Evanston aldermen Monday failed to reach agreement on whether bed and breakfast establishments are a threat to residential neighborhoods.

The debate centered around how far B&Bs should be separated from each other — with Aldermen Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Melissa Wynne, 3rd ward, arguing for a separation of at least 750 feet.

But Aldermen Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, and Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, argued for a distance requirement of 500 feet or less.

“We’re acting as if B&Bs are going to be brothel-like, or party houses,” Rainey said, adding “B&Bs attract a certain kind of person — not revelers. We need to step back and think about what we’re saying here.”

But Wynne argued that when people buy a home in a single-family residential neighborhood they have certain expectations about what sort of uses will be allowed around them.

“When you permit a B&B, that alters the expectations,” Wynne said, “I don’t know why we are bending over backwards to permit as many of these as possible.”

Burrus said she’s seen no research that B&Bs deteriorate the quality of a neighborhood or bring down property values or lead to an increase in crime.

She suggested that, given all the other restrictions the ordinance would impose on  the operators, there isn’t a need for any distance limits.

Fiske argued that a commercial operation like a B&B would have “a direct impact on property values, but more impact on the feeling of a residential neighborhood as neighbors living together.”

Two other aldermen, Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, and Jane Grover, 7th Ward, expressed some reservations about the 750-foot separation rule.

Tendam said he agreed that avoiding clustering would be a good idea, but thought some other measurement technique might be better.

And Grover said she was more comfortable with a 500-foot, rather than a 750-foot limit.

The bed and breakfast issue has been on the council’s plate since last year when neighbors objected to a proposed B&B at 300 Church St. on the lakefront.

That proposal ultimately was approved by the council, but it led to demands by neighbors of the property for revisions to the ordinance to prevent similar establishments from opening nearby.

The aldermen postponed a decision on the ordinance revisions until their July 9 meeting.

Top: The property at 300 Church St. approved for use as a B&B.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. B&B’s are an attractive option

    I personally like the idea of more B&B's.  

    When we had children in college we frequently stayed in B&B's as a less expensive option to hotels.  On busy weekends on campus we could stay closer to campus than otherwise.

    I also like the idea of having places that visitors can stay when they come to visit and we don't have enough room in our house.  With all the retirement facilities going up around, they offer another option for visiting families as well.  

    As long as they have adequate parking, why not?  They aren't likely to attract roudy people and we don't have that many hotel options near by. I can't imagine that they would decrease property values. 

  2. Evanston a potential tourist trap?

    Personally, we see Evanston becoming more and more focused on business interests, with the related tax revenue possibilities, as opposed to individuals and families living here.  

    When we moved to Evanston I did not think I would be living in something with the potential to become a tourist trap.  We thought we were moving to a family-oriented safe community where our children could ride their bikes down the street, or play hopscotch on the front sidewalk, knowing the neighbors.  We did not want to worry about what type of person was currently hanging out at the neighborhood B&B, where they came from, and their reputations.

    This is yet another example of business interests prevailing.  Another example is the recent agreement to allow Trader Joe's to occupy the former Blockbuster site.  This is just what the neighborhood does not need – more diesel powered large, very noisy semi's delivering food and related products at various times of the day and night.

    Why could not Trader Joe's occupy space at the new Amli development four blocks south?  What's going to happen there?  Will that be another large retail outlet such as Mariano's?   Just wondering.

    1. Are you kidding?

      "We did not want to worry about what type of person was currently hanging out at the neighborhood B&B, where they came from, and their reputations."

      Are you kidding?  Have you ever stayed at a B&B?  People who prefer B&B's (my husband and I included) like the homey and quiet atmosphere.   They (we) are often in town for a specific function, i.e. wedding, graduation, on business, or visiting friends who cannot accommodate them.  They are not looking to party all night long; those folks stay at the hotels with the bars.

      We have met so many wonderful, thoughtful people around the breakfast table at the B&B's we have stayed in across the country.  Evanston should be welcoming B&B's, not making it difficult for them!

    2. It’s a commercial zone

      "This is just what the neighborhood does not need – more diesel powered large, very noisy semi's delivering food and related products at various times of the day and night."

      It's a commercial zone.  What do you expect to happen there?

      1. Big trucks?

        apparently you don't know much about B&Bs, unlike a restaurant, innkeepers shop at grocery stores for their food just like eveyone else. Never been or worked with a B&B that has a semi delivering anything anytime.

        1. The author is complaining

          The author is complaining about increased semi truck activity once the new Trader Joe's is built – hence my comment on the commercial zone.

          1. It’s tough

            when you have million dollar plus houses sharing an alley with commercial businesses.  But, um, they probably knew that when they bought their houses.

    3. “…what type of person is

      "…what type of person is hanging out at the neighborhood B&B"???  Well, a person like me who has been to B&B's all around the world and prefers to get the sense of a place's community rather that stay in a sterile hotel.  In many cases we are probably preferable to have in your neighborhood than your actual neighbors.

      And it's interesting that you obiously did not tour Evanston before moving here and notice that it has several business centers which most of us would like to see thrive so that our property taxes can stop skyrocketing.

  3. B&Bs good for Evanston

    at the risk of repeating the comments i made some months back when the issue of the b and b on church street came up, i will add a few more thoughts.

    my husband and i have thought seriously about applying for a b and b license, but being old fogeys, have decided we don't have the energy to do so.  so i am not suggesting something that i would not be in favor of doing my self.

    in my earlier comments, i referred to stratford, ontario.  if there ever was a sleepy, safe, county-seat-in-the- middle-of-farms town, this was it, until the shakespeare festival came to town. now it is the former from november to march, and a thriving attractive destination the rest of the year.  i doubt that anyone who had been there would describe stratford as a tourist trap, as recent commentor lisa did, although there are many attractions for tourists, i.e., shops and restaurants.  does that sound like something evanston would like?

    true, we do not have a world-renowned theater festival to draw the crowds.  what do we have?  a world-renowned university, close proximity to chicago with excellent public transportation, and tons of terrific shops and restaurants. sounds like a good fit to me.

    and what type of person typically stays in a b and b.  carousing college students? visiting motorcycle gangs?

    not really.  it's middle class visitors, probably who have already tried b and bs and like them. it's parents of nu students visiting for parents' weekend or graduation.  it's visiting scholars attending symposia or graduate students coming for a short seminar.  it's foreign and domestic visitors to chicago who would rather stay in a congenial home atmosphere with friendly breakfast companions, then hop on the el to see the sights in chicago.

    i will be brutally honest here:  the aldermen raising objections are being dutiful representatives of their constituents who are fussing, not looking at the idea objectively. 

    and again, if the aldermen are worried about property values, give a call to a realtor in stratford to see if those houses have lost value. 

    worrying about the effect of b and bs on our neighborhoods, while spending money the city doesn't really have to buy buildings and undertake new business ventures seems to be just backwards.  with b and bs the owners are taking all the risk, and their guests will, without a penny of city expenditure, be adding to our sales tax revenue, not to mention the reputation of evanston as a wonderful destination.  what do you say, chamber of commerce?  any thoughts?

    mary brugliera

  4. B&B Charm

    Every B&B I have visited, both in the United States and Europe have left me with an impression of quaint charm. These homes have opened their doors and given me the opportunity to envy the residents of small, quiet towns. They have also allowed me to explore, spend some money, appreciate the surroundings and connect with people who I would have not normally met by staying in a large hotel setting.

    Please consider this an opportunity for not only the owners of the B&B but the residents of Evanston.



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