Evanston aldermen Monday rejected on a 6-3 vote a plan from Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, to require that properties with accessory dwelling units have an owner-occupant.

Revelle had argued that the the restriction was needed to assure that properties were properly maintained and to “deter speculation in residential housing.”

But Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said the city should “stop considering tenants as second class citizens.”

“There’s a huge rental market in this town and tenants take very good care of their property,” Rainey said.

The city has no restriction requiring that single family homes be owner-occupied or that owners live in multi-unit apartment buildings.

Alderman Don  Wilson, 4th Ward, said that given the difficulties in legally defining an owner-occupant, the proposed restriction “would create an environment where a sophisticated investor could game the system.”

That apparently was a reference to the city’s experience with trying to restrict bed-and-breakfast operations to owner-occupants and ending up with B&Bs that were held in limited liability companies with the on-site owner having only a tiny fractional share of ownership in the property.

Sue Loellbach and other members of Joining Forces for Affordable Housing opposed restricting ADUs to owner-occupants.

During public comment several affordable housing advocates urged aldermen to reject the restriction while two homeowners said they favored it, including Peter Miller who said “absentee landlords are only out to maximize income.”

Aldermen Judy Fiske. 1st Ward. and Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, joined Revelle in voting for the proposed restriction.

Related story

City staff balks at new coach house limits (2/4/19)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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