Ald. Devon Reid’s push to end the ban on women going topless in public will be back on the agenda of Evanston’s Human Services Committee Tuesday.

Reid — who has insisted he doesn’t “want” topless beaches, although his proposal would eliminate the city’s only barrier to having them — has claimed that the public nudity ordinance is constitutionally defective because it treats men and women differently.

The proposal got a chilly reception from Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) the only woman on the committee, when first introduced in June.

And the city’s Parks and Recreation Board spoke out against it later that month.

For July’s HSC meeting, Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings prepared a memo challenging Reid’s claim that the ordinance is constitutionally flawed.

Cummings said he was confident the city could defend it in court.

But Reid, who represents the city’s landlocked 8th Ward, hasn’t dropped his push to repeal the ordinance.

So, for this week’s meeting, the city’s interim legal team — Julie Tappendorf and Derke Price of the Ancel Glink law firm — has prepared a two-page memo again explaining why the existing ordinance is defensible.

But the memo notes that it’s ultimately a “policy decision” for the City Council whether to modify or eliminate the current restrictions.

That suggests that those in favor of topless beaches — or opposed to them — may need to turn out for the committee meeting to expose their views on the question.

Last spring voters in Nantucket, Massachusetts, approved a measure to permit topless beaches in that island community.

But it requires the approval of the Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey to take effect, and she has delayed a decision on the proposal until December, after the November election in which she’s running for governor.

The Human Services Committee meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council Chambers at the Civic Center.

The committee is also scheduled to consider proposal to:

  • Amend the city’s fair housing ordinance to match provisions of the Cook County code regarding protections for ex-convicts and for domestic violence victims.
  • Prohibit police use of no-knock warrants.
  • Require police to provide Miranda warnings.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Ald. Reid’s proposals on allowing topless beaches and rock-throwing would would be the last straw for many who have watched the city’s crime rate burgeon over the last year. Passing either or both of them would surely bring an exodus of law-abiding, peaceful residents. I hope that the council will consider all ramifications of these potential changes and vote in the true interest of the city they represent. Do not make Evanston a magnet for further criminal activity.

  2. So with all the issues facing the city, this is what our council is doing. What a disgrace.
    This alderperson has taken the council hostage to promote his personal agenda.

    In running for election, I am sure he did not make these campaign promises.

  3. Women are not going topless because they don’t want to go topless, not because it’s against the law…. Let’s ask the women of Evanston if they want to bare their breasts..

  4. To answer the question – no. I’ve not heard anyone ask for topless beaches. Why are we wasting staff time on this when there are actual problems to solve?

  5. I am not in favor of topless beaches or any other number of what appear to be superfluous issues . I would like our community to discuss issues driving a wedge among us, gangs and guns, for a starter.

  6. Why is City mobey being used for this…we need a dog beach again. See dogs on ‘people’ beach sll the time, rules aren’t enforced even though thst could be dangerous… so who cares about someone taking their top off….?!

  7. It’s ‘same old same old’ with Ald. Reid, clearly bored & in need of constant attention, bringing up another silly non-issue to bring the spotlight back to him. I’ve said it before and will say it again – he is keeping track of hours spent on everything so that eventually he will re-visit what he really wants – and that is for aldermen (and the mayor) to receive full time salary/benefits, not a stipend.

  8. With all the problems and issues Evanston is facing, why in the world is Devon Reid focusing on his topless issue. The short version is, I’m a woman and my answer is “no!”

  9. By the tone of the comments here you would think that Alderman Reid is requiring women to go topless at beach. If you think all of a sudden the South Ave beach is going to turn into Girls Gone Wild because of this, I think you’ll be sorely disappointed. I would expect even if they lifted this ban today, there would be no change to your beaches and small tiny win for freedom.

    I gotta say, I came to Evanston Now a while ago not liking Devon Reid, I think he abdicated his job as City Clerk and I’m glad he’s not doing that anymore. But if his pet causes are all net positives for freedom (Keeping Miranda Warnings, Ending No Knock Warrants, and silly ancient Ordinances) then I kind of like the guy now!

    1. That is all well and good Tom but there are many more problems the city faces (empty downtown) and his stunts are all just distractions (how do you feel about throwing rocks?). I think you’ve mentioned before that you’re a renter so you can just pick up and move. Some of us have lived here for years, have paid extremely high property taxes and are stuck with declining schools (see D65), a weak mayor and the clown show for a city council.

  10. Our downtown is half-boarded up. We have drive-by shootings and collateral damage. We have extremely aggressive panhandlers (do not conflate panhandling with homelessness, please) at more and more of our corners and outside of our stores and restaurants, and our kids don’t feel safe.

    Our police force is demoralized and understaffed. Our city employees are miserable, and churn is high.

    Our school board is a disaster, with declining enrollment and test scores.


    We’re taking down panhandling signs. We’re talking about removing ordinances about throwing rocks at people and carrying burglars’ tools. And, for some reason, topless beaches that NO ONE has asked for.

    What is the recall procedure? Devon Reid is obviously not capable of handling the job. How does his ward think he’s doing right now?

    Evanston’s poor leadership at all levels has, over the past three years snowballed to the point that many long-term residents are wondering when it will stop, how long it is before we hit the point of no return, and, if we don’t hit that point, how long it will take to repair the damage.

  11. My kids don’t feel safe walking to school because of Albany Care residents roaming the neighbors harassing even small children for money, but this is what the City Council spends time and money on? I cannot wait to move out of here.

  12. Some suggestions for Alderman Reid, as he seems to struggle with reality:
    1) City Budget – coming to terms with multiple pension responsibilities, funding for water and sewer system upgrades, maintaining a state of the art water filtration plant, assuring that all of our infrastructure has been evaluated regarding possible climactic change impact, etc.
    2) The complete lack of any observable community consciousness or social responsibility amongst many of our younger male residents
    3) Number 2 above in conjunction with the ready availability of guns and ammunition
    4) Disconnect with effective enforcement of the laws and the application of appropriate justice/consequences that are perceived as a disincentive to criminal behavior. This community is caught up in a blinding array of BS – we demand equal protection of people and property for all citizens that will create a real perception of safety for all citizens
    5) The citizens should expect nothing less than equitable and responsible policing. The police should expect the support of the entire community with the tasks they have been trusted with. Cowboy cops should be as prone to censure and/or prosecution for irresponsible acts as much as any Evanstonian from any ward.
    6) Race or social status does not give anyone an excuse or a get-out-jail card for bad behavior any more, that ship has sailed.
    7) Handgun related violence must be treated as a serious criminal offense with serious, life-impacting consequences. In addition to jail time, a convicted offender should be disqualified from receiving social or financial assistance of any kind – student aid/loans, welfare, government assistance, Medicare/Medicaid, etc. You disrespect your community, and your community banishes you.

  13. Why is that frivalous alderman wasting our time & attention when there are so many serious and urgent needs in our community?

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