Recap: City Council


Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting, at which aldermen are scheduled to approve the 2020 budget.

A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 7:45 p.m.

Meeting starts with public hearings on special service area proposals

Public Hearing

One property owner on Central Street objects to the new SSAs there.

Dan Kelch, business owner on Davis Street, supports renewal of Downtown Evanston SSA. Says it’s been a good public-private benefit to the city.

Tom Erd owner of Spice House on Central Street says the merchant association has a tiny budget now and only a few merchants now volunteer to help. Just barely hanging on, he says. Says need the SSAs to do a better job of promoting the shopping district.

Paul Zalmezak, the city’s economic development manager, says if a commercial property tenant with 1,800 square feet would pay a little over $500 annually to be in the SSA. Says residential properties will NOT be included in the SSA. Says businesses are asking to be taxed to have the services that an SSA can provide.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says the SSAs are what the business owners ask for.

Zalmezak says the SSAs are approved for 10 years with annual renewal required.

(Eight aldermen are here. Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, is leading a special ward meeting regarding a shooting incident that occurred last week.)

Public Comment

26 speakers signed up. 1:45 for each speaker. Started about 8:15 p.m.

Comment topics include the dismissal of Kevin Brown, a liquor license for Northwestern University’s Welsh-Ryan Arena, commercial events at the arena, ethics code revisions, encryption of police radio traffic, high taxes, using real estate transfer tax funds for affordable housing, solar panels on historic homes and funding for reparations.

Public Comment ends at 9:18 p.m.

Special orders of business

SP1-1040 Hinman solar panels

Appeal from denial by Preservation Commission

Peter Laundy, property owner, says the visible panels provide the largest solar collection opportunity. Says two other sites had similar installations approved by the Preservation Commisison last year.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, moves to reverse the decision of the Preservation Commission

Gets several seconds.

Alderman Mellisa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says should commend the property owner for seeking the solar installation

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says if don’t evolve will have bigger problems than how they look. Says environmental concerns should be at the forefront of our considerations.

Rainey objects to board member discussing the issue, making a motion to deny and then abstaining from the vote. Says shouldn’t have participated at all in the discussion or make the motion if going to abstain.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says need to balance climate action goals with historic preservation interests.

Says doesn’t think Preservation Commission made the right decision.

Vote to reverse is unanimous.

SP2 – Reparations fund and funding source

Source named is adult use cannabis tax revenue.

Fiske says has had questions from people about when the subcommittee meetings are.

Rue Simmons says have tentative plans for community town hall. Will work to have a standing meeting of the committee.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, praises the proposal, notes that former alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste had been working for a similar goal years ago.

Rainey says Jean-Baptiste said the effort began in 2002. Says people at National League of Cities meeting were surprised at Evanston’s effort — nobody else is doing it yet, she says. 

Rue Simmons says there were 4,000 people at the National League of Cities meeting — were in awe of us.

Approved 8-1. Suffredin votes no.

Consent agenda

Revelle asks to remove A30 (Welsh-Ryan liquor license class and P1 (parking for 1570 Oak)

Rainey asks to remove A20 (Old neighborhood grill liquor liences

Fiske asks to remove A3 (Hacienda landscaping contract)

Wilson asks to remove A28 (code of ethics)

Suffredin asks to remove SP10 (the 2020 budget)

Fleming asks to remove SP6 (library tax levy) SP4 (city Tax Levy)

Storlie says A29 (solid waste houling license) should be removed for housekeeping issue.

Rainey SP3 (adult use cannabis) is off

After those deletions, rest of consent agenda is approved 9–0.

SP3 – Adult use cannabis retailers’ tax

Amended to say money goes to reparations fund on an 8-1 vote with Suffredin votes no.

As amended, ordinance approved 8-1 with Suffredin voting no.

SP4 – City tax levy

… 10.8% increase over this year’s levy.

Fleming says she’s not convinced that residential tax bills will actually go down because of the increase in commercial assessments as projected.

Approved 7-2. Suffredin and Fleming vote no.

SP6 – Library tax levy

… 8.5% increase over last year.

Fleming says should have closed CAMS branch with opening of Crown branch.

Rainey says she agrees — too many branches.

Approved 6-3. Suffredin, Rainey and Fleming vote no.

SP10 – 2020 City Budget

Fleming says people are most frustrated by parking fee increases.

Says citizens are going to feel like we haven’t made enough cuts to justify the budget.

Approved 7-2. Suffredin and Fleming vote no.

A3- Harbert Park renovations contract wtih Harcienda Landscaping.

Fiske asks about parks scorecard — says Harbert is one of the lowest ranked on the parks scorecard.

Lara Biggs says got a call for projects from the state grant program. Says the program looks for parks in low income areas and Harbert fit (as well as being low scoring).

Braithwaite thanks staff for moving the project forward.

Approved 8-0. (Wynne is absent for this one.)

A20 – Old Neighborhood Grill liquor license.

Rainey says restaurant hadn’t had liquor license since September.

Says the story is really quite difficult. Lot of it was beyond the owner’s control. Need to get this guy back into business.

Approved (with final approval tonight) 9-0.

A28 – Code of Ethics.

Wilson moves to add “after is known or should have been known” to 30 day deadline

Wilson moves to add “or first class mail if so elected by the complainant” after “email” for notifications.

Amendments approved unanimously.

Rainey asks about complaint being confidential until after jurisdictional ruling.

Wilson says can’t keep the person who files the complaint from sharing it.

Fleming says she thinks the new version makes a lot more sense than the last one.

Approved 9-0.

A29 – Solid waste hauling license amendment

Interim City Manager Erika Storlie says this was left off the A&PW agenda for tonight by mistake. Wants to know whether aldermen want to take action on it tonight anyway.

Dave Stoneback, public works director, says the ordinance now exempts the hospitals and the university and a couple of other organizations.

Stoneback says the amendment is expected to generate $42K a year from those entities.

Rainey says its a great opportunity to get money from those who aren’t participating in the system.

Wilson moves it for introduction.

Alderman Revelle, acting as mayor pro tem, calls for roll call vote. Approved.

A30 – R1 liquor class for Welsh Ryan Arena

Revelle says the draft ordinance lacks many restrictions included in other liquor classes.

Says need limits on days of operation — wants to limit them to days when events are taking place.

Says no mention of hours operation — period before or after the event.

Wants to require use only of plastic containers.

Also wants limit to purchase no more than two drinks per person per transaction. — says that’s common in way alcohol sales are handled in other university arenas.

Proposes substitute motion to send back to liquor commission

Fleming seconds.

Wilson says he appreciates the points. Doesn’t think they’re particularly complex. Can leave at A&PW and have those addressed there.

Rainey says its pretty clear that this license will only be in effect for special events.

Says doesn’t think the drink limit is practical.

Says should stay in A&PW and make amendments at next meeting.

Fiske says she’s is a little concerned when people come to the mike and say there’s gonna be 7,000 people drinking and they’re all going to get drunk and destroy the neighborhood.

Revelle withdraws her motion (to send to liquor commission).

Wilson moves to send it to APW.


P1 – 1570 Oak Ave. parking more than 1K feet away

Revelle moves to hold .. to get more details on concessions to existing tenants.

Doesn’t get a second.

Wilson says plan is for owner to come back with solution on those issues before adoption at next meeting.

Approved for introduction 9-0.

Call of the Wards

Fleming — has question about recording at ward meetings. Got complaints during her ward meeting earlier this evening.

9th Ward Holiday party at St. Nicks on Friday Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. … asks to bring a coat or a warm weather item.

Also makes referral to A&PW about snow shoveling regulations.

Fiske.. 1st Ward meeting next Tuesday.

Braithwaite … ward meeting 2nd week in December.

Wilson … makes reference to P&D about solar panels.

Rue Simmons … makes referral to City Council to look at Reclaim Evanston’s proposal on affordable housing — using 50% of graduated real estate transfer tax to go to affordable housing fund.

Dec. ward meeting cancelled. Christmas party details TK.

Revelle … makes referral .. regarding nuclear weapons treaty for Dec. 9 council meeting.

Rainey … doesn’t support giving RETT to affordable housing fund. Says the affordable housing fund has $2M in it. Says shouldn’t keep skimming off general fund money — which provides police protection and other crucial services.

Council moves to go into executive session at 10:57 p.m.

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