This website started with a letter to both the Elmhurst Press and the Independent. Those of you who have responded have given me hope that something can be done before every other home looks like a Walgreens.
Here is the content of my letter to the Independent dated August 9, 2006:
Remember the Elmhurst of 30 years ago? There was very little in the way of crime, the taxes were low, the trees were just beautiful, there were quite a few homes with charm and character, and there was very little noise. Has anyone tried to take a walk down a sidewalk in this town lately? Did you have to step over construction debris, go around a porta-potty blocking the sidewalk, or worse have to walk in the street because there wasn't any sidewalk at all? Do the trucks blocking the sidewalks at all hours bother you?
Do you know that according to section 44.126 of the Elmhurst municipal code commercial trucks are prohibited on residential streets in Elmhurst unless they are "making a delivery or rendering a service"? These trucks can do neither of those things by law before the hour of 7 am or after 6 pm Monday through Saturday or before 10 am Sunday. Elmhurst classifies a commercial vehicle as anything over 8000 lbs GVWR, which is a 'D' plate. It doesn't matter whether it's a white dump truck with "Bob's Concrete" written on it or a nice shiny maroon Ford F350 that looks like a personal vehicle. The way the ordinance is written, if it's got a "D" plate or higher, it's illegal. (If you really want to frustrate yourself, try getting the police to enforce that ordinance.)
We used to have building codes that required residential building sites to be fenced off, have silt fences in place to keep mud from spilling over onto neighboring property, the porta-potties had to be set back 25 feet from the sidewalk, and the precious parkway trees had to be protected from trucks crushing the roots. What do we have now? A free-for-all. In a true slap in the face to the residents who made this town what it was, we are now left to fend for ourselves in a game of Builders Gone Wild. Why did the safety requirements get tossed out? Why do the residents have to be the ones policing the after-hours work and the illegal trucks and debris?
In most towns, they have a code enforcement officer proactively patrolling the streets looking for violations. That's all the person does. In Northlake, the police do it. If there is a violation, the job is stopped and the contractor cited and fined on the spot. The job can only continue when the fine is paid. Here, the police don't even know what the codes are. Does the city know what goes on here outside the hours of 9-5 Monday through Friday? Would it be so hard to hire even ONE person to patrol the town during those hours who actually knew what to look for? Would it be so hard to put a STOP WORK order on a job until the violations were cleaned up, and require a substantial fine to resume the work? Could we stop issuing building permits to builders who have a repetitive pattern of disregarding the law? Can we raise the fines for repeat offenders? Do we really think that a builder cares about a $100 per day fine when the homes are selling for over a million dollars? To the builders who do it by the book (the one that no longer exists), congratulations. Your professionalism is a pleasure to watch because you are so few and far between.
A while back, Elmhurst was voted as the best place in Illinois to live. Mayor Marcucci patted himself on the back by saying that we had become a "graying" community, and that under his guidance things have really turned around. I'm 47 years old, and the last time I looked in the mirror I can honestly say I saw some gray there. My guess would be that quite a few of the folks in this town have some gray sprouting somewhere. By that token, my next guess is that we're the people that the mayor deems unworthy of living here.
Whatever the demographic our fearless leader is looking for, it seems that greed and the almighty dollar are king here at the moment, homeowners be damned. Property values are through the roof. Assessed values are up. Taxes are up. You benefit from those high property values only when you leave, and then you get taxed for leaving. I feel bad for my kids, because when it's thier turn to buy a home, Elmhurst won't be an option. The vacant lot around the corner now costs four times the home they grew up in.
I have many questions and few answers, but if you feel the same way and you've had enough, please contact me at email@example.com. Maybe together we can do something and share a voice.
558 Fairview Ave
Elmhurst Il 60126
After repeated attempts to get ANYONE at city hall to correct violations that were repeated on a daily basis, I became involved in trying to change the culture of our government, which requires replacing those who have no interest in changing the status quo with those who have no FINANCIAL interest in the building process. The following letter ran in the Elmhurst Press on March 28th 2007:
As a resident of Elmhurst's fifth ward, let me first say that I am not against building new homes in Elmhurst. As an example of a nicely maintained jobsite with a new home that fits the character of the neighborhood, stop by 576 Fairview. As a construction site, it doesn't get any better. It's obvious the builder cares about his neighborhood and respects the ordinances. That said, I have had my fill of home builders who violate municipal and zoning ordinances by storing materials and vehicles on parkways and sidewalks, and illegally park commercial trucks overnight on streets and residential lots. I have put together a website documenting some of the worst offenders along with some blatant violations that really should raise suspicion as to how they occurred, who looked the other way, and why.
As my wife and I took a nice spring walk this afternoon, we strolled past a recent excavation at the corner of Rex and Montrose. As is typical with overbuilding small lots, the porta potty was located on the parkway in violation of building code, and the wall of the eight foot deep hole had partially collapsed onto the freshly poured footing leaving only eight inches of ground between the sidewalk and falling into the hole. As is the case in Elmhurst, there is no one enforcing building codes or zoning violations after hours or on weekends, and a call to the Elmhurst police elicited a response to call the building department on Monday.
I have photos of this and many other ridiculous violations at www.buildersgonewild.com. I ask you as concerned citizens of Elmhurst to visit this site and ask yourself if this is the Elmhurst you remember, and if you have the power to do anything about it. There are two candidates running for fifth ward alderman, and I wholeheartedly support Chris Nybo for the seat. Chris has expressed concern about teardown abuse, the lack of enforcement and supports stronger penalties for violators. He also has the personal conviction to use the word "no". Most importantly, he doesn't have a personal financial interest in the building process. Stop by the lot at Rex and Montrose and look at the name on the realtor's sign. That type of conflict of interest is the last thing we need if we expect any kind of real challenge to the status quo.
My hope is that there is enough change in the upcoming election to stop the rubber stamping of this runaway train. Whatever ward you reside in, this election is not a popularity contest. Please educate yourselves on who stands for what by attending the bi-monthly city council meetings. This is affecting all of us and the quality of our lives, and needs to stop. Look into your candidates, decide what your best interests are as a citizen, then do the one thing you can do: VOTE.
558 Fairview Ave
The following are responses to these letters that I have received from you. I have been accused of posting only those letters which support my view, and that is NOT the case. I have posted ALL letters received with the exception of those who have asked me not to. This is a public forum and all opinions will be heard; agree with me or rip me to shreds, but please have an opinion...