His article (pdf) this week is full of insights on what's wrong with the way the city re-zones. Frankly, he is a huge help to me in figuring this stuff out. It really is a mystery, and Joravsky cuts through it with an accurate fork and objective knife.
One quote that I found particularly enlightening was this:
"Anyone who knows anything about zoning in Chicago rolls his eyes at the mention of notification (for a zoning change). City law requires only that such letters include the applicant's name, the date, the name of his lawyer, and a brief 'description of the nature, scope, and purpose of the application.' Residents don't have to be notified of pending hearings on the proposed change, or precisely what the applicant wants to build or demolish."