Monday, May 29, 2006

Here Comes the Neighborhood

So we've all heard the expression "There goes the Neighborhood", but in my situation it is the exact opposite.

My neighborhood is being invaded by rich people.

I moved to this quiet little lake town when I decided I needed to buy a house because of the ginormous amount of taxes I pay as a single person with no kids that worked lots of overtime.

It is a quirky little town on the outskirts of Chicago, one that has lots of different classes of people. One side of the lake is really, really rich people. The other side, where I live, is more middle class. Surrounding the rich and middle class are small little houses that used to be weekend homes for the Chicago folk that have now turned into permanent residences. These tend to be the people from the "wrong side of the tracks".

So this little sleepy town has started getting a major makeover since the Supreme Court decided that a town can just take your fucking house whenever they damn well want to, whether it is for a road or to promote economic growth.

Almost to the day that this decision was passed down by our highest court in the land the bulldozers moved in. Two blocks from my house they are building condos that start at $400,000. Considering the most expensive house in my subdivision goes for around $160,000, this is a big increase.

It makes me wonder what is to come. If this decision is going to one day force me to sell my house to make room for the rich people that want to live near a big lake. Down the street the developers have acquired a piece of property and the rumor mill has said the condos going in there will start at a million dollars.

Originally I moved here because property taxes were reasonable, crime was at a minimum, and it really was such a diverse mix of individuals. Great location, reasonable priced housing, and a beautiful lake.

What more could you want? My yellow lab and I spent many a night on the public pier watching the lake at sunset. We met so many interesting people, from all walks of life.

Yet I have a feeling all of this is going to change now. The affordable housing will be gone. Taxes are going to go through the roof, causing the more modest income families to sell their homes.

Now maybe I am just paranoid. Maybe that development was really in the works for a long time and it was just a coincidence that once that decision was passed down my town started to get bulldozed to the ground.

But some how I doubt it. This town has not had the development because of those "wrong side of the tracks" people. It is just funny how two months after that passed things started to change around here, and changed rapidly.

It makes me wonder if one day I will have to sell my house because some millionaire likes the location and wants to build a bigger house on my land. The court's decision was for an office building, but I am betting greedy developers will use the whole economic growth scenario to take desirable areas from normal people to build for the rich.

Maybe I'm taking a big leap to make that connection, maybe I'm paranoid, or maybe I have just lost faith in the ability for our government to distinguish between right and wrong.

Time will tell, and oh how I hope I am wrong. Otherwise all us middle class and poor folk are going to end up living next to garbage dumps.