Thursday, December 21, 2017


Good news, everybody! You can pay your property taxes early!

The final version of the tax bill just approved by Congress makes some significant changes to deductions you can take from your income, which may either (a) limit how much of your state and local income, sales and property taxes are deductible, or (b) make your standard deduction large enough that you won’t benefit from itemizing for 2018. (Or possibly both!)

But there is no new limit on how much you can deduct related to state and local taxes for 2017 (that's this year, you know, the one ending in just a few days!). And while prepaying your 2018 income taxes is not permitted under the new bill, there appears to be no such prohibition on prepaying your property taxes and claiming an unlimited maximum deduction in 2017 for taxes due in 2018 but paid in 2017.  If in the past you have usually itemized deductions on your taxes, there is a good chance you can claim a tax savings, but you have to act fast: to do so you will probably need to actually pay the tax before the end of December 2017.  Our helpful Cook County Treasurer actually saw this coming months ago (good job, Ms Pappas!) and has streamlined the process to make this payment early.  Find details on her website at

If you're unsure about whether this will benefit you, talk to a tax professional, and probably soon, because they are likely to be very very busy next week.  There's a lot of ways this might not work for you (e.g. the money is stuck in a mortgage escrow account, you'll be subject to AMT, you don't itemize already, and I'm sure many more...) but if you file a joint tax return with your spouse, own your home, and have a middle-class level income, there's a good chance you can benefit from this very special one-time-only tax loophole that's not just for one-percenters.

Also, for a probably much smaller slice of blog readers: if you make estimated income tax payments to Illinois, the 4th quarter payment is due Jan 15th, but if you pay it by Dec 31 you can deduct that in 2017 too!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Historic Site Scavenger Hunt - Sept 30, 2017 in Lincoln Square 10am - 1 pm

Forward Chicago is planning our 2nd “Where in the Square” Historic Site Scavenger Hunt. Join your neighbors for a scavenger hunt and learn more about the history of Lincoln Square on September 30, (Rain date – Oct. 1).
This fun event for all ages and abilites will be a lovely morning of learning, exploring, and discovery. Have a great time getting to know your neighbors and your neighborhood. Celebrate the finale with treats and prizes.
Pick up your maps AND bring them back to Welles Park (look for table & ballons near the Gazebo)
Rain date is October 1st 10am -1pm.
Cost is $5 per person and high school students and children free. Scholarships available.
 Be part of the adventure and discover the stories of Lincoln Square. For more information please email or click here to register.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Winnemac Block Party - This Saturday, Sept 23rd!

Winnemac Block Party 

Saturday, Sept 23rd
afternoon to evening

Image result for pumpkin 

Bring a Dish to Share, Your Own Chairs 
and Good Cheer
Grills will be available to BBQ
(We’ll meet mid-block)

Please invite neighbors and friends – all are welcome!

 Food, Fun & Games for Kids, Sidewalk Chalk Drawing, Pumpkin Decoration and other Surprises!

Street closed to traffic from 10am to 10pm between Oakley & Leavitt (please move your car by 9:30 am)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Independence Day

We've officially reached that season again: that special time in early July when many Chicagoans shoot at each other trying not to hit anybody and sometimes failing.  (So really, other than a change in intentionality, not so different from any other time of year in too much of Chicago.)  If you've come to this blog looking for information about when exactly you might visit Winnemac Park to enjoy having someone shoot in your general direction, you're out of luck. Unlicensed fireworks shows are illegal in Chicago, and (curiously) no one wants to publish a schedule for their criminal activity.  

In all seriousness -- be safe out there folks, and try to end the night with the same number of fingers as you started it.  And please keep your fireworks out of the children's playground, so our kids don't have to deal with any unexploded ordnance the next day.  You may want to pretend you know what you are doing with fireworks, but my kids certainly don't.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Big, Bigger, Biggest: Coming to a block near you!

Last week, residents asked for a development moratorium along Lawrence avenue, at least until a master plan was developed. Long-time residents expressed fears that increasing density is out of character with the neighborhood, and that commercial traffic and apartments will be too close to the idyllic single family homes and two flats that adjoin the Lawrence Avenue corridor.

In response, Alderman (and Gubernatorial Candidate) Ameya Pawar made it clear that there already was a plan, and today he released the details, and it turns out the master plan does address the concerns, but not in exactly that some residents were hoping.  Instead of keeping development away from single family homes, the new development plan flips that around: the single family homes will be kept away from the newly dense Lawrence Avenue.

This building proposed for 2247 W. Lawrence will look like a 
tiny shack compared to what's coming next.

The new plan released today calls for a major ramp up in density, much faster than previously proposed. It calls for the addition of up to 1,500 net new housing units in the neighborhood over just two years.  To provide enough space for the new development, the entire area between Ainslie and Leland (i.e. a full city block north and south of Lawrence) from Ravenswood to Western Ave, will be rezoned as B3-2 TOD (Community Shopping District / Transit Oriented Development); and all lots fronting on Lawrence will be zoned C1-5 (Neighborhood Commercial).  By up-zoning the blocks surrounding Lawrence from R-3 (Residential), planners hope to create the buffer that residents want between the higher density development along Lawrence and single family homes elsewhere in the neighborhood.

The city hopes to avoid using eminent domain to force out single family home owners, as it is a controversial and expensive tool, but it isn't ruling it out either. "I am invested in making sure that, in the long run, the community is happy" with the Lawrence Avenue streetscape, said Alderman (and Gubernatorial Candidate) Ameya Pawar. If that means "a few unhappy people need to be displaced, that's unfortunate, but really it's going be better this way. Hopefully they'll move completely out of the state, too.  I hear Indiana is great for car lovers."

To help finance the rapid displacement of single family homes on these blocks, funds will be made available via a new TIF district to be created that encompasses the side street blocks being up-zoned.  (As a side benefit, the new TIF will also help bolster the future for Chicago Public Schools, by helping to replenish what is apparently the only reliable source of funds necessary to stave off insolvency.)  Applications for development projects can be submitted immediately, and will be fast-tracked for approval by the full city council as long as construction can be completed within the two year time window ending April 1, 2019.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Winter is Coming

Good news, everybody!  Winter is coming!

Of course, that means it's also the return of street litter season, when plenty of otherwise generous community-minded folks suddenly decide that they should leave their worthless junk out in the street blocking the public way, instead of in the alley next to their trash can where it belongs.

Instead of littering, I invite you all to join me in being extra neighborly this winter: don't just shovel out your own car when it snows, but clear out all the snow and street litter from a couple of extra street parking spaces nearby too.  Your neighbors who come home after a long day's work and need a place to park will appreciate it, and I'm sure they will be out there helping clear out another few spaces the next time it snows.

Three parking spaces in the neighborhood, conveniently cleared of snow 
and other debris, and ready for anybody to park in.