For about the past 20 years or so, the city of Chicago has been allowing developers to build houses that have attached garages. I’m sure it’s a wonderful feature to live in the city and have your garage literally be where the basement should go. So city folks, just like their suburban counterparts, can drive their cars inside and not have to worry about the elements as they go from the car to the house. There is also a safety element in that the well-traversed street is less likely to see criminal activity than a quieter alley.
In the suburbs, an attached garage is a great idea. In the city, it’s one of the dumbest ideas that City Hall continues to allow. Why? Because every time someone has an attached garage, the easement takes at minimum, 25-30 feet of street parking away from other residents. The flip side is that in the Lincoln Park/DePaul area, some streets are so filled with those kinds of houses, that both the street and the alley have become the homeowners’ “private playground” at taxpayers’ expense. The alley is literally only used once a week by the garbage trucks.
As I drive around the city, I’m starting to see the same sort of development occur on the Northwest Side, basically doing the same thing. How can the city allow so many potential parking spaces to be eliminated? It is bad enough that we have a 75-year parking meter deal that still has over 50 years to go. With so little parking available in the front of those areas, residents should be paying triple the taxes for that luxury. Also the look of the new development does not fit in with the character of the neighborhood.
The photo accompanying this article was taken by me on a side street less than three miles from my home. It is very interesting that while the home was being built, I didn’t hear of any major protests by the neighbors regarding it. It stands out in the neighborhood as an odd piece of architecture. The garbage cans lining the driveway do not help the curb appeal. And with the rat problem already pervasive in the alleys, what will garbage cans sitting in front bring? Also imagine after a major snowstorm, given the amount of snow the homeowner has to blow out of that driveway, where will it go? If parking is already limited, I’m sure a homeowner putting a lot of snow back onto the street will eliminate parking spaces on both sides of the driveway. Lastly, the oil and other fluid stains in the driveway can potentially hurt the value of other properties and does little to add to the curb appeal of the neighborhood.
I didn’t get a chance to talk to any of the neighbors, so I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of how they feel about that new house. But it is a reminder of how neighbors need to stay vigilant as to what is going on in the neighborhood.