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Community group Elevated Chicago wants leaders in 'car centric' city to address inequities in mass transit access

Elevated Chicago wants leaders in 'car centric' city to address inequities in mass transit access
Elevated Chicago wants leaders in 'car centric' city to address inequities in mass transit access 03:19

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Despite the city's robust public transportation system, getting around Chicago is far from a walk in the park.

CBS 2's Jamaica Ponder reports community leaders not only want to change that, they want the city to make things

"Chicago is a very car-centric city. Even if we have a great public transportation network, it's still built very much for cars first. And for people second."

Elevated Chicago, a group of community organizations, is fighting to change that. Its executive director, Roberto Requejo, said it's taken years to get a tangible solution introduced to City Hall.

"We've been working for three years and a half, on a new ordinance. The name is Connected Communities. This is the product of hundreds of people come to a table with city departments to look at what is not working around development in transit," Requejo said.

The Connected Communities Ordinance focuses on Equitable Transit Oriented Development, putting a focus on both developing the city around transit and ensuring that it's done to the benefit of all Chicagoans.

"Equitable development is development that is led by community and has community at the center of it. And, particularly, when it centers on community members that have been traditionally and historically excluded from the development process and from the table where the decisions are made," Requejo said.

In 2013, City Hall adopted a Transit-oriented development policy, to encourage developers to build closer to public transportation stops. Of those projects, 90% of them took place on the North Side of the city, and were disproportionately made into expensive high-rise apartment buildings and luxury condos.

"A lot of our planning, a lot of our development has been done without Black and Latinx people at the table and that has shown in the way that we look right now," Requejo said.

Elevated Chicago said that after speaking to their communities, three main needs remain consistent.

"People wanted to have more choices for housing and for those choices to be more affordable, especially in high cost areas, and especially in the North Side near transit," Requejo said.

"Issue number two, there is still a lot of vacant lots and lack of development in the south and the West Side, yes, next to great CTA stations. So how can we bring more investment and more development and development that doesn't cause displacement in their community," Requejo said.

"Another issue that unfortunately we've been dealing with this year, which is a lot of a traffic — cars, taking over station areas and creating issues — such as the 83 people who died last year killed by a car within walking distance of a transit station," Requejo said.

"The areas near transit should be activated and safe. And the Connected Communities Ordinance is making the changes to make that a reality. By increasing housing opportunities that are affordable and accessible, improving street and sidewalk safety, and allowing for more homes and businesses all near our transit assets," according to a TikTok video posted by the group.

Requejo added "It's never too late to reach out to your Alderman or Alderwoman letting them know to vote yes for connected communities. The vote is [Tuesday] in the zoning committee and on Wednesday in City Council."

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