Evanston lakefront residents who fear an onslaught of bed and breakfast operaters on their leafy streets suffered a setback at a City Council committee meeting this week.

The Planning and Development Committee voted 3-2 to reduce from 1,000 to 500 feet a proposed separation requirement between B&Bs.

Aldermen Don Wilson, 4th Ward, Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, and Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, voted for the 500-foot limit, while Aldermen Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, who represent the lakefront area, wanted the 1,000-foot rule.

A map created by city staff of what different separation rules would mean if applied to a sample city address that is not actually being proposed for a B&B.

David Reynolds of 204 Davis St. said the 1,000 foot distance is needed to preserve the “quiet enjoyment of neighborhoods” for residents.

Reynolds said the owner of the B&B recently approved at 300 Church St. owns three other properties on the same block. He said he was worried those would be turned into B&Bs as well.

Reynolds’ neighbor, Tom O’Brien of 210 Davis St., also argued that someone who is at least a 50 percent owner of the B&B should live in and run the operation.

Under the ownership structure of the 300 Church B&B, the resident operator only has a tiny percentage of the ownership interest in the property.

In preparation for the discussion, city staff researched bed and breakfast ordinances in several other communities — including Champaign, Oak Park and Urbana, Ill., Madison, Wis., and Charlottesville, Va.

Three of those communities impose no separation rule on B&Bs. Oak Park has a 500 foot limit. Madison imposes a 1,000 foot limit in R1 zones, but a 500 foot limit in other residential zones.

Three of the five towns require that a B&B be owner-occupied, but none specify the share of ownership the resident owner must have.

Oak Park lets an owner live in an adjacent property, and Urbana has two categories of bed and breakfast, only one of which is required to be occupied by an owner.

The bed and breakfast ordinance was introduced at Monday’s City Council meeting but sent back to committee for further revisions.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Heaven forbid!

    We sure don't want tourists to come to Evanston and enjoy the scenery and shop at our stores and eat at our restaurants.   No, we want anything to keep tourists and Northwestern parents away from the downtown area—or maybe out of Evanston completely.

  2. So Evanston is not the only city that eats its children

    Chicago Tribune story about closing of shop where the Chicago major launched his campaign to reduce regulations.

    "Logan Square Kitchen announces closing, citing burdensome city regulations"


    I won't be surprised if the new Curts Cafe on Central is gone in months—if for no other reason than it trying to employe ex-offenders—maybe the Council will require barwire fencing round it..  The Council is creative in ways to kill business.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *