City staff will ask Evanston aldermen Monday whether they want to pursue imposing impact fees on new development.

The staff report comes in response to a suggestion made last fall by Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, that the city consider imposing such fees.

Rainey argued that the fees would be a way to spread the benefit of new development projects throughout the city.

Currently the public benefits the city demands from firms proposing planned developments in Evanston tend to be targeted to the neighborhood immediately around the development site.

A decade ago reports the city commissioned from the consulting firm TischlerBise suggested the city could impose impact fees for such things as water service, libraries and parks.

The consultants said the fees could add up to $5,695 to the cost of building a new single-family home in town. Per-unit fees for multi-unit buildings would be somewhat lower.

And they said the city could impose an excise tax for streets of $2.65 per square foot of new construction. That would add $5,300 to the cost of a 2,000 square foot home.

The consultants indicated that unlike public benefits, which the city only extracts from large, planned-development projects, under state law impact fees would have to be applied to all types of residential development in town — including single family homes.

No action was taken on the impact fee idea a decade ago, and since then the city has increased its public benefit requirement that developers subsidize affordable housing from a rate of $4,000 per unit to $10,000 per unit and expanded its inclusionary housing ordinance to apply to rental as well as condominium developments.

When Rainey called for the fresh look at impact fees last November, Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she opposed the idea, arguing that public benefits from new developments should be targeted to the area immediately around the project.

Impact fees have come under fire from pro-development groups, including the Illinois Associaton of Realtors.

The staff report notes that impact fees are more common in communities where there is considerable open land that requires new infrastructure to be developed. Fully-built-out communities, like Evanston, are less likely to have the fees.

The staff report makes no recommendation about whether Evanston should impose impact fees, simply asking for direction from aldermen about whether they want to refer the idea to the Plan Commission or drop it from further consideration.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Will they never run out of ways to run resident & business out
    For years when people at work [in the Loop] asked about moving to Evanston, I told them about the various parts of Evanston.
    I also mentioned how similar Skokie properties were cheaper and if they could afford it Wilmette avoided many of the problems of Evanston.
    A number did move to Wilmette. For some reason they did not like the idea of Skokie [I wondered if then limited ‘Yellow’ line hours and the train going so close to the filtration plant was the problem [the latter was not].
    Now I hear more are seriously looking to Skokie when they move.
    Evanston keeps screaming [the Council has not recognized it] “we will keep putting road blocks and distinctiveness to living in Evanston.”
    Evanston having NU had been big plus—now people realize they can travel to NU and avoid the downside of the rest of Evanston’s problems—here an effective “we don’t want homeowners [esp. apartment/condo] and will make opening a business a nightmare.”.

    1. Our leaders are short-sighted
      Millions spent on the Fountain Square project. Millions spent on a fundraiser for Robert Crown Center. And tens of millions more then first reported to be spent on the RCC. Great job! No wonder they are trying to tax us into oblivion.

  2. Impact Fees

    We’ve been talking about affordable housing in Evanston for decades now.  It seems to me that we still have to define what “affordable housing” means.  On one hand, we discuss the need to keep Evanston affordable for the people who live here, and, to expand housing opportunities for all who want to relocate here.  Then, out of the blue comes a proposal to impose a development fee on new housing.  That is not only contradictory, it just simply doesn’t make sense.

    Like many long time Evanston residents, my wife and I now find ourselves empty nesters.  We have no desire to leave our community.  We love the city and we love our neighborhood.  So much so, that we would like to downsize and remain in our neighborhood.  Sometime within the next couple of years we might consider building a smaller home for ourselves.  But, if we have to pay a premium of $5,300 or more to stay in our town, we will think twice.  The cost of living here at any income level has to be weighed with the benefits that come with living here and for us, this also means our retirement future.  How many other households will make similar decisions?  Is this what making Evanston affordable means?

    1. Enough affordable housing in Evanston
      Evanston already has enough affordable housing.

      A recent study showed that Evanston proportionately already has more affordable housing relative to
      its benchmark and relative to neighboring communities.

      Both District 65 and District 202 classify about 45-50% of their students who are eligible for free or subsidized lunches.

      “Affordable Housing” is a relative term.

      I’d like to live in a house close to or on the lake but i can’t afford it. Is that a problem that the City of Evanston should address?

      I agree that affordable housing is an important issue for Evanston, but the facts seem to support that affordable housing exists in Evanston.

      I guess the question becomes, “How many units of affordable housing are appropriate?” And how do we keep Evanston “affordable” for current residents?


      1. Rich or Poor—Evanston government can’t decide
        You said “Both District 65 and District 202 classify about 45-50% of their students who are eligible for free or subsidized lunches.”
        I hear figures like this in the press.
        Given the Evanston population, per cent of families in population and about 2.5 children per household, this means 3800 or 4800 children get free or subsidized lunches. Given that families will generally provide food for their children and cut back for themselves, this would mean Evanston is not really an upper, even upper middle but lower middle—or below—class suburb.
        Yet city officials want it both ways—praise for how well Evanston residents are doing [at least middle Middle class] but also a city of significant poverty. The ‘good’ when they want new arts project or votes, the ‘bad’ when they say we need more affordable housing, school referendum or higher taxes to pay for programs.

  3. FEES?
    #1. NO MORE NEW FEES. Budget within your means, just like us taxpayers.
    #2. FEWER REGULATIONS. This increases to overall cost of all projects.
    #3. TAXPAYERS ARE OVER STRETCHED PAYING TAXES. This is WHY people and businesses are still leaving ILLINOIS.
    #4. CEASE & DESIST sanctuary city & State. Obvious extreme costs on us taxpayers. Said taxes are for our benefits, not illegals.
    LEARN HISTORY you politicians. Mass exodus began in the late 1960’s due to too many #1 and #2.

  4. Impact Fees and Affordable Housing
    Evanston has a strong brand during this l economic cycle.

    New Market Rate Housing equals more municipal and school taxes from new tax payers. Density equals tax revenue along with an improved housing stock

    The city should focus on revising the zoning laws to allow areas to be redeveloped as attached single family and small lot single family where units can be priced from 350 to 550k that service the 90000 to 150000k households. The true educate middle class who work service jobs and public sector jobs. This will bring new people into the community upgrade the local housing stock and improve school test scores.

    With little cost to the City educated people consume and pay taxes they are revenue positive.

    Tax Credit based housing consumes local resources and building 50 units only benefits a few lucky tenants. I have developed several hundred such units in Illinois and the Midwest.

    Tax Credit based also additonal economic burdens on our schools and just adds more low performing students with social issues. When located in inner ring suburbs.

    Growth is based on sound policies which I have seen around inner ring suburbs in Denver and Tacoma.

    Use a form based zoning and allow redevelopment in designated zones of the City without requiring PUD filings so that projects can be happen quickly. Using the concept of short plats and variable land use.

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