Let’s put it on the table: uncertainty is not good for business, and we’ve had a lot of uncertainty to contend with here in Chicago. Changes in the Mayor’s office and replacement (voluntarily or otherwise) of aldermen abound. With our current political environment, clients can become hesitant and converting window shoppers to buyers could become more challenging. This could intensify as we head towards the 2020 elections. What’s a REALTOR® to do?
Don’t panic. Some things change, but many things will remain the same — at least for the short term. Here are some pointers.
Get to know your alderman. If yours is newly-elected, stop by and introduce yourself. Get to know them and their staff. New aldermen, while knowledgeable about their community, will be seeing it from a different viewpoint when they assume office in May. They will relish the opportunity to meet REALTORS® because you market the community and know it well. If your incumbent wins re-election, do the same exact thing. New election, new four years and new opportunities abound.
Prepare for policy shifts in the new City Council. As more progressive policies start to emerge and take root, impacting the entire business community, some debates are worth monitoring frequently. Discussions on rent control, property tax and building code reform, and aldermanic prerogative will be a major focus. When the new City Council convenes in May, the Chairperson will likely change, which will result in significant changes in committees important to REALTORS® like buildings, housing, zoning and finance. The more you learn, the better you can advise your clients.
Stay on top of community news. Media has made more of what the City Council does transparent. It’s incumbent for REALTORS® to monitor what important elected officials are doing. Follow them on Twitter or other social media; make regular news searches on your ward or elected officials. Zoning changes, new local ordinances and sometimes even good political gossip are at your fingertips. The more you know about your community, the better you can serve it.
Your basic City services aren’t going anywhere. Keep in mind that City Hall isn’t moving. We all rely on their services, and most of the services our government provides will continue regardless of the administration. Building, zoning, planning and
development and housing programs may change names, but the rank and file staff largely stay intact. Police, fire and streets and sanitation will also remain in place. Don’t forget: if you have a problem, city services are available at 311, or in an emergency at 911. The City also has a new app, “Chi 311,” to help expedite certain services.
Be prepared for Ward boundary changes. While Aldermen can come and go, ward boundaries are also subject to change. The ward remap process will begin after the 2020 census is complete. If you are a developer or a commercial REALTOR® seeking to locate a business or project in one ward today, the map may change in the near future, which could mean new hurdles to complete your deal. Be sensitive to the possibility of changes to the map and be prepared.
One thing that hasn’t changed since 1883 has been the advocacy the Chicago Association of REALTORS® provides to you, our REALTORS®. We cover City Hall, Cook County, the Illinois General Assembly and all its committees and other government agencies like Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and Chicago Housing Authority. We strive to be your one-stop shop for information and assistance, and we act as your agent for reform and your defender of private property rights. We invite you to get involved in our monthly Coffee with the GADs, on the first Tuesday of the month, where we share issues of note, and offer you the chance to do the same. Let us know if you need help; we stand ready to assist.
Senior Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy