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Recap: City Council

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Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting focused on affordable housing issues.

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

The meeting was called to order at 7:15 p.m.

Four aldermen are absent — Judy Fiske, 1st Ward; Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward; Don Wilson, 4th Ward, and Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward.

Public comment

2:10 available for each speaker tonight, to get the comment session over in 45 mintues.

Rose Marie Wilson Banks, of Housing Opportunities for Women, says the only one if four people who are eligible for housing assistance receive it. (HOW has developed a new property at Dempster and Pitner.)

Robbie Markus, of Evanston Development Cooperative, urges approval of attached accessory dwelling units. (City now only permits detached ADUs.)

Public comment ends at 8:19 p.m.

SP1 – Affordable housing work plan update

Sarah Flax, of city staff makes the presentation (details in packet)

No comments by alderman. Vote is to accept the report and place it on file.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says she’s opposed to taking Real Estate Transfer Tax money out of the general fund and use it for affordable housing.

Says despite what was said at public comment the city got $2 million out of the 831 Emerson project for the affordable housing fund.

Says if skim money out of general fund will have to increase other taxes — parking, water fees, etc. Says those moves would be very regressive.

SP2 – Age-Friendly Market Assessment

Sawgrass Market Assessment. Related story.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, praises effort of the Age Friendly Evanston group.

Rainey talks about home-sharing, cooperative, large scale home sharing. Asks whether looked into that.

Presenter says that there are some in Illinois — notably in Peoria.

Vote is to accept and place on file.

SP3 – Waiver of building permit fees for affordable ADUs.

Fleming says it was her suggestion. Understands that it would be a modest saving.

Rainey says understands staff report, but surprised that was so firm.

Suggests should do at least a 50% reduction in the total fees.

Revelle says its a modest gesture that the city could offer.

Erika Storlie, interim city manager, says will be additional staff work to make sure the unit remains affordable for 20 years or whatever.

Says there a lot of great things being done that require builiding permits — for non-profits, etc. If grant them sets precedent for more waivers that cut into funds.

Revelle says hadn’t realized the staff burden of keeping it affordable. Retracts support.

Hagerty suggests taking the money from affordable housing fund.

Fleming says shouldn’t give waiver to non-profits that aren’t paying property taxes.

Wynne says building permits aren’t a money maker for the city — they just recoup the cost of what it takes to iinpsect and make sure things are constructed property and to code.

Fleming moves to hold Wynne seconds. So no action tonight

SP4 – ArtSpace preliminary feasibility study

Revelle notes that Housing Commission voted against funding this.

Worries that would lead to a request for a full feasibility study.

Seemed like goal was creating an arts facility rather than affordable housing.

Johanna Leonard, community development director, says staff still feels that would be good study.

Says sees a need for housing for artists in Evanston.

Fleming says she does not support it. Says lots of people need housing.

Defeated unanimously.

SP5 – 999-1015 Howard planned development

60 unit, four-story subsidized senior housing.

Rainey says the cost is not cheap — city’s $2 million is absolutely critical to get the project done.

Approved unanimously.

SP6 – Funding from city for 999-1015 Howard development

$500K from federal HOME funds. $1.5M from city’s affordable housing fund.

Approved unanimously.

Call of the wards

Wynne  …3rd Ward town hall meeting, Lincoln School, Thursday 7 p.m.

Revelel .. 7th Ward meeting 7 p.m. Thursday at Ecology Center

Raine .. 8th Ward meeting at 7p next Tuesday at Levy Center

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