Guest Viewpoint

As a proud Morgan Park homeowner, I am passionate about investing in my local community.

It is easy to take pride in the Beverly/Morgan Park community, and I want to be a part of making this an even more remarkable place to live, work and raise a family. One tangible measure to build upon this legacy that I am especially passionate about is eradicating zoning exclusively for detached single-family homes.

My conviction is that doing away with single-family zoning would make for a more fair, sustainable and just neighborhood. I am not debating personal preference around built form, subjective taste for neighborhood aesthetic or individual perspectives on neighborhood character.

Rather, I am concerned with doing the right thing.

By eliminating single-family zoning, I am advocating for the legalization of duplexes, triplexes and accessory dwelling units (ADU) on residential streets and low-rise buildings on transit corridors. A far cry from the residential towers being built downtown, these are low-density missing middle housing options that already exist throughout the neighborhood.

Eradicating single-family zoning would make for a fairer neighborhood because it gives back freedom to local property owners. Instead of upholding the liberties of private property owners, government is imposing unnecessary and undue regulation.

Single-family zoning also means that city planners are positioned against private-market forces rather than in support of the private market. It is also important to note that up-zoning means more patrons for neighborhood businesses as well as more residents to share the tax burden.

Moderate up-zoning would make for a more sustainable neighborhood because detached single-family homes are—other factors being equal—the most energy-consumptive way to live. The future of our planet demands that we as U.S. citizens live more sustainably than we currently do. Multifamily housing is better for the environment because it allows us to occupy a smaller footprint, reside in more energy-efficient homes, more productively use city infrastructure, more effectively leverage public transportation and mitigate suburban sprawl.

Finally, eliminating single-family zoning would make for a more just neighborhood. Single-family zoning was instituted in the first decades of the 20th century as a tool of racist and classist exclusion (along with red-lining and restrictive covenants, which have since been outlawed).

Current concerns of “not in my backyard” citizens echo the segregationist sentiments of a generation ago by virtue of leveraging government regulation to protect the supposed interests of a few.

Local residents have a storied history of choosing to do the right thing. Will you join me in building upon this legacy and advocating for a community that is more fair, sustainable and just?

I encourage you to support Illinois HB 4869 (which would allow for ADU throughout the state) as well as make your wishes known to 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, along with other elected representatives.

Editor’s note: Scott Kibler, a Chicago transplant from the Pacific Northwest, resides with his wife in Morgan Park. He holds a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in urban and regional planning from the University of Minnesota and works as a healthcare consultant.