While some residents fight the creation of more affordable housing in Evanston, others are hoping to create barriers to more affluent people moving here.
Despite substantial opposition from neighbors, the City Council last week voted in favor of a new affordable housing development in the 1800 block of Church Street.
Tuesday night the Equity and Empowerment Commission will ask the Housing and Community Development Committee to support proposals that would prohibit turning small apartment buildings into single family homes, increase the demolition tax and discourage developers from seeking properties to acquire.
Conversions of apartment buildings to single family homes have averaged just two per year in Evanston since the turn of the century.
Equity and Empowerment Commission Chair Karla Thomas is one of the people who deconverted a two flat. Thomas, who’s pushing to bar other people from doing what she did, says “I can’t go back in time to undo that.”
The proposed ordinance would bar any reduction in the unit count of two- to four-flat buildings, although it appears almost all the recent conversions have involved two flats turned into single family homes.
Most of the deconversions have occurred in the 2nd, 4th and 9th wards.
Different versions of the demolition tax ordinance amendment in the committee packet propose raising the fee from $15,000, plus a consumer price index adjustment, to either $20,000 or $25,000 for a single family home and also increasing fees for multi-unit teardowns.
The city’s 2023 budget indicates the demo tax raised $76,650 in 2020 and $15,453 in 2021. That suggests there were a total of six housing units demolished in that two-year period.
Most recent teardowns have occurred in the 6th and 7th wards, and the replacement homes have sold for well over $1 million.
The third proposal would prohibit what it describes as “predatory” tactics by residential real estate developers.
It would bar them from contacting a homeowner more than once in six months, once the owner had indicated he or she was not interested in selling.
The ordinance would provide for fines of $2,000 to $10,000 for each offense.
It is not clear from the wording of the proposed ordinance whether it would also apply to real estate brokers who were seeking a listing to sell the property, or only to developers who hoped to purchase the site for redevelopment to another use.