Evanston aldermen this week voted to add landscaping, swimming pool supply and carpet cleaning to a list of prohibited home-based businesses.

That list already includes auto repair shops, kennels, barbershops and funeral chapels, among other occupations.

But the ordinance would give other home-based business operators a bit of a break by letting them store “lawfully parked” business vehicles at their homes and it would lift a ban on using garage space for otherwise-permitted home occupations.

The ordinance didn’t satisfy Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, who’s been campaigning for years to require all home-based businesses to be licensed and pay a fee to the city.

But Community and Economic Development Director Steve Griffin said adopting rules to accomplish that “would be a much longer process.”

He urged moving ahead with the proposed ordinance as it was drafted, saying it addresses some of the issues that have caused the most concern among residents.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she was concerned about a home day care operation being conducted in a home in which no one actually lived.

“Given the economy and technology, there’s no reason not to allow people to have a small business in their home,” she said — but she said the space ought to actually also be used as a home.

Rainey said the Health Department had inspected the property and raised no objections about it, but Griffin said that as a zoning matter a home occupation has to be in a building that’s actually used as a home, and that he’d have his staff look into the situation.

The ordinance ordinance, introduced at Monday’s City Council meeting, will be up for a final vote at the council’s May 29 meeting.

Related document

The ordinance adding to the listed of banned home-based businesses

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Thats the way to help Evanston economy?

    Does it ever dawn on the Council that prohibiting business does not help but hurts the Evanston economy?

    Yes check them out and have reasonable regulation but don't try to kill business which the Evanston economy needs.  Why send business to Skokie, Chicago, etc.?

    Face it, Evanston is not and will not be the suburban bedroom community the Council or the snob class wants.  In fact the Council by its actions to try to be every thing to everybody has assured that.

    Evanston is faced with having to increase business not kill business.

  2. Allow but license….
    I agree with the previous post. Evanston has been gentrified to the point where it is perilously close to becoming Winnetka. Why on earth would the council make it more difficult for people to become entrepreneurs? Alderman Holmes is correct, allow but license.

    As for Mr. Griffen’s contention that developing rules to govern such businesses “would be a much longer process”, than just accepting the current proposal, consider this. The US won WWII in four years. You’d think city staff could come up with the necessary regulations in a reasonable amount of time.

    1. perilously close to becoming Winnetka

      what?  really?  have you ever been to winnetka?  you must live on the NW side!

  3. Small businesses

    My husband is the owner of such a business. He runs a landscaping company out of our house.  He has two trucks that he parks in the back, never distrubing our neighbors.

    Next two garages down, are auto mechanics that work our of their garages and at the end of the block another landscaping.  We all live in peace trying to make ends meet.

    I speak for my husband that he does pay taxes.  He pays for the license to work in such communites as Highland Park and WIlmette.

    I hope our alderman do not vote for this ordinance. They should work on getting these small businesses to apply for a license and continue to be productive members of our Evanston community.

    Some people start small businesses because the job market is rough. These businesses than create jobs for local residents.

    Isn't there anything else that needs our attention in Evanston, then going after our small businesses?

  4. Licensing is out of control.

    Occupational licensing by goverments throughout the country have exploded over the past several decades, often for the wrong reasons.  Licensing should generally be reserved for limited professions where the general public is not in a position to gauge the practioner's competency and great harm could come to consumer if the practioner is incompent or engages in criminal practices.  For example, a doctor needs to be licensed because the general public is not in the position to gauge the practioner's competency, and grave harm could result from an incompetent person practicing medicine.

    On the other hand, more and more governments are attempting to license very innocuous professions, such as florists under the guise it protects the consumer.  Of course, the general public is far more capable to judge the work of a florist than a doctor, and if a florist does not provide great service no significant harm is done and "bad" florists will soon find themselves out of business.  Licensing too often serves to limit competition and increase costs.  You will find that some of the biggest proponents of licensing are those already entrenched in the profession seeking to keep others out — this harms the consumer.

    Here's some great information on the proliferation of licensing:


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