Recap: City Council


Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting at which aldermen are scheduled to discuss — among other things — the proposed schedule for recruiting a new city manager.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order at 7:53 p.m.

Mayor Steve Hagerty says Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, is expected to arrive shortly. Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, is out sick. (But he arrives after all during public comment.)

Presentation on rehabilitation of Clark Street bird sanctuary.

Interim City Manager Erika Storlie says with the snow storm coming she hopes residents voluntarily comply on snow route parking for Wednesday evening may not have to impose mandatory restrictions.

Public Comment

It’s 8:03 p.m. Thirty speakers signed up. So 1 minute 30 seconds per speaker, the mayor says.

Dan Joseph says city should remove snow plowed into crosswalks — not require residents to do it.

Pedestrians should have priority over automobiles, he says.

Carlis Sutton says city should do better job of removing snow and not put the burden on residents.

Public comment ends at 8:54 p.m.

Special items of business

SP1 – 612 Judson window replacement

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says almost all of her ward is in the Lakeshore Historic District, says she’s a strong supporter of historic preservation.

Says in this instance, have talked with the homeowner, will support their appeal.

Says plan is to use wood windows clad in fiberglass — not vinyl windows.

Says rehab has turned out to be twice as costly as expected — an extra $100K in renovation costs.

Says living in historic district do have extra costs, but owners here are not trying to evade the preservation standards.

Says in the future would never support vinyl windows.

Fiske says windows are the single most important factor in renovating a house.

Rainey says applicant had done everything humanly possible to meet the demands of the Preservation Commission — and was fiscally impossible or them to do what the Preservation Commission was requiring of them.

The real issue here is lead –couldn’t scrape the lead out of the tracks in the windows. It’s a horrible situation, Rainey says.

Think we have to be careful or only people like Jennifer Pritzker could buy these big old houses in the future. “We have to use some common sense,” Rainey says.

This is a win-win, Fiske says.

Appproved 8-0.

SP2 – Sustainability legislative update

Kumar Jensen, sustainablity and resilience officer, does presentation.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, says we clearly have a crisis and everybody needs to do their part.

Wynne says need more staffing for sustainability effort.

Suggests developing a list of what can do and what will have the greatest impact — prioritize it.

City Manager Erika Storlie says will need to act aggressively to move forward on many of these plans.

Ordinances to be proposed … soon.

SP3 – City manager recruitment schedule

Heidi Voorhees from consulting firm discusses the proposed schedule.

Fleming urges having Spanish translation service available during the process.

Suffredin asks whether communications will be subject to FOIA.

Jennifer Lin, hr director, says she’s concerned about publicly releasing information about identities of candidates — that it may dramatically shrink the pool of applicants.

Voorhees suggests OK to have finalists identified. But if have seven people as finalists — may not be willing to put their current jobs at risk. If its one of three –then they’re likely to be willing to take the risk of going public.

Braithwaite says until get to finalists spot there is no reason to release names. Says he’s fine with having finalists identified.

Says if any of his residents want to know the 250 resumes coming it — that’s a waste of time.

Voorhees says its a full employment economy and the boomer generation is retiring and then next age cohort is about a third smaller — so it makes it a challenging recruiting environment for cities. Says its not unusual now for communities to struggle to fill their top job.

Consent agenda

Off consent A16 and A18 (Suffredin), P5 (Revelle), P1, P7 (Fiske)

P2 tabled in committee.

P3 … move suspension of rules for adoption tonight. Approved.

Consent agenda approved.

A16 – Central Street parking zones

In committee voted to table until September 14.

A18 – Clearing sidewalks of snow

Wilson says “zero tolerance” provision getting criticism.

Says doesn’t know anybody who gets 100% of snow off.

Also uncomfortable with the fee structure.

Also interested in hearing from legal department says Illinois has generally held that homeowners are not responsible for accumulations of ice and snow.

Says worried that the ordinance could create a liability for homeowners if they don’t do the clearing perfectly.

Revelle says she’s heard concerns from residents about the zero tolerance aspect. Asks whether would prioritize enforcement in business districts? Says will be big change for residents to remove all snow withint 24 hours. What grace period will they have, she asks.

Johanna Leonard, communtiy development director, says respond to complaints and give people 24 hours to clear the snow before visiting a site.

Then issue a notice of violation, but that’s not a ticket. Have another 24 hours to cure. So now more than 48 hours after the end of the snow event. Then can ticket — but there’s a date set in the future or an administrative hearing. 

Generally if peopel have made attempts hearing officers generally won’t fine.

Braithwaite says need to focus on business districts. And staff has come back with reduced fee structure — thanks for that. Says staff is already devoting time to getting the word out. Says he’ll support the proposal. 

Fleming objects to requiring clearing of the corners. Says her neighbor uses snow blower first thing in the morning to clear, by time comes back from work plow has come by and plowed it in and it’s a block of ice.

Says neighbors are going to rat each other out because they don’t like the neighbor.

Leonard says if snow has turned to a block of ice –then nobody’s going to be able to get to it.

“We’re all humans and will try to work with people on this stuff,” she says.

Wilson says hears that don’t want to be harsh — but none of that is in the ordinance.

If it can’t be uniformly applied, don’t think we can pass it, he says.

Storlie says have question of what to do next. What currently have doesn’t work. What proposing isn’t what everybody’s looking for. Is there a balance or should go back to drawing board.

Reality is with very limited staff available — probably issuing 20 or fewer tickets per year.

Braithwaite says think are close. Maybe can get it ready for a vote in two weeks.

Fiske says her main concern is in business districts –to get those cleared right a way.

Says in residential areas in her ward there’s so much traffic, the snow is packed down and is unclearable.

Wynne says in 3rd Ward the business districts are much better than the residential areas.

Says has many phone calls with people who are furious that the same folks never shovel and the walks become treacherous.

Need to have it on the books that are required to get out and clear the snow.

Wynne says had 600 falls last year. So this is about the general health of everyone here in Evanston.

Maybe need to look at what Minneapolis does.

Rainey says now can’t do anything unless there’s been more than 4 inches of snow. Should make it so anytime it snows you have to clean the sidewalk.

Says thinks door hanger is sufficient for enforcement.

Motion is to hold and that’s seconded.

So no decision tonight.

P1 – Vacation rental license 2723 Noyes St.

Approved 7-1 Fiske votes no.

P5 – St. Athanasius parking expansion

Revelle says has been difficult issue. Says there’s not really a solution that’s a good one for the neighbors. Difficult balancing act. But favors the solution proposed.

Fiske says she’s going to support the neighbors. Says has a really negative impact on quality of life.

Vote is tied 4-4

Suffredin, Fleming, Fiske and Braithwaite voted no.

Hagerty says he’s got a child who goes to St. A’s so feels he needs to recuse himself rather than break the tie.

So the proposal fails.

P7 – Tree preservation ordinance amendment

Fiske says shouldn’t be able to take a tree down and pay money instead. Says should set process for staff denial with option of appeal to Council.

Wynne recommends holding the ordinance until the next meeting. Says she agrees with Fiske that should focus on protecting the most valuable trees. The replacement idea doesn’t offer sufficient protection.

So that item is held.

Call of the Wards

Revelle…Thursday, March 5 affordable housing community workshop … 

Rainey … 7p this Thursday meeting at Levy Center regarding redevelopment of the Recycling Center.

Fleming … makes referral to HSC for update on equity work and translation policy. 

Fiske … Merion Legacy planned development goes to plan commission 7p Wednesday. 1st Ward meeting March 3 at EPL.

Council votes to go into executive session and public meeting ends at 11:05 p.m.

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