Efforts to entangle hair salons on Howard Street in special use permit restrictions may die, or be revived, at tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting.

Aldermen will receive a recommendation from the Plan Commission that they not adopt restrictions on the salons pushed by Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward.

The commission voted 5-2 against the new rules, which would require any new hair or nial salon east of Ridge Avenue on Howard to go through the city’s lengthy special use approval process before it could open.

The commission concluded there was no need for different rules for different types of retail service businesses — all of which are now permitted by right in the B3 zoning district.

City staff, at Alderman Rainey’s urging, had argued that the “proliferation” of personal care service businesses on Howard might somehow deter private sector investment in redeveloping the neighborhood.

The aldermen can either accept the Plan Commission recommendation, or reverse it and move to adopt the new restrictions.

Top: The three hair and nail salons in this block of Howard would be among those affected by the proposed zoning overlay district (Google Street View image.)

Related stories

Opinion: Hairbrained schemes (Nov. 19, 2012)

Howard hair salons get reprieve (Nov. 15, 2012)

Alderman targets hair and nail salons on Howard (Nov. 15,2012)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. This has to stop

    Another example of Rainey's attempt to strong arm businesses in her ward. Tyrant, bully, wannabe dictator-what she does to business owners has to stop!!!

    1. Howard Street businesses

      Something like this when the Alderman complained and attempted to stop Store Front Churches. I believe some of the properties the city owns on Howard wore purchased shortly after.

  2. Walking a fine line

    I cannot be the only one who sees these tactics as bordering on descrimination. In a city that prides itself on "diversity" and "inclusion" we have Alderpersons openly targeting minority owned,operated, and frequented businesses.  These thinly veiled plans call for removal of successful businesses only to be replaced with city supported "pet projects ". Enough already! Anyone prepared to stop her?  

    1. Understanding a special use

      This hardly borders on discrimination. The requirement of a special use is often required by certain types of businesses to reduce their cumulative impact on a neighborhood. As a matter of city planning, no retail stretch of businesses should have an abundance of any one type of specialized business. That is all that a special use application does. It places limits on the number of similar establishments in a defined zone. Any new proposed business would be required to meet certain standards as outlined in the zoning ordinance.

      It is a similar process required for restaurants, convenience stores, daycare centers, service stations and many other types of establishments. The salons that exist today will continue to exist and no one has advocated their removal with the adopted plan. They will be grandfathered in and allowed to continue to exist in their present capacity.

    2. Wrong assumptions

      Just because the businesses are located on Howard Street, you assume that they are minority owned, operated and frequented? Not certain how the alderman can be "openly targeting" such businesses with some kind of discriminatory intent when it's not clear that those are the business involved. Should I assume that only white people shop on Central Street? No, because that would be a racist assumption. "Removal of successful businesses"? Where does the story say that current businesses will be removed? The article states that the vote would "require any new would-be salon owner to jump through the city's special use permit hoops before opening." A review of a proposed business location — not removing existing businesses.

      1. This alderperson fought to

        This alderperson fought to block storefront churches on Howard Street.

        Why not make it a special use for this type of business citywide?

      2. Safe assumptions

        Assumptions were made, but not on my part. You have assumed, incorrectly, that I am not a customer, and dear friend of one of the owners. I can factually say, again, that these are minority owned, operated, and largely supported by minority customers.  I will, however, safely assume that you have never set foot in one of these salons. I think it's pretty clear what the overall goal for Howard St. is. Let's not kid ourselves.  

        1. agreed

          Please encourage these business owners to become vocal about this unfair new regulation. 


          Please point out that Central Street also has many hair/nail/massage type places within a 1.5 mile street.  If we are going to regulate hair salons being close to one another, it is only fair that the new law is applied evenly across town or thrown out completely. 










          1. Still wrong assumptions

            I have set foot in one of those salons.  To the best of my knowledge, it is not minority owned and, now that you mention it, I didn't see any minorities in the salon.  So knowing one owner of one business as a dear friend doesn't necessarily describe every personal care salon in the area.  It also doesn't mean that a city ordinance requiring a special use permit for a type of business in a business district is a discriminatory act in violation of the law.

            We are not talking about 1.5 mile stretch of Howard Street.  The proliferation of personal care salons is found in just a few blocks.  As I explained before, you need to hop in the car and drive EAST of Ridge to know the facts.  Focus on the area near the Howard Street el station.  A reminder:  we are not taliking about an area near Target.  That's west. 

            But if anyone wants to argue that there are too many personal care salons in a few blocks of Howard Street and it is damaging the viability of that business district, the City Council should listen to the argument, look at the facts and decide how to proceed.

            Current business owners on Howard Street are not covered by the special use permits that are needed.  Why make this out to be something that it isn't?

          2. Missing my point

            Dear Anonymous1-

             I am aware of the area that you are speaking about and always have been.  I referred to Target as tounge in cheek, as you said that you wanted a shop that catered to the rich and the poor within walking distance to your home.   I was being sarcastic. 

              We will continue to disagree on this issue as I'm against a government using the force of law to prevent legitimately financed businesses from opening with no valid justification except for the complaints of a few neighbors, a belief that the businesses are up to no good, or a belief that the businesses bring down the area.

               There are no facts to support any of the claims that Rainey and you are making, and this is what the city plans to do- Stop legitimate busineses from opening, based on your beliefs and opinions. 

              Not everyone shares your beliefs and opinions.  In a free country, I think that the rule of law should be to protect freedom, not to prevent people from opening legitimate, law abiding businesses based on the opinions of the leaders.



          3. On tap — pole dancing on Central Street?

            Fully clothed pole dancing is a legal business. Let's have true freedom for businesses and encourage a pole dancing establishment on Central Street. 

            Do you have a problem with that?  I cannot imagine why if freedom for business is so important to you. 

            It sounds like a sauce for the goose isn't sauce for the gander position.  For some, they want to protect the quaint character of their neighborhood business district. But tough nuts to those who asks for reasonable zoning for future businesses of the type now saturating the business district and for very limited city economic development assistance. Once again, the attitude is that those who live near Howard Street do not deserve any consideration to improve what could be a thriving business area. After all, it's just those people on the south end of town.

            You advocate telling the current salon operators that the city is trying to close them down. That's not true. So why say it?  

          4. No. I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

            If someone wanted to put their own money into that business, I wouldn't have a problem with a clothed pole dancing place on Central Street. Personally, I think pole dancing is a terrible business idea because people in the Central street vicinity wouldn't go, but if some investor thought it would work- give it a try.  If people wanted to picket out front to deter customers, that would also be their right to do so. 

            Freedom of business is important to me because freedom is freedom.   Successful businesses represent what people want to spend money on.  This is the truest democracy that exists.  If people don't spend money at a business, the business will close.  

            I see the Evanston business environment disintegrating into a land of cronyism, and I don't think this is good for economic development. It's also not good for the pocketbooks of the Evanston taxpayer, as business owners will be weary of investing in a town that runs this way. 

             For example, the city refuses to give a liquor license to Ted Maveriks because they dont' like his image, yet the city is financing bars.  The city denies a change in zoning to McDonalds and to a Felony Franks establishment because they don't like what both represent. However, the city gives money to a Waffle House.   The precedent is quickly becoming that you need to go through city council and suck up, even get funded by them, in order to open.   I find this trend alarming.

            if you don't like the hair salons, don't go.  Picket out in front if you believe that these shops need to close. But don't force your opinion onto other customers.  Don't let government exert force by law and take away the rights of the current customers of these businesses nor the rights of future business owners to open.    

            Clearly, the writing is on the wall for what Ann Rainey envisions for Howard Street, and these hair businesses are not part of that vision.  She wants them gone, and this change in regulation is a first step.

            I hope that the shop owners speak up, as do the customers of these places.

          5. Protectionism

            "Clearly, the writing is on the wall for what Ann Rainey envisions for Howard Street, and these hair businesses are not part of that vision.  She wants them gone, and this change in regulation is a first step.

            I hope that the shop owners speak up, as do the customers of these places."

            Why would a salon owner be opposed to what Ann Rainey is doing?   They are grandfathered in….if I owned a salon, I would welcome an effort to limit competition.

  3. Bars good, barbershops bad?

    Bars are OK, but barber shops and hair salons aren't?

    What happens when Rainey decides too many bars?

    What happens when Chicago says let's open more bars on Howard?

    Telling landloards is not a good precedent to start.

    Will this come to Main, Dempster, Davis, Church and Central?

    Or are those streets OK with the alderpeople? Do they like the owners there?

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