Aldermen hold a special meeting Monday to review plans for Evanston’s downtown — one of the few areas in the city that’s seen substantial population growth in recent years.

Block-group level data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey indicates that the population of the area in and around downtown Evanston increased by 25 percent from the turn of the century to 2015 — from 8,040 to 10,045 residents.

By contrast, the city as a whole saw its population during that period increase by less than 2 percent — from 74,239 to 75,603.

If you subtracted the increase of 2,005 downtown residents, Evanston’s overall population would have declined by 641 people.

Much of Evanston has seen population declines since 2000.

The most recent Downtown Plan was adopted in 2009, but zoning code changes that would have implemented the plan have never been approved. That means downtown development is still governed by zoning code changes adopted between 1989 and 1993.

City staff have also dusted off several earlier downtown planning documents for the aldermen to study. Those include a 2004 Downtown Visioning report, a 2004 survey of downtown property uses that updated a 1990 downtown land use report and several downtown study maps from the period 2000 to 2004.

It’s unclear at this point whether aldermen — including the three new ones elected last spring — are primarily hoping to become more familiar with the existing plan documents, or whether they will decide to embark on an effort to come up with a new plan — something that would be a fairly expensive and time consuming process when the city is facing significant budget constraints.

Monday’s meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the Civic Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Prioritize protected bike lanes

    My wife and I owned a house in Buenos Aires, Argentina until just recently. The very dense City of Buenos Aires (pop. 3.5 million) is criss-crossed with two-way protected bike lanes and one-way streets, which are much safer for pedestrians, cars and bikes than 2-way streets. One can safely reach virtually any part of the city on a bike … almost always faster than by car. At intersections with signals, separate signals are provided for cyclists.

    In contrast, Evanston has hardly any bike lanes. ​The few, occasional, non-continuous bike lanes ​in Evanston ​are shamefully unsafe, offering virtually no protection to bicyclists. These lanes put bicyclists in harms way, as they are immediately adjacent to parking lanes where a car door might unexpectedly open, causing the cyclist to either hit the door or to instinctively veer away, potentially into moving traffic.​​

    Photos at this link show ​the protected ​bikes lanes and the map shows just a portion of the Buenos Aires protected bike lane network. The yellow symbols identify locations of the FREE bike stations. Yes, absolutely free. Like ​university and healthcare. And this i​n​ a country ​that is relatively poor ​compared to the U.S.

    I urge the City to make protected bicycle lanes a priority.

    1. Wait until we get six inches of snow

      Wait until we get six inches of snow to see how poorly planned these bike lanes are. Maybe Buenos Aires is better suited for bikes and steak dinners. 

      1. Bike lanes and snow

        Buenos Aires doesn’t get snow, obviously, but it does collect liter and leaves. They have bikeway wide street cleaning machines that clean up debris every night. Obviously, if Evanston had protected bikeways snow removal equipment would need to be deployed. Duh.

    2. seconded

      I agree. Evanston has a lot of work to do to make the city more friendly for cyclists. The city is moving at a snail’s pace building a mile or two of bicycle facilities when they can get a federal money. I hope to move somewhere more bicycle friendly.

      Also 6 inches of snow can be removed with a plow. No matter what the weather is you will always see someone riding around on a bicycle.

      1. very interested to see how

        very interested to see how they are going to remove snow and ice on the new seperated lanes on chicago/sheridan this winter

        1. Why not?

          Evanston does not have the cash to purchase special equipment to clear bike lanes. How about a referendum to see how Evanstonians really feel about all the infrastructure “improvements ” to accommodate Buenos Arien bike riders. 

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