ALBERT C. HANNA

Advocate

As a Chicago mortgage banker, Mr. Hanna was active in the redevelopment of Lincoln Park and the Near North Side during the 1960s and 1970s – the decade period in which the Gautreax litigation was filed against the Chicago Housing Authority (1966) and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was passed.

Developing Dickens Square

Al and his wife, Chris, developed one of the first cluster remodeling of seven buildings in early 1960 at Larrabee and Dickens, including Dickens Square, a seven-building rehab project in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Read more1960

Opposing the Eradication of the Four-Plus-One

From 1968 throughout the early 1970s, the demographic composite of the “masses in the city” who Mr. Hanna alleged were not being taken care of became clearer as a result of Mr. Hanna’s efforts to preserve the development of the “four plus one.” The “four plus one” was a low-rise five-story apartment building developed along Chicago’s north side Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and Edgewater neighborhoods, east of Broadway Street along the lake front. The first floor consists of the lobby and a parking lot, and the remaining four floors consisted of affordable rental units. Many of these buildings still exist.

Read more1970

Project Rebuild

In 1972, Al – a private businessman – took to what is now popularly referred to as “social enterprise.” He sought to advance a program he titled “Project Rebuild,” which was a “proposed experimental inner-city remodeling and rehabilitation program” designed to assist ‘ma and pa’ development owners renting low- to moderate-priced housing.

Read more1972

Challenging the City’s Arbitrary Use of Zoning as Unconstitutional

On October 28, 1997, the Chicago City Council enacted a rezoning – or what Al characterizes as a “downzoning,” or a zoning amendment process whereby the permissible bulk (size) and density (number of units) of a new building on a given piece of property is reduced - of a nine block area in the Chicago north side neighborhood of Lincoln Park, where Al resides. In 1998, he brought a facial constitutional challenge to the downzoning ordinance in the Circuit Court of Cook County and asserted that the rezoning ordinance violated his substantive due process rights.

Read more1997

Challenging the SD-19 Overlay District

On December 22, 1998, the Chicago City Council enacted SD-19, Lincoln Central Special District (“LCSD”), which was an amendment to the City’s zoning ordinance. The LCSD was divided into two sub-areas, A and B. A provision of the designation placed a height limitation on new residential buildings. It also reduced the floor area ratio (“FAR”), which reduced the square foot dwelling. Al’s property was located in sub-area A.

Read more1998

Challenging a Citywide Height Limitation

On April 20, 2000, the City of Chicago adopted a citywide height limitation on residential properties zoned R4 (3-Flat or Townhouse) and R5 (Multi-Unit). Al alleged that the new height limitation reduced the feasibility of building, and thus the availability of low and moderate-income multi-family housing.

Read more2000

Advocating for Changed Policies

Between 2002 and 2007, Al made numerous presentations to the Cook County and Chicago Bar Associations, the Leadership Council for Open Communities, the Lawyer’s Committee for Better Housing, the American Institute of Architects, the Builders Association, the Economic Development Council, newspapers including the Chicago Sun-Times, and local universities including DePaul University on what he termed Chicago’s “modern day Jim Crow Laws,” or “zoning for the privileged.” The statistical bases of his presentations included publicly available data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau and Cook County Assessor’s office, for example, but also included original source materials commissioned by Al.

2002

Challenging Chicago’s Use of Landmarking

In 2006, Al was notified that Landmarking was to be filed on the Arlington-Deming District, where his long-time residence is located. At the first public meeting on the landmarking designation, the Deputy Commissioner with the Department of Planning and Development of the Landmarks Division, stated that no individual building qualified for Landmark status. Al thereafter retained legal counsel to challenge the ordinance as unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous.

Read more2006

The False Claims Act

Al files suit against the City of Chicago on behalf of the federal government under the False Claims Act for nearly $900 million in federal housing funds. Al alleges that powerful political forces have remained at work in Chicago, ensuring that the geographic boundaries of segregation remain in tact. In doing so, it is alleged that the City has failed to comply with its obligation to identify and overcome segregation as an impediment to fair housing choice. This obligation forms the basis of the City’s receipt of federal funds administered each year by HUD.

Read more2010

Developing Dickens Square

Al and his wife, Chris, developed one of the first cluster remodeling of seven buildings in early 1960 at Larrabee and Dickens, including Dickens Square, a seven-building rehab project in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.

In 1969, Mr. Hanna’s suspicion regarding the role of race in the City’s urban planning scheme was first triggered. Mr. Hanna owned properties located at 73-79 East Cedar Street, Chicago, IL 60611, the titles of which contained race restrictive covenants. Because of his legal education, Mr. Hanna understood that as a result of the 1948 Supreme Court case Shelley v. Kraemer, 331 U.S. 1, and the Fair Housing Act (FHA), these covenants were unconstitutional and thus invalid. However, Mr. Hanna continued to identify, track and analyze other policies and practices advanced by the City of Chicago that he deemed discriminatory. The population of greatest concern for him was the population with whom he could most closely identify: the less privileged, the disadvantaged, who were often the poorer ‘ma and pa’s.’

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Opposing the Eradication of the Four-Plus-One

From 1968 throughout the early 1970s, the demographic composite of the “masses in the city” who Mr. Hanna alleged were not being taken care of became clearer as a result of Mr. Hanna’s efforts to preserve the development of the “four plus one.” The “four plus one” was a low-rise five-story apartment building developed along Chicago’s north side Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and Edgewater neighborhoods, east of Broadway Street along the lake front. The first floor consists of the lobby and a parking lot, and the remaining four floors consisted of affordable rental units. Many of these buildings still exist.

Throughout the late 60s and early 1970, Lakeview residents protested continued development of the four-plus-one. According to news articles and Mr. Hanna’s own knowledge, residents alleged that the four-plus-one attracted transients, created density and traffic, and were “ugly.”

In 1971, a series of amendments to halt construction of the four-plus-one were passed through city council by a local alderman, William Singer (43rd Ward Alderman, Lincoln Park), and were subsequently adopted in what was characterized as “one of those splendid examples of compromise, Chicago City Council style.” The Chicago Tribune reported that “[w]hen two Daley administration alderman moved to defer the [4+1] amendments, two allies of [alderman] Singer replied by moving to defer a steelworkers’ housing project favored by the [Daley] administration.”

Mr. Hanna was an active and oft-quoted proponent of the four-plus-one. He recognized that the “anti-four-plus-one” ordinance would systematically reduce the availability of affordable rental housing thereby reducing lack of housing choice and increase the cost of constructing new units. His assertion remains that the “four-plus-ones” provided reasonably inexpensive rental housing close to the center of the city to a variety of populations. However, because of aesthetic issues, as well as the influx of minorities who were able to afford housing in four-plus-ones, Mr. Hanna perceived that community organizations were mustering local aldermanic privilege to pass legislation that made these new affordable units virtually impossible to build.

Mr. Hanna then filed suit against the ordinance in 1971. In the complaint, Mr. Hanna alleges that the effect of the anti-4+1 zoning ordinance is “…[t]o create a de facto system of freezing and segregating housing for the large mass of persons in the City of Chicago who are in need of such housing, to wit: people in the lower and middle income levels…”

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Project Rebuild

In 1972, Al – a private businessman – took to what is now popularly referred to as “social enterprise.” He sought to advance a program he titled “Project Rebuild,” which was a “proposed experimental inner-city remodeling and rehabilitation program” designed to assist ‘ma and pa’ development owners renting low- to moderate-priced housing.

Al presented the program in a meeting with Alderman Michael Bilandic (who subsequently became the 40th Mayor of the City of Chicago) and an attorney associate. The program’s objective was two-fold: assist the City of Chicago in adverting a future shortage of affordable housing, while also enabling the ‘ma and pa’ development owner to navigate, and to some extent circumscribe, what Mr. Hanna alleged was a overly-complicated land use regulatory scheme. During a November 10, 1972 radio broadcast on the “Project Rebuild” proposal, Al explained: “Everything in this world is discriminatory, everything favors one group or another and I am taking the position today that our [the City of Chicago] programs are directed for those with talent and money behind them and that we don’t have a program, really, for the poor that own buildings that can be implemented.” He later states, “I am worried primarily about the masses in the city who are not being taken care of…”

×

Challenging the City’s Arbitrary Use of Zoning as Unconstitutional

On October 28, 1997, the Chicago City Council enacted a rezoning – or what Al characterizes as a “downzoning,” or a zoning amendment process whereby the permissible bulk (size) and density (number of units) of a new building on a given piece of property is reduced - of a nine block area in the Chicago north side neighborhood of Lincoln Park, where Al resides. In 1998, he brought a facial constitutional challenge to the downzoning ordinance in the Circuit Court of Cook County and asserted that the rezoning ordinance violated his substantive due process rights.

Prior to its enactment, Al testified against the downzoning at Zoning Committee hearing in February 1997. After a two and a half week trial, the Court held that the City’s downzoning was unconstitutional. Of note was Judge Sidney Jones’ comment that “[t]he City of Chicago has, and had, no comprehensive plan for development…which renders its zoning decisions to become more subject to scrutiny…” He further commented that the downzoning “was not passed for public welfare or the public good, but was passed only in deference to the wishes of a few individuals.”

×

Challenging the SD-19 Overlay District

On December 22, 1998, the Chicago City Council enacted SD-19, Lincoln Central Special District (“LCSD”), which was an amendment to the City’s zoning ordinance. The LCSD was divided into two sub-areas, A and B. A provision of the designation placed a height limitation on new residential buildings. It also reduced the floor area ratio (“FAR”), which reduced the square foot dwelling. Al’s property was located in sub-area A.

In his testimony before the City of Chicago Departments of Zoning and Planning on the special district designation, Al stated, “[T]he city is losing its apartment slot to both conversions. And also the cost to build new apartments is high. The units going up in [Alderman] Mr. Natarus’s ward are very extensive. Those units are not being designed for anyone but the very, very rich and very powerful.” He later notes, “[o]ut of the 103 census tracts in the six lakefront neighborhoods, it appears that 80 percent have suffered a decline in non-white population since 1970. The movement is there. This zoning and restrictive zoning, overlay zoning is contributing to that change.”

In 1999, Al filed suit against the City of Chicago contending that the LCSD amendment to the zoning ordinance was unconstitutional. He also alleged that LCSD constituted “invidious spot zoning.” Furthermore, he alleged the creation of the LCSD violated his due process rights and was arbitrary and irrational downzoning that benefitted a vocal minority, ignoring the welfare of the community as a whole. He also alleged violations of equal protection. In support of his allegations, Al stated that the LCSD discriminated against minorities, removed affordable housing for certain segments of the City’s population, and contributed to poverty concentrations and racial segregation.

After seven years of protracted litigation and upon acknowledgement of likely defeat, the City of Chicago rescinded the LCSD designation in 2006 in an attempt to settle the case, and according to the Circuit Court of Cook County thereby rendered Mr. Hanna’s complaint moot.

×

Challenging a Citywide Height Limitation

On April 20, 2000, the City of Chicago adopted a citywide height limitation on residential properties zoned R4 (3-Flat or Townhouse) and R5 (Multi-Unit). Al alleged that the new height limitation reduced the feasibility of building, and thus the availability of low and moderate-income multi-family housing.

Al again filed suit against the City. He alleged that the new height limitation reduced the feasibility of building, and thus the availability of low and moderate-income multi-family housing. The complaint argued:

“Unless enjoined, the result of the Height Limitation will be two-fold: (a) a substantial contribution to the establishment of racially cleansed neighborhoods-the virtual elimination of minorities and others of moderate means in residential neighborhoods zoned R4 and R5, and (b) a promotion of racial segregation by forced re-clustering of minorities and others of moderate means into other, less advantaged areas of the City of Chicago and South Suburban Cook County.” Hanna v. City of Chicago, No. 02 CH 06143 (Cook County Cir. Ct. filed March 26, 2002).

In 2002, the case was dismissed because Al, who sought a declaratory judgment, would have had to serve notice of his lawsuit on every property owner in the City of Chicago, and all persons owning property within 250’ of the City’s borders. The dismissal was affirmed.

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Challenging Chicago’s Use of Landmarking

In 2006, Al was notified that Landmarking was to be filed on the Arlington-Deming District, where his long-time residence is located. At the first public meeting on the landmarking designation, the Deputy Commissioner with the Department of Planning and Development of the Landmarks Division, stated that no individual building qualified for Landmark status. Al thereafter retained legal counsel to challenge the ordinance as unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous.

Throughout the process of landmarking the Arlington-Deming District, Al identified and recorded several acts that he alleged were not in accordance with provisions of the ordinance. In support of his larger legal theory regarding the vagueness and ambiguousness, Al drew from his existing data analysis and commissioned a new composite study of the differences in building and land characteristics, which has been consistently updated with current data.

Together with a co-plaintiff, Al brought a facial challenge to a number of provisions of the Chicago Landmarks Ordinance, including the seven (7) criteria for landmarking, on the grounds that the terms of the ordinance are unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous, and that the challenged terms are an improper delegation of legislative authority to an administrative body, the Chicago City Council. The trial court originally dismissed the complaint. On appeal, a unanimous panel of the Illinois Appellate Court held that plaintiffs had stated causes of action for unconstitutional vagueness, and found that certain of the criteria and delegation provisions of the Chicago Landmark Ordinance were unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous. On remand, the trial court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss; Al’s case is now on appeal.

×

The False Claims Act

Al files suit against the City of Chicago on behalf of the federal government under the False Claims Act for nearly $900 million in federal housing funds. Al alleges that powerful political forces have remained at work in Chicago, ensuring that the geographic boundaries of segregation remain in tact. In doing so, it is alleged that the City has failed to comply with its obligation to identify and overcome segregation as an impediment to fair housing choice. This obligation forms the basis of the City’s receipt of federal funds administered each year by HUD.

Complaint

Motion to Dismiss

Order Granting Motion to Dismiss

Reply Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss

Response in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss

Reply by City of Chicago to Response in Opposition to Motion

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