Our letter to citizens of chicago
The answer to your editorial board's question posted Dec. 14 on your website—"Could we live in a universe where TIFs aren't toxic?"—is, of course, yes. We wish Chicago was in such a universe.
Unfortunately, as you so clearly point out, there's a history of toxicity here. And the latest proposals to create new TIFs may not solve the problem. We are CIVL, the Chicago Independent Venue League, and we have our money, our time and our hearts invested in Chicago's creative economy.
Development is good for our businesses. We aren't against it. We only want to know, and citizens across Chicago want to know, what kind of development? Give us the details, and we can help refine the plan in ways that benefit our city.
Responsible development will bring desperately needed new tax revenues to our indebted city government. It will bring new blood into the city and new patrons into our venues. But when we talk about TIFs, we're talking about using taxpayers' money. And those funds should be spent on projects that benefit the entire city and all the taxpayers.
We are not trying to put up roadblocks. We simply want the whole process to go a little slower. There are three megaprojects on the drawing boards across the city, and all are asking for TIFs to pay for public infrastructure improvements. And as your own Danny Ecker noted in his recent story on these megaprojects, "it's unlikely that there would be enough demand for all of them to develop at the same time."
So let's slow the process down and open it up. Give CIVL input in the planning. We are the musical entertainment experts around here. Listen to school and park advocates. And let the new mayor and City Council make the final decisions. Along with the rest of us, they will have to live with the unforeseen consequences of rushing through this process.
ROBERT GOMEZ AND KATIE TUTEN