independently with hope that developers and city officials will honor them.
Written into the city law, however, is a preference that only one group per neighborhood become an RCO. “Registration of organizations with overlapping boundaries is allowed but the formation of numerous overlapping community organizations is strongly discouraged,” according to the ordinance.
“This is straight-up a piece of legislation that was designed to muffle the voices of those who are the most vulnerable elements within our particular communities and make way for even more increased gentrification,” said Khalid Raheem, an activist and North Side resident. “That’s what this whole thing is really all about.”
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