CNT in the News

Lightfoot's Rideshare Fee Plan Improves Equity, But Why Not Tax Uber and Lyft Directly?

The Chicago Reporter | November 13, 2019

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed congestion fee for rideshare companies is being called regressive by Uber and its supporters — including some ministers who participated in a previous Uber campaign that Streetsblog Chicago characterized as “astroturfing.

But transportation advocates who earlier called on Lightfoot to include equity concerns in planning around congestion pricing don’t agree. Elizabeth Irvin, transportation director at the Center for Neighborhood Technology, says the new fee structure “is a more equitable structure than the current system.”

Contrary to a new poll by a coalition opposing the congestion fees that includes Uber and Lyft, the new fee structure would not in fact “harm the city’s African American and Latino communities the most.”

That’s because the new fee structure reduces the ground transportation tax slightly for shared rides in neighborhoods and wheelchair users and raises it for solo rides and for downtown rides during periods of congestion. That means the great bulk of new revenue will come from rideshare users in affluent areas – areas where the great bulk of rideshare trips occur, and areas that are also particularly congested but feature lots of public transit alternatives.

According to CNT, 71% of solo rides begin or end on the North Side, Loop, Near West Side, or Logan Square, while according to the city, most South and West Side users opt for a shared ride. Indeed, a city study found that in much of the West Side, the proportion of users taking solo trips ranges from 32% to 43%. And about 90% of South and West Side trips do not go downtown. 

CNT estimates that average fees will increase by 25 to 50 cents in most of the South and West Sides, compared with average increases of more than $2 for downtown rides. Of course, the fee is intended to encourage more users to opt for shared rides – or if they’re downtown, to use public transit – so the increase in the neighborhoods is likely to be lower.

Light-Rail Stops Boost Twin Cities Property Values, CNT Study Shows

Twin Cities Business | October 21, 2019

In the Twin Cities, residential property values are higher along the Green, Blue, and Northstar rail lines. That was the upshot of a recent study conducted by the National Association of Realtors and the American Public Transportation Association.Properties near rail stations are worth 4 percent more than similar properties farther away from transit lines, according to the study. The higher property values translate to higher rental costs, too: The cost of renting is about 7 percent higher at properties near rail stations.

The study also looked at how light rail and bus rapid transit–two kinds of fixed-guideway transit—affected properties in six other major metros between 2012 and 2016. Of the seven areas, the Minneapolis-St. Paul region actually saw the lowest boost to residential property values. Eugene, Ore., saw the greatest uptick in property values at 24 percent, with Phoenix following at 16 percent. The Twin Cities’ lower-density housing might explain the difference in property values, said David Arbit, director of research and economics for the Minneapolis Area Realtors.

The study, titled “The Real Estate Mantra – Locate Near Public Transportation,” was conducted by the Center for Neighborhood Technology. The study compared residential and commercial sales data, as well as residential rents, between 2012 and 2016.

Transit lines had an impact on access to jobs, too. The report found a total of 458,791 jobs accessible within a 30-minute commute from home for people living in the Twin Cities’ “transit shed,” which is an aggregation of properties within a half-mile radius of fixed-guideway transit stations.For comparison, people in the seven-county metro area outside the transit shed had 144,398 jobs accessible within a 30-minute commute from home. Between 2012 and 2016, rental prices near Twin Cities fixed-guideway stations increased by 8 percent compared to a 1 percent increase at properties not near those stations.

 “An increase in residential rents within transit sheds has encouraged developers and frustrated consumers,” the report’s authors wrote. “Increases in rents were between 2 and 14 percentage points higher in the public transit station area than in neighborhoods away from transit. Cities will need to keep working on housing affordability and land use policies to mitigate displacement from high-value public transit.”

Climate and Cultural Resilience Project in Chicago's West Side

Block Club Chicago | October 11, 2019

GARFIELD PARK — A Garfield Park urban farm is developing a new rain garden and functional public art installation to show how landscaping and garden design techniques can reduce stormwater and flooding damage on the West Side.

The rain garden is part of the Climate and Cultural Resilience Project, an effort by the Center for Neighborhood Technology to create community-driven strategies to enhance green infrastructure, public art and transit solutions in targeted areas of the city.

The Garfield Park site for the project is the Heartland Alliance’s Chicago FarmWorks, 407 N. Kedzie Ave.

“[These] types of investments, when done at a larger and more distributed scale, can really benefit a broader block, neighborhood, community area,” said Anna Wolf, a project manager for the Center for Neighborhood Technology working on the garden.

High-Rise, High Anxiety

Chicago Reader | October 7, 2019

One of the simplest things individuals can do to fight climate change is drive less, or not at all. That's relatively easy in much of Chicago, where there are a wealth of alternatives to private car ownership: walking, biking, Divvy, e-scooters, CTA, Metra, Zipcar, taxis, and ride hailing. It's especially convenient to live "car lite" or car free if you live near a train station or express bus service. Recently the Chicago City Council took an important step to address global warming by encouraging transit use and discouraging driving. Aldermen passed a transit-oriented development ordinance that allows additional housing density and essentially waives the usual off-street car parking requirements for new developments within a quarter mile of rapid transit stops or a half mile on designated "Pedestrian Streets."

CNT's eTOD Social Impact Calculator mapping tool allows users to analyze the financial, social, and environmental impacts of proposed developments to determine if there is adequate--or too much--parking being planned.  For one such developmetn in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, "Given the location and the mix of bedrooms, we calculate that . . . there will only be 0.17 car spaces used per unit, or about 42 spots," Haas says. "So I think [107 spaces] is plenty of parking, if not too much."

Storms, Flooding Hit Poorest Communities Hardest

Better Government Association | September 30, 2019

In the Chicago area, flooding has often disproportionately hit the south suburbs, particularly low-income communities. And it’s going to get worse with climate change.

In Chicago, 87 percent of flood damage insurance claims were paid between 2007 and 2016 in minority communities, according to an analysis by the Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology.

It’s also in towns such as Ford Heights, where nearly half the households fall below the federal poverty line and more than 90 percent of residents are black.

“With all the other needs these communities are grappling with, if you’re already struggling to make ends meet and dealing with flooding, too, it can really compound problems for low-income and people of color,” says Kate Evasic, a senior planner at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

Three Steps to Help Survive Climate Change

Crain's Chicago Business | August 23, 2019

The City Needs a Community-First Approach to Solutions

An invited op-ed by CEO Bob Dean

No city is unaffected by climate change. In Chicago, we are protected from rising sea levels and we benefit from the world’s largest supply of fresh water, but our lives will still be disrupted. Climate scientists project that Chicago will experience more frequent severe storms, more neighborhood flooding and hotter summers—and recent experience has borne out these projections.  

Climate change demands a twofold response. We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, power generation, buildings and industry. Equally important, we must adapt to the reality of a changed climate. To survive and thrive in this future, Chicago should:  

First, recognize and address disparities in climate impacts. 

Second, invest systematically in green infrastructure. 

Third, rebuild the Department of Environment. 

The climate challenge facing our city is serious, and the scope of needed action is daunting. But the city that once changed the direction of a river certainly has the grit and the audacity to thrive in the face of climate change. Does it have the political will?