The Housing Subcommittee named last August to consider reform of Evanston’s housing occupancy limits will ask the Planning and Development Committee Monday for an extra four months to review the issue.

Debate about Evanston’s cap of three unrelated persons living in a single dwelling unit has ebbed and flowed for years.

City staff last year suggested dropping the three-unrelated rule from the zoning code and relying instead on provisions of the housing code that specify minimum square footage requirements for each resident of a dwelling unit, regardless of family relationships.

Homeowners living near the Northwestern University campus who have long sought to restrict student housing on their blocks have vigorously opposed changing the rule.

But affordable housing advocates have pushed for the change — seeing the current regulation as a barrier to making housing more affordable, both near campus and through the rest of the city.

The committee last August voted to table the issue and refer it to a newly-created Housing Subcommittee.

City Council rules require that items tabled have to be reported back out to the full committee within 120 days or “fall off the table” — which would kill further discussion.

The subcommittee in January requested a first extension of time to complete its work and will be seeking a second extension on Monday.

The subcommittee last October decided to add consideration of switching from Evanston’s current system of registering rental properties to a landlord licensing scheme to its agenda.

That has brought out strong opposition from landlords and renewed discussion about the effectiveness of the city’s property standards inspection system.

The Housing Subcommittee is scheduled to hold its next meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday in Room G300 at the Civic Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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