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Homeless Problems and Wine Tasting Focus of CAPS Meeting

Residents from the Lakeview and Lincoln Park neighborhoods on Monday took the opportunity at a CAPS meeting to voice their displeasure over a rash of bike thefts in the area as well as an increase of panhandlers, but also found a brighter topic in the upcoming Lincoln Park Wine Festival.

Residents of the CPD’s 19th district said there are large numbers of homeless people hanging out in Wrightwood Park and panhandling on Lincoln Avenue. Multiple people asked the police officers present at the meeting why — despite many complaints — the number of homeless in their neighborhood continues to rise.

IMG_1280“We can’t arrest somebody for being homeless,” Sgt. Jason Clark said. “We want to get them into housing, but there’s just so many of them.”

Other residents said they are concerned about the well-being of the panhandlers on Lincoln Avenue, noting many of them are “just kids.”

“They are out there tapping on windows,” said one attendee. “It’s dangerous. Somebody is going to get killed.”

Officer Thomas Walsh of the Chicago Police Department said the police have few options since it is not illegal for someone to beg for money unless they are within 15 feet of a bank or ATM.

“If they are being overly aggressive then yes, you can call the police and file a complaint,” Walsh said. “But if they are just out there begging for change, there is really nothing we can do.”

Many attendees also said they have had their bikes stolen recently and asked officers what they are doing to prevent thefts or recoup stolen bicycles.

“Unfortunately, (District 19) leads the city in bicycle thefts,” Clark said.

Clark told the residents to register their bikes with the city, which can be done online. The city will issue a sticker to those who register their bikes making it more difficult for thieves to sell them. If a person tries to rip off the sticker it will leave a mark on the bike where the sticker was, allows police to identify it.

Also on the meeting’s agenda was a new event called The Lincoln Park Wine Festival, set to take place on May 30-31, at Jonquil Park.

The festival’s organizer, Courtland Hickey, said the event will be very tame compared to the annual Taste of Lincoln Avenue that takes place every July in Lincoln Park.

Residents initially complained about another alcohol-centric event taking place in their neighborhood, but Hickey assured them the event was more about wine tasting than binge drinking.

“This will be a classier event than Taste of Lincoln,” said Hickey. “It should be a very low-key and interesting event.”

Hickey said tickets for the event are available on the Wrightwood Park Neighbor’s Association’s website.

CAPS meetings for District 19 are held every Monday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. at 2452 W. Belmont Ave.



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