Evanston aldermen say they want to regulate more businesses in the city.

While the city currently regulates many types of businesses, it does not now license ones — ranging from attorneys to nail salon operators — that are licensed by the state.

But Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, says she’s received complaints of serious health problems in some local businesses including hair salons and nail salons should require a city inspection program.

Alderman Cheryl Wollin, 1st Ward, said she’s concerned that some businesses may be using toxic chemicals and not storing them properly.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she’s concerned about businesses that already are licensed. She said whe went with officials on an inspection sweep of a three block stretch of Howard Street from Ridge to Clyde. “Those places that have licenses were among the most disgusting, filthy places I’ve seen.”

She said the business don’t seem to be required to meet any standards and just have to pay a fee.

City Revenue Manager Kevin Lookis said that to regulate state-licensed occupations the city would have to create an inspection program and actually conduct inspections of the affected businesses.

He said that inspections of businesses with health-related issues — including doctor’s offices and hair salons — would require hiring a new city inspector at a cost of about $75,000 a year.

He suggested charging a $75 fee for non-health-related business and $150 for health related ones. Combined those fees would just cover the cost of hiring the new inspector.

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, asked city staff to take a closer look at whether the added work could be done by existing staff.

Aldermen on the Administration and Public Works Committee tonight directed the staff to look at the staffing issue and bring back a formal proposal for the new regulatory scheme.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Have you shopped on Howard lately?
    I absolutely agree with Alderman Rainey; we desperately need some kind of minimum standards for retail businesses in Evanston. For instance, we have had real difficulty with several businesses in the Howard corridor with direct links to crime in the area; despite repeated police intervention, it’s been difficult to get them shut down, in part because of the lack of regulation.

    If we’re going to collect a fee, we should be getting something for it besides income. Let’s not confuse bureaucracy with problem-solving.

    Find out more about Brummel Park Neighbors and Michele Hays

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