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2023 State of Illinois Policy Agenda

The independent Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) works with governments, businesses, community leaders, and advocacy groups to promote racially equitable and environmentally sustainable planning and policy solutions necessary for every neighborhood to thrive.  To this end, MPC’s work focuses on creating Thriving Communities, Equitable Infrastructure and Just Public Systems. This framework captures the vision for the region we seek to advance through collaborative policy development and advocacy.

Thriving Communities

All communities should have the resources needed to thrive, including accessible and affordable housing, healthy and resilient neighborhoods and community-centered planning and engagement. Policies below support inclusive growth, jobs, housing and neighborhoods as well as community wealth building. MPC will continue to support legislation that expands affordable housing supply through preservation strategies and new production and protects vulnerable residents from unnecessary displacement. These policies also mitigate historic harms and improve public health and environmental outcomes in BIPOC communities.

Create equitable opportunities to access economic benefits of water infrastructure investment.

Build an equitable lead service line replacement economy. Replacing lead service lines will invest billions of dollars into Illinois over several decades. It is imperative that people of color – who are up to twice as likely as white Illinoisans to be living in a community with toxic water infrastructure – benefit from this economic activity. Doing so will take dedicated and sustained outreach and oversight.

Encourage industrial land use practices and policies that protect environmental and human health, and promote resilience.

Revise existing industrial corridor development. Many of Chicago’s land use and zoning policies were enacted decades ago, prior to the integration of practices for meaningful community engagement. As a result, many industrial developments undermine health, community, and connectivity. The City needs to implement community-driven industrial corridor planning that prioritizes human health, environmental health, and economic development opportunities. As part of this process, the City should adopt strategic planning for the equitable placement of transportation, distribution and logistics facilities.

Equitable Infrastructure

Public and private investments need to adopt inclusive development standards and support sustainable infrastructure for all communities. These policies increase use of performance-based methods to guide infrastructure funding. Policies must also increase the amount of public and private investments in historically disinvested communities.

Plan for safety, decarbonization, and equity in transportation system.

Improve data-driven decision-making criteria and methods so they apply to integrated multimodal investments, prioritize reduced climate impacts, embed equity, and increase engagement. IDOT’s initial rollout of the performance-based planning tool (required by HB 253 passed in 2021) takes some important steps toward increased transparency in transportation investments. We will work with Illinois DOT to refine the criteria to ensure the methods used will effectively direct billions of Rebuild Illinois and federal transportation dollars to fund projects that will achieve the transportation, environmental, and equity outcomes Illinois residents want and need.

Protect vulnerable road users.

Design for safer streets by making intersections more pedestrian-friendly. Fatalities and serious injuries of pedestrians and cyclists – including children – are sharply on the rise. Illinois needs to take decisive action to eliminate these preventable tragedies. Illinois needs to change how it designs streets: current guidelines create unnecessarily wide – and therefore dangerous – street crossings. MPC supports revising turning-radius requirements for intersection designs to make our streets easier to cross on foot.

Reduce driving speeds. Speed kills: 75% of pedestrians struck by a 25mph car will survive the encounter; the pedestrian survival rate drops to 5% when the speed increases to 40mph. The State of Illinois should take action to reduce driving speeds and save pedestrians’ lives.

Just Public Systems

The public sector needs tools and internal capacity to transform inequitable systems. Additionally, government processes and structures may need to be transformed to make them more transparent and fair for all. These policies lead to codified structures, government policies and programs that advance racial equity and inclusion, sustainability, and civic participation. These policies also increase community stakeholder representation that impacts government decisions.

Ensure all federal water infrastructure investments flow equitably.

Make the State Revolving Fund work for every community. The federal Infrastructure Improvement and Jobs Act will dedicate $1.7 billion in investment to Illinois’ drinking water, stormwater, and sewer systems through the State Revolving Fund. There is some evidence that communities with higher percentages of Black and Latinx residents receive fewer benefits from  the State Revolving Fund program. MPC is working with stakeholders and State agencies to ensure low-income Black and Latinx communities get their fair share of this funding source.