Evanston’s Plan Commission tonight will consider zoning changes that could wipe out hair salons and barber shops at the east end of Howard Street within two years.

Acting on a request from Alderman Ann Rainey, whose 8th Ward includes the area, the commission is scheduled to vote on zoning changes that would turn what are now permitted uses in the district into special uses.

It would also require all existing businesses in the targeted categories to receive approval as special uses or close down within two years.

Rainey, who has been trying for years to eliminate storefront churches from Howard, claiming they are a blight on the neighborhood, now is targeting the 11 hair and nail salons, barber shops and other personal care retail service uses in the stretch of Howard from the CTA station west to Ridge Avenue.

A memo from Dennis Marino, the city’s planning and zoning division manager, says “a multitude of such uses within close proximity to each other may create a negative cumulative effect that deters economic development.”

The proposed regulations would also target psychics, astrologers, Tarot card readers, fortune tellers and spiritualists, although no such businesses currently exist in the area, based on a city business inventory completed last month.

The changes would create a zoning overlay district that follows the boundaries of the existing Howard-Ridge tax increment financing district.

Marino’s memo also claims that a five-year analysis showed that beauty salons and similar businesses were second only to gas stations and convenience stores in the number of police calls by business type in the Howard Street area.

On the other hand, such establishments amount to roughly 20 percent of all businesses in the proposed zoning overlay district, more than any other single category.

The memo also says that Chicago has much more restrictive zoning on its side of Howard Street, which tends to push personal service uses to the Evanston side of the street.

Rainey’s previous campaign against storefront churches has cut their number from seven to four in the past couple of years, mainly through the purchase by the city of the buildings in which the churches were located.

Top: The three hair and nail salons in this block of Howard would be among those affected by the proposed zoning overlay district (Google Street View image.).

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Alderman targets hair and nail salons on Howard

    Could we also eliminate other beauty supply stores (Elmwood/Hoyne) on howard street? I would also like to see the disappearance of corner grocery stores on Howard St. as well. While some would argue that taxes are being paid, we should encourage larger and more stable businesses along the Howard stretch.

  2. Alderman targets hair and nail salons on Howard

    If aldermen want to tamper with the private marketplace, then they should go after businesses that are a genuine nuisance, like personal trainers and spinning salons that operate to loud music, shouting and the dropping of weights.  The noise from exercise dens spills into adjacent businesses and out onto residential streets.  The care of hair and fingernails doesn't disturb anyone; I'm curious why they are subject to so many police calls.

  3. You’ve got to be joking

    Srriously Ann? 

    IF you dislike the businesses on Howard street so much, please move.

    This is not Ann Rainey's street.  STop using my hard earned money to prop up fancy businesses that you'd like to use, while simultaneously abusing your power to stop real businesses.

    Perhaps we should start spelling her name aYn  considering she behaves like one of the government bureacrats right out of Atlas Shrugged.

  4. Alderman targets hair and nail salons on Howard

    This sounds very close to discrimmination. In an environment where jobs is a major issue it appears that my home town wants to be selective about the types of legitimate businesses that pay taxes into an already cash poor system.

    The line that killed me was the one about eliminating "storefront churches" via city building purches!

    I remember a church that started in the back of The Church Street Barbershop when I was a kid. The name of the church is Bishop Moody's Faith Temple now an icon on Evanston's West Side. Imagine if Ald. Rainey was around to foil that vision. My son never would have had the opportunity to graduate from his educational academy and all of those decrepid houses he demolished to construct his church and school might still be there instead.

    The key is attracting the kind of business that you favor into the areas that work best for them. Just the mere fact that the Howard Street Station is a major transportation hub makes it extremely attractive for personal service businesses because if most of these people had cars it is unlikely that as many would ride public transit.

    This is the big problem with my home town. A few get everything their way and the rest of the city suffers…look at that Church / Dodge fiasco where the city gave all of that property to a man that turned a functional business area in my old community into a wasteland ripe now for demolition. IJS!

  5. I am not sure if the last

    I am not sure if the last poster was being sarcastic about getting larger more stable businesses in the Howard stretch. But this elitist attitude towards businesses that target a certain demographic is puzzling. Would we be more comfortable if Sallys or one of the national chains set up shop there? The fact is that they are not coming and it is left to these local people to provide this service. If Ann Rainey was a potential customer I bet her attitude would change. This need to give away our hard earned tax dollars to people who want to open wine bars is ludicrous. Maybe the problem is that the owners of these beauty shops did not take any of the city's money

  6. A patently ridiculous idea

    This is one of the most patently ridiculous ideas coming out of our city government yet.  Howard businesses cater to the residents in that area.  If those residents were not spending their money in these establishments, they would not be able to survive.  

    I am almost, but not quite loathe to point out that this idea is coming from old guard Evanston…. one of the very people who has been on our council long enough to help drive the city into the ditch it is trying to pull itself out of.  Would someone in that ward PLEASE run for alderman?  We need NEW ideas and someone who actually represents the entire constituency over there – not just the haves, but the have-nots too.

    1. Ridiculous, indeed

      Looks like sensible heads will prevail this time.  I think Ann Rainey is the chairperson of the ridiculous idea committee though.  Last year she moved to kabosh the city employee's Christmas party, which would cost the city about $10 per employee.  I am in favor of efficiency, but such a low budget event to show appreciation for a year of work by employees is not unreasonable.  I appreciate the freindly service I get when I go to the Civic Center, and I was embarrased that my city government was not willing to show that token bit of year-end appreciation to those who provide those services..

  7. Chicago business districts are improved by a similar ordinance

    As you can see, there are still viable salons on the Chicago side, even with their ordinance.  Limiting salons is not the same as eliminating them.

    I do not see that there is enough business to support all the salons we currently have; if you drive down Howard St. you will see that most of the chairs sit empty most of the time and some salons don't even seem to open their doors during business hours.  Consequently, an ordinance limiting the number of salons will allow a more diverse mix of businesses to move in, and will ensure that the remaining salons have customers.

    Empty salons don't bring customers to Howard St. any more than storefront churches do.

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