An Evanston alderman says the city needs to reform how it handles the needs of local dog owners.

A dog who doesn’t know the hassle its owner went through to let it run on the dog beach (City of Evanston photo).

An Evanston alderman says the city needs to reform how it handles the needs of local dog owners.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, told the City Council’s Rules Committee this week that she had just heard from a constituent who wanted to get a license for her dog, and get permits for the dog to use the city’s pooch park and dog beach.

“She went to the collector’s office today to purchase the dog license,” Rainey said. “She had all the proper paperwork. It went smoothly, and the person at the counter was very courteous.”

But then, she said, now that she had the dog license the woman said she’d like to get a permit for the dog park, and was told “You can’t do that here. You have to go to the Robert Crown Recreation Center to buy that.”

And what about a dog beach permit? “You can’t do that here either. You have to go to the Parks and Recreation office down the hall for that.”

“The Human Services Committee needs to take a look at this issue and fix it,” Rainey said. “There’s no reason why, when you go to the collector’s office, you shouldn’t be able to also pay for those other options.”

And, Rainey suggested, the city also needs to look at the fees it charges. In addition to the $10 annual license fee for a dog, the pooch park permit costs $45 a year, and the dog beach permit costs $60 — or a total of $115 for a dog owner who wants all three.

Rainey said her constituent said that by comparison she could get a $10 dog license from the City of Chicago and for $5 more she could have access to any pet-friendly location — dog park or dog beach — in Chicago.

And, in addition, she could buy the Chicago permits at her veterinarian’s office where she has to go anyway to get the dog the shots needed to qualify for a license.

“We just make it very complicated for people,” Rainey said. “We need to try to get everybody at one desk paying one amount.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Really, really expensive.

    Seriously, $60 for one (small!) dog beach, which you only really need to get a permit for in the off-season, when dogs aren't allowed on the rest of the beaches?  That's $20 a month per dog.  Is it so high because there's a (presumably city) employee who sits in a car outside the gate to the dog park to check that people are using tokens?

    1. Not in a car

      The city employee doesn't sit in a car. He sits at a table. And usually has a bad attitude. On occasion I've seen two city employees there.

      1. RE: Not in a car

        That could explain part of the high fees…  I have been to many dog parks and have never seen a dedicated person sitting for an entire day guarding the entrance.  Seems unneccessary and costly (even if they don't make a lot per hour).

        For the most part, people can self-regulate, and they could do spot checks likeother parks do…

  2. Chicken-fee reform needed as well

    While we're at it, the chicken coop fee needs to be reformed.  Unlike dogs which are brought all along town, chickens stay confined in a person's back yard.

    Yet, the dog owner has to pay $10 annually while chicken owners have to pay $45.  It is really ridiculous since there is no compelling interest for city government to regulate chickens once the coop site has been approved.

  3. If you want lowered fees, stop spending our money Ann

    I agree with Ann- This is ridiculous bureacracy.

    But considering Ann wants to spend all of our tax money in building out bars, she has no real right to talk about cutting any fees.

    All those fees keep the rest of our taxes low.

    How about getting rid of crazy fees and stop building out bars? Keep all our taxes lower.

    1. It is not the fees …

      It is the run-around not the money

      of course we wish everything could be cheaper but it isn't.

      Manon Kavesky

  4. I couldn’t agree more

    I have been an Evanston resident for almost 7 years, and 4 of them have been as a dog owner.

    The number of steps and the total cost to get a permit for the dog beach are more than they should be, in my opinion.

    I first purchased a dog beach permit last year, but don't plan on renewing with the current process being too involved and expensive.

    It would be nice to have a simpler process and it would be even better if it cost less. 

  5. Dog Beach

    Have you ever read all the rules and regulations for the dog beach?  It is annoying when you have a well- behaved dog  who has all its shots and is healthy to have to go through all the paperwork, etc. necessary to use the dog beach.  Last summer it just didn't seem worth the effort or the price, plus the entrance was moved so it was harder to walk there.  I remember taking my three children to the beach – no need to show evidence of shots, just a simple token purchase. 

  6. Fees for park and beach

    Streamlining the process is a good idea.   But so is re-evaluating the fee differential between the dog park-$45 for first dog/$10 each additional dog vs the Dog beach at $60 per dog.  THe dog park(POOCH park) is a joint Evanston-Skokie venture which is exculsively maintained by the Skokie Park District with a financial contribution from Evanston.  The dog beach is solely an Evanston venture.  The Dog park is open all year round and is lighted for evening use. The dog beach is seasonally limited with no lights for evening use.        Many of us with more than one dog would enjoy using the beach in the summer months as well as the park which we use year round, but it becomes cost prohibitive for many Evanston families to do so.   Let's bring equity and fairness to the fees for both of these wonderful leash free areas in our city which are enjoyed by dogs and humans alike.   Both allow dogs to be dogs and for humans to build community!!!  Lets make it affordable for all of our residents and their dogs to enjoy both the park and the beach or at minimum to not be paying more for a time limited beach than they do for a year round park..

  7. Too Expensive!

    I have bought the dog beach permit in previous years but didn't last year because the high cost just wasn't worth it.  I don't live close to the beach so my use is occassional versus daily and when I break down the per visit cost, it's hard to justify. 

    Evanston seems to make everything expensive for their citizens and we certainly don't need to pay someone to write down our pass number when going to the beach.  For that matter…what am I getting for the $10 license fee???

  8. Dog beach

    I agree with all the comments about the unnecessary difficulty of getting a dog beach pass and that the fees are too high. At least reduce the fee for the second dog.

    How about having the beach pass be a card that can be swiped to get into the beach? That would eliminate the need for paying a person to sit at the gate. and it would protect the dogs who use the beach all year round from the possibly unvaccinated dogs who use the beach when the beach is "Officially Closed".

    And while we are at it, how about a pooper scooper dispenser at the gate? Pooch Park has dispensers everywhere.

    1. I love it! Ask for more

      I love it! Ask for more services at a lower price. I would say "no."

  9. Streamline dog owners’ costs to a one time fee

    How about adopting a mandatory one time fee for beach, park and license fees at one location, preferably at a veterinarians office.

    Then drop the gatekeeper at the dog beach. 

    I see no reason to register your dog with the city every year or paying annual beach or park permits. The policy is another example of government micromanaging that has gotten way out hand and incredibly inconvenient and unnecessary.

    I also see no reason why I should pay a city sticker every year when I have my own garage and plenty of street parking in my residential area. I would venture to say at least 75 percent of Evanston does not need city sticker enforcement but it's just another way the city tries and justify more revenue and more city jobs. 

    Evanston is in serious financial dire straits where taxes increased 11 percent in the past two years. But our aldermen seem to be on a campaign to find more revenue streams by creating a bag tax, banning hands free cell phone bans, closing branch libraries and rece centers, decriminalizing marijuana and ticketing people in possession of up to 10 grams of pot, increasing the parking and meter rates and so on.

    How about this – rather than raise taxes every year, nickel-and-dime Evanstonians or give $100,000 to help cash-strapped and inexperienced business owners in their risky venture to open a wine bar on Howard Street, place a pay raise freeze on ALL government union employees, close down one of the two Central Street Fire Stations and layoff some firefighters (like other cities have done). 

    That would be a sensible start. 

  10. Dog Owners
    Being a dog owner is a privilage. With that comes responsibilty and cost. Aren’t we lucky enough to have a dog beach and park? I also want to point out that Parks and Rec office is 200 ft from the Collector’s in the Civic Ctr.

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