Evanston’s Plan Commission Wednesday rejected a plan to drive hair salons off Howard Street.

City staff, acting at the request of Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, had proposed new zoning rules that would have required the 11 hair salons and other personal care retail service businesses at the east end of Howard to win approval as special uses or go out of business within two years.

“I’m a lefty,” Commissioner Seth Freeman said, “but this is American and there’s such a thing as capitalism, and we should let the market decide what’s a viable business.”

“I’m not saying I disagree with having more diverse types of business, but I don’t think we can legislate against businesses that are already in existance,” Freeman added.

Commission Chair Scott Peters said he’d be willing to consider phasing out the existing businesses over a longer time period — perhaps five or ten years.

“I too am a capitalist, but I think amortization is reasonable. But this two-year period is shocking to the conscience, at least my conscience,” Peters said.

Commissioners also criticized the staff for failing to notify any of the business owners of the proposed zoning change.

The staff sent notices to property owners within the Howard-Ridge tax increment financing district, as required by the zoning code. But since the shopkeepers are tenants in their buildings, they wouldn’t have been notified.

While staff took the time to compile a list of all the nearly 60 businesses on the six-block strip, they didn’t mail or stop by the 11 businesses that would be affected by the zoning change to let them know about it.

Asked if the city had ever before used an amortization period to try to drive a category of existing businesses out of a neighborhood, Dennis Marino, the city’s planning and zoning division manager, said he couldn’t think of any such instances.

Marino argued that the hair-care establishments have a “cumulative negative impact” on the neighborhood — because potential new tenants if they see a collection of existing businesses “that they don’t think are compatible with their enterprise, then sometimes they don’t go to those locations.”

The commissioners asked staff to develop a new plan for the zoning overlay district.

A majority of commissioners appeared to be opposed to any amortization schedule that would force existing businesses to close.

In addition some commissioners had doubts about why hair care businesses and nail salons were being targeted.

“I think there’s serious question about why these particular uses at his location should be singled out for special treatment,” Peters said. “Maybe there’s another way to accomplish the desired objective.”

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 story

Alderman targets hair and nail salons on Howard

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Shouldn’t we be helping small businesses?

    Thank you to the Evanston Plan Commission for dumping Ann Rainey's bizarre anti-hair care crusade. 

    What is the hidden agenda behind Rainey's plan? Why would the City of Evanston target legitimate, local small businesses on Howard Street?  These businesses, often owned by African-Americans,  afford would-be entrepreneurs an opportunity to start their own businesses with relatively little capital. In additon to providing services for locals,  they can foster a sense of community.

    We visited Hairz R Us, a bustling barber shop on the Chicago side of Howard. The owner, Mike Smith, is  a successful small business owner and Evanstonian who has kids at ETHS.  He has been in the business for more than 20 years. The men who work in his shop are also gainfully employed and the place itself is an important community gathering spot.  Exactly what sort of threat does it pose to the community?

    1. Evanston city staff is out of control

      I agree, Ginny.

      But don't just blame Rainey. City Staff made the recommendation that would require these businesses get a special use permit or go out of business in two years.

      City staff didn't even notify these businesses about the proposed change or get their feedback.  This is the same city staff that created a landlord blacklist of false building code violations and passed the list to the media without ever notifying these landlords that they were on this list.

      Don't forget, Commission Chair Scott Peters wanted to give these businesses five years to get a special use permit rather than two. Peters chairs the Plan Commission.

      This is what too much government means.

      This is big news yet with five local news sources in Evanston, only EvanstonNow reports this. Sad.

      1. There are some intelligent City staff members – but

        Al – the intelligent, hard working staff members at the city do exist, but clearly there are some, that are grossly incompetent.

        That keep their jobs severing the Mayor and the council.   Time and time again a council member or the mayor ask for something and staff runs and writes an ordinance.  Its interesting since half the time its so screwed up, its a joke.

        The blame is on the elected Officials, whats interesting look at our elected officials do they ever really worry about how the city operates, they are mostly clueless, The Mayor using the city as her personal charity, not as an operation to benefit the taxpayers.

        Council members continue to help waste funds, look at all the stupid cross walks all over town, one of the Council goals public safety?  How about repairing the street or the 100 old water line, like the one on Central street which broke 11 times!

        The Mayor when she run last time for public office state she would break the water contracts with the suburbs and get us better rates, a lie and Joke. never happened.  Under her leadership the rates have sky rocketed. But at the same time she does not have a clue what is going on at the water department.  or the fact they continue to get no where with their capital replacements. Ofcourse Wally keeps on telling everyone he is going to sell water to other suburbs, but thats now seven years out and will cost us millions in capital.( by the way they were suppose to do a study on this what happen to it screwed up as bad as Robert Crown? or does it tell us something we don't want to heard? so now its forgotten about?)


    2. Again – the Chicago ordinance is WHY that salon is busy

      As I said before, the point of the ordinance is to limit the number of salons, not eliminate salons entirely. This ensures that existing, viable salons are successful and supported by both the business community and by customers.

      Chicago currently has an ordinance that limits the number of salons on their side of Howard, and it's important to note that the very one you hold up as an example is on the Chicago side of the street. There's a connection between the zoning limits and the success of this business, and it would help everyone in the neighborhood if we had equity in ordinances on both sides of Howard.

      1. Not the role of government.

        Michele, it is not the role of government to "ensure that existing, viable salons are successful" by limiting competition.  Limiting competition is bad for consumers — it increases prices and decreases services.  It is disheartening and baffling that some think it is appropriate for government to swoop in and attempt to kick-out businesses and prevent new businesses in the name of ensuring viability of existing businesses.    

  2. How to destroy small businesses

    Wow, Evanston, you sure know how to destroy small businesses. Someday there will be no one left to chase out.

    What the heck is wrong with this town?

  3. A return to common sense?

    I have to say, I am glad to hear that some kind of reprieve has been worked out from all this nonsense…

    For goodness sakes, these businesses started up by their own bootstraps… offer the public services and people real jobs. Not some 6-six-figute "loan" from the City for a wine bar and place to live upstairs to boot…

    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

  4. Hair Salon Ordinance is not over yet!

    I suspect this is not over yet, so what the Commission said No, didn't the Presevation Commission say no to NU vistor center and the city council said yes?   Anyone who thinks when our so called elected officials want something they will find a way to bend the rules.  

    The Mayor and staff stealing our money for the clinic? That is the usually $1 rent deal, that we taxpayers pay to allow them to use space in the civic center. What did Skokie pay for this since its resident will use it, we just paid them for a fire training tower?

    Rainey has wasted well over 1 million dollars on Howard Street, for the Wine and Cheese Bar which will go out of business in a year or two, and the LIt Theater project which can not possible generate the cash flow to pay us back.  I suspect Rainey will make sure more money is wasted on this by letting these groups get of out of even their minimum repayments once they can not generate the revenue to keep up with payments.It will all be done quietly out of our view. When I asked at Economic Development for giving us taxpayers an  up date on all Projects, that is the funding, expense and revenue, Ann was quick to say every thing is fine and there is no need for this, we had never had a project fail. ( if you believe that I have a bridge at Isabella I can sell you, along with Lake Front Park land )

    So Rainey shuts down the Hair Salons what replaces them??? Using TIF funds for more of her give aways to private groups?  Ann is justifying the use of TIF funds by claiming they are not really tax dollars the city can use.  She forgets to tell everyone, they are tax dollars the school districts are not getting because her and her other council member friends are using them of their patronage programs.

    Its an election year more lies, right after the election Wallys going to raise the water rates again, not the taxes, by the way an audit of the water department might be a good idea, given many rate payers may not be paying.

  5. Free Market v. NIMBY

    It really is amazing to me that so many people are pro-business in Evanston — when it's not in their backyard.

    Where are these posts when business is trying to come into town? It is beyond hypocritial to support businesses under the mantra of "capitalism" and "free market", but then turn to protection of "property values" when business wants to build in one's backyard.

    • McDonald's wanted to build in north Evanston. This would have driven out existing business but replaced it with another viable business. (McDonald's does multiple evaluations on the market before they build a restaurant.) The neighborhood was very upset about the effect on their property values and the traffic that would be added due to a drive thru. If Evanston truly is friendly to small business (and by the way, most McDonald's are small businesses owned by franchised operators), then why the outcry over the proposal.
    • Bed and breakfast operations have been addressed recently. Again, using the logic of the free market, Evanston should allow these to opened in any neighborhood. After all, if people can use a large historic home to raise income and operate as a small business, then they should have that right. But people showed up to complain about their property values as opposed to supporting small business.
    • Aren't property values really about the free market anyway?

    As someone who lives near Howard Street, I could care less about what businesses are there, as long as they are operating within the confines of the law and not creating excessive problems for the neighborhood. Every business will bring with it some inconveniences, but that is how the system works. If a business goes in that I don't like or doesn't offer what I need, then I don't go there.

    1. NIMBY and capitalism


      As someone who lives in North Evanston, I can tell you that not everyone was against McDonald's.   I agree 100% with your sentiment though.

      It is hard not to be discouraged seeing how many businesses that Evanston has turned away in recent years.  A few notable ones come to mind:

      1. Tilted Kilt- sexist and doesn't represent our "values"

      2. Felony Franks- might glamorize crime

      3. McDonald's- would make us seem so "Schaumburg"

      4. Bed and Breakfasts- imagine all that traffic!

      5.  and now threatening hair salons?- Perms=crime… didn't you know?!

      And on the flipside, how much $$ is given away, or given out in form of low interest "loans" to businesses that  our government officials like

      Wine bars, Trader Joe's, pancake houses, $$ for marketing materials for complex on Main/Chicago(never built, $ gone), $ for marketing materials for favored business districts, facade improvement.. etc. etc. etc. 

      In my opinion, I would not call Evanston pro-business.  Quite the opposite.  It is a pro-government community that believes that elected officials know best what is good for all of us.   DO you think they do?

      1. Businesses that our government officials like

        "And on the flipside, how much $$ is given away, or given out in form of low interest "loans" to businesses that  our government officials like

        Wine bars, Trader Joe's, pancake houses, $$ for marketing materials for complex on Main/Chicago(never built, $ gone), $ for marketing materials for favored business districts, facade improvement.. etc. etc. etc."

        Jen, what's this accusation about "pancake houses" getting money or 'loans' from the government?

        When has IHOP – or Le Peep, or Clarke's or the new JT's on Orrington  – or any other pancake establishment EVER received any funding from the city government?  Enquiring minds want to know.

        It is true that a restaurant called  " Home of Chicken and Waffles" did receive some help to open on the west side.  But look at their menu….waffles, but no pancakes!

    2. McDonalds didn’t want to conform with the zoning

      There was nothing wrong with McDonalds coming into North Evanston and they could have done so at that location.

      The problem was that McDonalds wanted the city to waive the pre-existing zoning designation.

      Nothing was precluding them from using/renovating the existing building in a manner consistent with the zoning code.

      They chose not to, so there is no NIMBY there at all.

      No property owner is entitled automatically to zoning variances.

      If that were the case we might as well not have zoning and have a development free for all.

      1. Waiving zoning was never the request

        McDonald's never requested a waiver of zoning. No business or individual can do that. They were requesting a special use designation (which is required of all restaurants in Evanston) and the addition of a drive thru. They were precluded from establishing their business by the zoning ordinance although the ordinance does permit them to obtain a special use from the city. As a restaurant, they could not move into that location without first a recommendation from the zoning board and then approval from council. 

        It was never proposed that the city eliminate all zoning. And no one, least of all me, suggested that every property owner is entitled to automatic zoning variances. But every property owner should be able to make the case for their requested variance if they follow the procedure outlined in the zoning ordinance.

        1. They are nimbys

          You are correct, Take a simple coffee cafe, even if they wished to open right in the middle of downtown Evanston, two doors down from the exact same use, they would need to get a special permit from the city first.  The Mcdonalds location is zoned for a commercial use and a drive thru is a permitted request within that zoning area. 

          This special use permit is what the NIMBYS, and they are NIMBYS, always use to attack and harass a business from opening in their neighborhoods.  For this location the only consideration should be whether the request impacts the traffic safety of that corner, not whether the neighbors like the Mcdonalds use or not.  In this case it's pretty obvious that the neighbors don't like Mcdonalds and are using the drive thru permit to fight it.  Remember the starbucks at crawford and central, neighbors again complained about the loss of property values, safety, children, mom and apple pie.    

          It's amazing when people buy a home that sits right next to a commercial business zone and then complain when there is the inevitable proposed change in business use.  It's like the people who buy next to the football stadium and then complain about the normal activites that occur within and around a football stadium.  Duh    

  6. I’d like some whine with that cheese

    A million clams on wine and cheese? On Howard? I have to imagine that's a business plan full of holes. I'd rather see a string of hair salons. Why not divvy that up into a hundred small business grants/loans? 

  7. amortization period for moving businesses

    In the 1970s, the City of Evanston had a major overhaul of its zoning code.  One of the provisions was to permit rooming houses only in U-districts, that is, close to NU.  They realized the hardship to the owners of rooming houses in other areas, so gave them a ten-year amortization period.  It seemed to work quite well.  The zoning changes proposed by Ald. Rainey are a hair salon of a different color (sorry).  The only thing that will bring different businesses to Howard Street is a different group of residents/customers. The ones now operating have neighborhood people as their customers.  If no one patronized them, they would be out of business.

    Years ago, the apartment buildings in Ald. Rainey's ward, and the Juneway Terrace neighborhood nearby were known for their cheap rents.  Many grad students/young faculty lived there, and there were several very successful pizza and chinese restaurants, plus the Howard Theater along both sides of Howard.  Think of the neighborhoods in Chicago that were very much down on their luck in the 1960s:  Old Town, Lincoln Park, Pilsen, Uptown.  A combination of urban pioneers and artists searching for, again, cheap rents, gradually changed neighborhoods.  That kind of thing needs to happen on Howard.

    Mary Brugliera

    1. Howard street re-gentrification

      Mary- I agree with you that Howard street will change if the residents change- but doesn't Evanston pride itself on it's diversity?

      We can't have it both ways.  We either embrace socioeconomic diversity or we don't.   New residents to Howard street means re-gentrification.  Is this really what Evanston wants?

      If so, why do we bother spending so much money to help low income people here?



      1. The re-gentrification of Howard Street

        Gentrification is a very good thing.  It increases property values and enhances the livability of the neighborhood.

        Who wouldn't be for that?  As a property owner nearby, I would LOVE to increase the value of my investment.

        I would also love to get rid of dumpy businesses and areas where criminals congregate.  If that brings in people who want to stabilize the neighborhood, all the better.

        Go to any neighborhood that has been "gentrified" in Chicago (Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village)  and you will see a much better quality of life than when the areas were slums.

        That said, I don't think Rainey has a clue as to how to improve  the neighborhood. But having a variety of businesses and creating a safe street are laudable goals.

        1. Good for yuppies and hipsters but not good for all

          Yes- I worked in Cabrini Green with children living in the housing projects for 5 years while the CHA houses were being torn down and the neighborhood was being re-populated with Starbucks latte drinking yupsters.

          As property values rose, low income hard working folks were forced to move too as they couldn't afford the new rent.  The re-gentrification definitely increased the livability of the area for the North Face wearing hipsters, but it also ended the life there for many low income families as they were forced to re-locate further South and west of the city. 

          All I'm saying is Evanston can't have it both ways.   We can't claim to care about low income people and use tax money for things like  affordable housing projects and free health clinics while simultaenously trying to re-gentrify low income people out of our neighborhoods.

          Personally, I respect the work of any business owner, and find it insulting that our aldermen think they have the right to decide which ones are too dumpy to stay in business.  

          SO which is it Evanston?   Are we going to practice what we preach or are we going to push out small businesses, increase taxes, and re-gentrify into an urban hipster paradise that throws an occasional tax dollar at a low income person so we can feel good that we're not like those people in WInnetka?




          1. I would throw my lot in with the hipsters

            Jen, are you really asking us to choose between  a slum or a hipster neigbhorhood?

            The hipsters want good coffee, performing arts spaces, good clean public spaces, to be able to ride their bikes everywhere, have a few nice restaurants.

            The slum that is Howard now has a preponderance of crummy nail salons, litter strewn everywhere, fast food restaurants whose kitchens are behind bulletproof glass, and gang fights.  That is literally all the neighborhod has to offer.

            I'll go with the hipsters every time if that is the choice.

          2. then keep it real

            Of course, I'd rather be rich than poor too.  If you are rich, you don't need to steal or sell drugs, thus eliminating the need for bulletproof glass and gangs You can go to fancy nail salons, drink expensive coffee, and attend performing arts shows.  Who would't want this?  

            THe problems of low income life will not be solved by putting fancy stores in poor neighborhoods, but rather by bringing good jobs to poor people.  IF you only close existing shops and bring expesnive stores but not new jobs, you are effectively pushing lower income people out of our community.   

            Evanston claims to be all about helping low income people.  If we're really just about making it a better place for people who can afford to go to wine bars, then let's just keep it real.






          3. Keeping it real doesn’t mean that Howard needs to be a real slum

            Why must it be either-or?  Why must we choose between a slum and an upscale yuppie hangout?

            How about a commercial area on Howard Street that isn't known for its crime, litter and junky low-end fast food?  A commercial area that has businesses for the neighborhood that includes middle income and some high income residents, too. 

            I live walking distance to Howard Street in one of the most diverse (by income and race) in Evanston.  Sadly, Howard Street from about two blocks east of Ridge to Chicago Avenue has few, if any, businesses of interest to my family.  There has been a murder in that area and shootings, too.  Neighbors went to a City of Chicago hearing to work with a convenience store on the Chicago side of Howard to get it to follow city ordinances and stop contributing to crime in the area, including selling products related to illegal drugs.

            How about a Lands End outlet?  A nice (but heaven forfend, not upscale!) sit down restaurant (think:  Pine Yard, Panino's, Hecky's with seating), an arts and crafts store (think: Tom Thumb).

            We will welcome the wine bar and the theater if it comes.  Why can't Howard Street be more than it is?  Is it too much for all of us who live close enough to Howard to walk or make a short drive there?

            Here are a few things lost in the news article, the editorial and the many postings:

            1.  The alderman for the area did NOT propose to close all of the hair care salons on Howard Street.  That was added by city staff without her input.  That does not need to happen.

            2.  The City of Chicago zoning makes hair care salons a special use.  That's why hair care salons wind up on the north side of Howard — in Evanston. 

            3.  Hair care salons in are in the service business.  They sell few, if any, products so they collect very little in sales taxes.  Perhaps that is why Chicago makes them a special use?

            Here's what needs to happen:  allow the existing hair care salons to stay but make future hair care salons a special use.  There doesn't need to be all of this drama to help improve the business climate (and collect some additional sales tax revenue) on Howard Street.

          4. No one wants a slum but efforts misguided

             There is a store that is visited by low, middle and high income people. It's called Target, and it is already on Howard street.   

               If you don't like that you can't live closer to middle and upper class visited sit-down restaurants and craft shops, why not move?   Why is it the responsibilty of the rest of Evanston citizens to pay to bring these things closer to you?   I would prefer living in a house within walking distance to the lake.  How would you feel paying taxes to make that happen for me?   If you don't see how these things are the same, explain to me why.

            I would be 100% behind use of my tax money to increase police support in the Howard street area, to employ people to pick up the litter, to increase the lighting of public spaces in hope that increased visibility will reduce crime at night.  I'd also support my taxes being used to improve the streets there, improve public parks, and bring more public services there such as city financed job training, after school activities, a library with access to internet/online job application help- things that can help our Evanston residents to improve their quality of life through their own efforts.

              I would  support paying taxes to improve access to public transit, including buses, trains, and infrastructure of the Howard El stop, to improve mobility for residents there.    I would support the city teaming up with religious organizations in the Howard Street area, who could help work with families to give kids hope that better things exist outside of selling drugs as a way out of poverty.

            I will never support city sponsored re-gentrification efforts through closing of locally owned businesses by denying zoning permits to current or future stores and using tax dollars through loans or grants to build out wine bars and theaters.    


          5. Truly misguided

            Oh Jen, time to get to know the City that you live in.

            The east end of Howard Street is a slum.  That's the area that is being discussed.

            You are talking about the area of Howard Street around Target.  That's the far west end of Howard.  It is truly misguided to comment on a blighted area when you don't even know where it is.  May I guess that you've never been anywhere on Howard Street other than Target, right?

            I don't want your tax money to build a decent commercial area near my home.  I want reasonable zoning restrictions — the same restriction that the City of Chicago already has.

            And I don't want to move because I actually live the diversity that so many in Evanston drive by.  I like my house and my neighbors.  As long as you have suggestions for me to uproot my family because I think that reasonable zoning restrictions could help the slum on Howard Street, may I suggest that you take a drive down the east end of Howard Street to get to know what it really looks like before you post again?

          6. Howard
            So basically, you love the diversity, but want the government to eliminate businesses that you don’t like?

          7. No, that’s not it

            I want government to fulfill its rightful role of intelligent zoning. 

            But I will ask that the next 10 hair car salons and nail salons all locate on Central Street or Davis Street.  I hope that you don't mind that the City of Chicago pushes them to us in Evanston then.


          8. Diversity?


            If "diversity" includes crime and low-lifes, you can have it all.  No need to share.

            BTW in what ward do you live?

          9. Shutting legit businesses and crime
            I agree with you that the Howard crime is unacceptable.

            However, I have yet to hear any argument for why closing small businesses will improve this? What evidence does anyone have that correlates the number of hair and nail salons to crime?

            Central street has approximately 6 nail and hair places within a one mile stretch. Will we be eliminating these next? If no, what is the justification why they can be so dense in one part of town but not in another?
            Furthermore, if we allow government bureaucrats to re-zone out any business they deem dumpy without even discussing it with current owners, what message does this send to potentially new investors?

            I’m against government giving out loans/grants to private business in the name of economic development, regardless of location. We taxpayers subsidize the risk, while privatizing the gains. Hypothetically, what if the wine bar and lit theater fail to make a profit and cant pay back rhe city? How much $$ will the city spend to keep them open- at the expense of what other funds or raising taxes by how much more?

            All of us in Evanston, living in every ward, want to have a safe and prosperous town. But Is this path the right one?

          10. Legitimate business


            You did not respond to which ward you live in.

            I agree that the city should not fund businesses. Especially with their past record. Our taxes are high enough given the poor record they have made. Dempster/Dodge anyone?

            As for Ann Rainey, I think she works very hard for her ward and is trying to improve it by reducing the impact of businesses that cater to crime and negative behavior. I wish other members of the Council were as wise and hardworking.

          11. Perms and guns

            and you have not answered how hair salons and nail shops cater to crime and negative behavior.  So I believe we're at an impasse.




          12. Perms and guns

            Ask the residents of the 8th ward how "busy" these entities are during the day. Late at night some of these places are very crowded and loud, spilling into their backyards.

            Are they doing more than just being salons?

            Chicago's zoning codes are such that many of them establish on the Evanston side of Howard.

          13. send in the police


            If it is illegal to have a party in a hair salon, the police can shut down the party  . It is not illegal to have a mostly empty business during the day, and just because a business is empty does not mean it is money laundering.

            If crime is the issue, why not use city money to hire another police officer instead?




          14. No answer is good enough for you to warrant reasonable zoning

            So I will stop trying to convince you.  But we will proceed with encouraging the city to make a reasonable change in the zoning regulations to make nail and hair salons a special use.

          15. rationale not fully thought through

            I'm not sure why you continue to personally insult my knowledge of Evanston geography, or conclude that I am not open to a rationale explanation.   I have no personal attachment to these businesses, nor do I have a vendetta to keep HOward street a run down area.    We do live in the same town, and my goals are the same as yours- To make Evanston a more livable and prosperous community for all residents.   

            However, I feel that if our governmnent is going to create legislation to ban small businesses through re-zoning, there should be a clear and rationale answer as to why they are doing it as this is a big grab of power. It also sets a precedent that we will allow government to re-zone if residents complain enough.   Furthermore, this rationale should be explained to all business owners prior to re-zoning, so that the businesses have opportunity to ammend their ways. 

            These are the rationale that have been presented so far of why we should change the zoning.

            1. There are parties thrown at these hair salons after hours that may bother some residents

            2. The businesses are empty.

            3. There is possible money laundering that takes place.

            These are my thoughts on these three rationale.  Please add more rationale if you have them.

              1.  Maybe theses places do throw after hours parties.  What laws are these shops breaking by doing so?  If they are breaking noise ordinances, why can we not deal with this problem through this route?    Many north end nail salons also have after hours parties where they serve alcohol (wine parties are very common), perhaps with different clientele.   If we outlaw parties after hours, it would seem fair to make this an across our town restriction.  Otherwise, it appears to have racist motives.  I would prefer allowing shops to use their space as they choose, as long as they do not break any laws in doing so, but if others would rather have government dictate use after hours, then at least make it equitable.

               2.  Why is it a problem that the shops are empty?   As long as the shops pay rent, why does it matter how many customers are there?  

            3.  Perhaps there is money laundering in some of these shops.  Is the best solution to shut down all hair and nail shops, regardless of their involvment with any criminal activity?  Or, should the police look into stopping the crime?     

            We can all agree, I think, that we want less crime on Howard street.  If we shut down businesses because there is illegal activity taking place, do you believe this will attract new businesses if we have not dealt with the actual criminals?  

            Theoreticaly, if we do make hair and nail salons special use, what criteria will be used to decide who gets a permit?   Should we not decide these criteria up front and present them to the shop owners before trying to secretly shut them out as Ann Rainey tried to do?




          16. Keep missing the point so let it go

            I am not proposing that businesses be closed no matter how many times you write it. 

            But five or more nail and hair care salons in the same block with little or no discernible business (other than late night loud activity) is not positive for the business climate of the east end of Howard Street.  If the "business" can still pay the rent despite having little or no nail or hair business, it strongly suggests that money is coming in through activities that are not legal (money laundering and drug fronts, to name a couple). 

            You thought that we were talking about the area around Target (about 1.5 miles away).  That indicates a crucial lack of knowledge of the problem.

            Please accept that making these salons a special use will give the City of Evanston the ability to consider whether the business climate of east Howard Street is enhanced by nail and hair salon number 8 and 9 and 10 and 11 in the same two-block area.  That's all.

            I will strongly support the next McDonald's or fast food outlet with a drive through that wants to locate anywhere in Evanston.  Hope you understand that many of us on the south end of Evanston are persuaded by your viewpoint that we must encourage all businesses to locate anywhere they wish, no matter what already exists in the neighborhood or whether the neighbors have serious and legitimate concerns about the business' operations. 

            That's the "pro business" dogma what you keep preaching so it's only fair to have it  applied where you live, wherever that may be.  Let's all live by the same rules, right?


          17. absolutely agree

            Yes, we should all live under the same rules. I also supported McDonald's, Tilted Kilt, and Felony Franks.  I believe that people should be allowed to vote with their money what businesses are worthy.  

            What point am I missing? If  the government re-zones, according to Bill's article here,  nail/hair shops will not be allowed without special use permits. I assume that Ann Rainey will make it difficult for new nail/hair shops to attain these permits, as she, like you, feel that there are too many of these shops right now. This will lead shops to close or never open.  Am I wrong here?

            There is a high end clothing shop on Prairie Street called Chalk.   I have NEVER seen anyone in it, yet the shop pays rent.  There are occassional parties with women drinking champagne.   By your logic, should we change zoning on them down too?  There is drinking.  There are no customers.   Are they money laundering?

            Downtown Evanston, we have about 40 restaurants within a mile distance.   Should we ban these too because too many shops of the same kind are bad?

            Yes,  these businesses are not identical to the ones on Howard and they serve different clientele, but do you see my point here?  Does it not seem racist that the Ann Rainey proposes re-zoning a group of mostly minority owned businesses that do the same things as businesses that serve the rich?

            I am concerned about setting a precedent for city government re-zoning business districts just because neighbors feel that there is something wrong is happening inside. This has not happened before in our city, and I believe it's a misuse of power.   

            There may indeed be something wrong with these businesses, but why not shut them down using the police to stop illegal activity instead?    Unless you stop the crime, why do you believe new businesses would even want to come to Howard?

            And I mentioned Target because you said you wanted a sit down restaurant and craft shops within walking distance to your house where low, middle, and upper class people will all go-  My point was that you already have a shop like this within walking distance, as I consider 1.5 miles close.  

            I feel very strongly about this issue, because we're setting a precedent for government to stop business.  This town is basically bankrupt. We spend over 1 milion dollars to pay for economic development. If we're going to block any businesses,  we had better know exactly why we are doing it and if it's the only way.

            I am also concerned by giving a few government officials so much power.  Perhaps, we have all great politicians in local office, who are thinking only of the general good.  However, one only has to look at our history with Illinois politicians to see that the government is not always thinking of the public good first.

            Perhaps I am naive to believe that the Evanston police can stop the crime happening on Howard in a more direct way. WHat can I say- I still trust police men more than politicians when it comes to doing what's right for the common good.











          18. Playing the race card — the standard in Evanston

            I didn't mention the race or income of anyone using the nail and hair salons.  I can't say that I know the race or income of those few who may frequent these shops.  As detailed before, these businesses, like the low-end quickie cell phone shops, are not contributing to the business environment on Howard Street.  Adding more of them WITHOUT oversight will not contribute to a strong business environment on Howard Street.  

            No, Ann Rainey is not racist and neither am I.  Typical Evanston.  If you advocate changing anything that may improve Howard Street, you are labeled as a racist.  How sad that it always comes to that. 

            Isn't it racist to assume that all of those who contribute to the crime and litter and junky businesses on Howard are minorities?  I am not the one who made that assumption.  I just don't like the crime or litter or junky low-end businesses.  My plea is that Howard Street does not need to be like that.  Everyone on the south side of town deserves better.  And that's everyone.


          19. Yet to meet any racists in this town

            When I drive down Howard street, it appears to me that these businesses are frequented by mostly minorities, just as it appears to me that mostly white women frequent the  Chalk retail shop I referred to earlier. Of course, there may be exceptions to what meets the eye.  My point is that any rationale behind zoning changes on Howard street should be equally used when zoning elsehwere in the city.   Using your previous rationale for why you want to re-zone out the shops (never busy, parties at night), it seems quite unfair  that shops visited by mainly rich white folks can do these things, but shops visited by mainly minorities are called out as being criminals for doing the SAME THINGS. 

            Just because a business is junky in the eyes of some neighbors does not give the government the right to shut it down.    Not everyone can afford to visit middle class shops, and I don't think it's in the best interest of EVERYONE in Evanston to shut down businesses just because a vocal minority thinks they are junky.

            To be fair, I also hollered when the vocal minority blocked Tilted Kilt, using the same rationale that you are giving- It doesn't meet "our standards."  I disagreed when people blocked McDonalds saying it was going to turn Evanston into some sort of "Schaumburg."   What right does the vocal minority have to impose their viewpoint on the rest of us,and block the majority from voting with their money?  

            I agree with you that no one wants crime or litter on Howard.  So let's use tax payer money to clean that up instead!  Besides, it seems to me like fighting the crime and litter problems should be a first step to attract any new non-taxpayer backed businesses. Re-zone out existing businesses, and all you are left with is empty store fronts, litter and crime.. and of course a wine bar and theater paid for by the rest of Evanston.

            Best of luck to you.








          20. I just want to see

            how narrow the column containing my reply can become.  Not sure if it is happening in your browser, but in mine, this conversation has become very narrow.  

          21. Because you asked

            By one resident's report, there are at least five hair and nail salons in just one block on the Evanston side at the east end of Howard Street.  So we are not talking about five or six salons in a half-mile or mile-long stretch.  Again, please take a drive on the east end of Howard Street so that you can see what is being discussed.

            Residents living near the concentration of hair and nail salons on the east end of Howard report seeing little or no activity in some salons during the day well and as they remain open well into the night.  There have been many police calls to a particular block in that stretch.  As one example, police were called at 10 p.m. on a recent weeknight for a loud party right behind the well-lit salon.  The revelry appeared to be alcohol related.

            As one resident has commented, there is definitely a need for personal care services and there are plenty of legitimate businesses in that field.  But it is worth noting that according to a noted legal source, beauty salons are a type of business "commonly" selected for money laundering.  Please refer to

            These are some of the reasons that many residents near Howard Street support a reasonable zoning ordinance change so that, like the City of Chicago, future nail and hair care salons in Evanston are a special use.

          22. Good job?

            What is a good job?

            What do you need to have a good job?

            Manufacturing jobs were once good jobs, especially if all you had was a high school degree.  Manufacturing is gone. You buy a machine rather than employ a person. High tax Evanston definitely does not have a manufacturing future. What you have now are either jobs that require a college degree, some kind of professional training, or a low paying service job which often needs a high school degree. For high school drop outs, the future is not bright. — there are no "good" jobs.

            The only good jobs left for people without professional degrees are public employee jobs with generous benefits, which unfortunately are terribly underfunded.

            Any ideas except redistriubution? That works until you run out of other peoples money…


          23. Evanston already out of money

            Agreed on your thoughts Vito.

            I think it was you that corrected me about Evanston's current debt per person, saying that it was much higher than  my conservative $70,000 per resident because the future rate of return assumptions reported by the city might be misguided.  In my mind, Evanston has already run out of other people's money, as no one I know- not even the "rich" people, will be able to afford paying off that debt.    

            What to do about this?  I really don't see any positive way out.    But spending yet more money to build wine bars doesn't seem like a good idea.  Then again, perhaps we'll all need a drink when the city goes bankrupt.

            Viva the people's republic!




          24. Gentrificatiom

            I grew up just North of Cabrini Green and finally left/escaped in the late 40's to Lincoln Square area. The Near North version of "diversity" was a farce.

            I prefer gentrification.

        2. Unintended consequences

          === Who wouldn't be for that? ===

          Well, many of the people that currently live there that cannot afford highter rents or property taxes in neighborhoods that gentrify.  

          === Go to any neighborhood that has been "gentrified" in Chicago (Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village)  and you will see a much better quality of life than when the areas were slums. ====

          Well, a better quality of life for new residents (i.e. generally white yuppies).  Those displaced still live in a similar (or worse) neighborhood, just somewhere else.

          I'm not arguing the merits of "gentrification" — neighborhood revitiliaztion can be good.  I'm just being real, when acknowledging that some people can be adversely impacted.

  8. This news about Howard St.

    Can someone tell me EXACTLY who is to benefit from this proposal? Is there a backdoor benefactor making promises? Sounds like Mr. Potter from "Its a Wonderful Life" is at work again.

  9. Howard st and the city of Evanston economic development

    I am not against the City doing improvements to the sidewalks and public areas on Howard, I against, the city wasting money on Wine and Cheese Bars and the Lit Theater.  The public sidewalks on Howard  east of Ridge are actually in better shape than side walks on Central Street by the North Branch library, most likely due to Ann Rainey.

    The Wine and Cheese Bar  appears already in trouble, it was suppose to open the end of summer, then it was stated by the Alderperson before Thanksgiving, it has not openned. Whats interesting is what role is the City playing in this mess?   Who actually is running the project, buying the bar fixtures with our tax dollars and renovating the building?  The entire mess is almost using completely all our tax dollars ( TIF) which is not a role for a city governement which does not have any money, to run many basic services in this town.

    Many on here think, some how these businesses are going to magically appear on Howard, with or without city money, any major business, clearly does a careful analysis of the area and the population and its ability to suppport the business, not the city of Evanston economic develpment  staff's give aways with our tax dollars, since this is a private parties money, Howard street is NOT a place were these business want to be regardless of Ann's using OUR tax dollars. 

    Both the Lit Theater and Wine and Cheese Bars are using our money hardly any of their own funds,therefore they are happy to move to Howard Street.

    The Hair businesses and store front Churches are on Howard since this is what the neighborhood supports, it will not support Ann's vision of upscale Arts and Wine and Cheese Bars regardless of what the neighbors on the 8th ward quick topic believe.


    1. Skin in the game

      Perhaps if the Mayor and Council members were required to have some PERSONAL 'skin in the game' they would have a much better understanding of the businesses they want to commit taxpayer dollars to.

      E.g. they have to each invest X% the cost  of the business of each of their OWN Personal money in the Wine Bar, Lit Theater.  As it is they can just spend taxpayers $ and just say [if that] "Sorry" if it does not work out.

      Make them stockholders.

      1. skin in the game? dumb idea

        You want to let  ( require!)  the Mayor and Council to have a piece of the action whenever the City is involved in a business deal?  Are you serious?  Do we want aldermen and mayors to have financial conflicts of interest?  Do we want public servants to be profiting from City business?

        This is a really silly idea…and demonstrates, once again, the foolishness of the right-wing cult of privatization, and the elevation of 'investors' and 'job creators' over public service.

        1. Skin in the game and how public officials are skinning us!

          In a perfect world the council and Mayor would have skin in the game, that is voters would know all the screw ups they keep on making and kick them out of office, does not happen.  All you have to do is  look at this state, Blago, and numerous others went with him, most recently Jessie JR.  Voters are not making any where near intelligent votes, JR is the most recent example.

          Are council members giving their friends $40,000 watches? It appears to me they are rewarding their friends with more, ofcourse its all legal? Or that is at least what the voters think.

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 *