Chicago alderman Manny Flores (1st ward) and Alderman Marge Laurino (39th ward) moved an ordinance that will restrict the ability of the owners of closed grocery stores to leave a neighborhood with a shuttered building and block another grocery store from leasing the property.
(I can't imagine former First Ward Alderman Jesse Granato passing this ordinance, so congratulations to Flores and Laurino. I'm glad I worked on Flores' campaign as a former First Warder in the Ukrainian Village)
This is a real problem in Chicago, and probably around the state.
Why are these retail stores remaining closed in neighborhoods where lots of people need to buy food?
One reason is because the owner of the land agreed to a restrictive convenant that prohibits another grocery store from leasing or buying the property after the first store closes.
That's an abuse. And in the bundle of legal rights of property, that's a right that landowners shouldn't have.
This article in the Sun-Times by Fran "Don't Put Words In My Mouth" Spielman lays it out quite well.
One interesting part: Jerry Roper, a great civic business leader, had this to say about Chicago's business climate:
"Chicago has the highest commercial and industrial property taxes in the nation. We have amongst the highest workers compensation costs. We have the highest sales tax.
Seems to me that the first and the third complaints are a direct consequence of our very low 3% state income tax, our very low 5.4% state corporate income tax and our 0% local income tax. If we raised more revenue from a higher income tax, we could lower our commercial/industrial property taxes in Cook County and we could lower the sales tax as well.
And on the workers comp, the Democratic Party negotiated a reform package to lower workers comp costs, which ought to be trumpeted more than it is.