Council rewrites inclusionary rules

The Evanston City Council on Monday adopted amendments to its inclusionary housing ordinance intended to cure legal defects in the original version.

The revised ordinance would give developers of projects with more than two dozen housing units the option of making 10 percent of the units affordable on-site or contributing a minimum of $4,000 per unit to an affordable housing fund.

The cost of meeting the requirement on-site has been estimated at roughly two-and-a-half-times the cost of the contribution. So, presumably most developers would choose to make the contribution.

With the housing market softening — condo prices actually declined in Evanston last year — it's not clear whether the additional tax on new construction will discourage development.

Alderman Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward, called for a review of the ordinance in a year to see how much money it has raised for affordable housing, what the costs of administering the program have been and how much new development has occurred.

The amended ordinance was approved on an 8-0 vote. Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, was absent from the meeting.

As adopted the original ordinance lacked the on-site option, and the city's law department concluded that turned the requirement into an impact fee, a type of imposition that's disfavored by Illinois courts.

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