Here’s a recap of our live coverage of this evening’s Evanston City Council meeting

The meeting is scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m.

A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 7:15 p.m.

All Council Members present.

Mayor’s announcements

  • LGBTQ Pride Month
  • Bike Week – starts June 21
  • National Gun Violence Awareness Day – was June 4
  • Juneteenth – June 19 – Parade from James Park @ 11 a.m.

Notes concern about Metra schedule change. Says will do the best to urge Metra board to rethink their plans.

No manager’s announcements tonight.

Public Comment

Mayor Biss notes that meeting is now nearly two hours late. Says plans to be rather rigid on public comment time restrictions tonight.

Says have 16 people asking to make public comment so they each get three minutes.

Most comments are on the proposed leaf blower ordinance

After public comment, Reid moves that leaf blower ordinance be considered first. Approved unanimously.

P6 – Leaf blower ordinance

Wynne moves approval. Reid seconds.

Revelle says have seen very strong opinions on all sides. Says ordinance tries to do too much too quickly. Eliminate use of all leaf blowers overnight and includes ban on electric leaf blowers. Says Environmental Board has recommended tabling the ordinance.
Suggests using the summer to come up with a better proposal. Return with revised ordinance at second meeting in September.

Says city has hired a 4th property standards inspector so should be able to do better enforcement job now.

Reid says favors action today, but with a few amendments. Says penalty should be on the business owner rather than the homeowner. Concerned about disabled and elderly residents. Would like to see the city follow the same rules its asking residents to follow.

Wynne agrees with Revelle. Says she’s opposed to leaf blowers but says ordinance moves too quickly without airing it out with residents. Says should develop educational program for homeowners so understand there are many more issues than just noise. Need to phase it in.

Fleming concerned about exemption for city and its contractors. Questions commitment to the goals if don’t comply as well.

Nieuwsma says Climate Action and Resilience Plan adopted 3.5 years ago called for phasing out gas powered leaf blowers and lawnmowers. Need to get moving. But thinks ordinance tonight leaves some things to be desired. Doesn’t like having city exempting itself. Should lead by example.

Ike Ogbo, health director, says his department has two inspectors and is looking to hire a third one. They handle a variety of inspection tasks — including leaf blower enforcement.

Nieuwsma suggests should at least extend the ban on gas powered leaf blowers as proposed in the ordinance.

Braithwaite says he hears more complaints about trucks of contractors than leaf blower noise. Says prices will increase if the ban is imposed and it will impact Black and Brown families.

Suffredin enforcement is all that really matters — people are upset about lack of enforcement.

City Manager Erika Storlie says city has an extensive investment in existing equipment, trying to replace with electric equipment. But when cleaning up large park like James Park — it’s a lot bigger job than a private lawn. Plans to include those issues as part of budget process for next year.

Now 8:40 p.m.

Kelly says need to gain full understanding of what the extra cost would be of a ban.

Nieuwsma moves to just extend the summer ban to Oct. 15 from the current expiration of day of Sept. 30. Eliminate all the other proposed changes contained in the proposed ordinance.

Says would be a show of good faith that intend to move in the direction of phasing out all gas powered leaf blowers.

Nieuwsma then withdraws motion (potentially in favor of Revelle’s proposal).

Fleming moves to change permissible times to 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Wynne says concerned about making amendments to this ordinance which is not well thought out. Suggests holding the ordinance until the second meeting in September and come back then with a comprehensive solution. Give time for input from landscaping companies and other stakeholders.

Revelle says will have a better product if take time and look at all the aspects and come back in September.

Reid moves to make the permissible hours to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and extend the ban to Oct. 15.

Kelly seconds that motion.

Carries 8-1 with Braithwaite voting no.

Ordinance as amended (to only make that one limited change to the ordinance is approved 9-0.

SP 1 – Planning for new Strategic plan and Comprehensive Plan

Deputy City Manager Kimberly Richardson does presentation. Says existing plans are seriously out of date.

Says cost of plans could be $60K to $200K. But says combining the two projects should result in savings.

Says if issue request for proposals by end of June should have proposals back by August or September.

Says could have plan finished by early 2022.

Fleming says she strongly favors moving forward with the planning process. Also provides a way for community members to have more input.

Biss says current comprehensive plan looks like its from another planet, not just another decade. Asks how it will tie in with the policies that the Council members ran on to get elected.

Richardson says plans to use racial equity process. But says process is not dictated on what people ran on, but what the community input provides during the process.

Approved 9-0.

SP2 – Hazard pay for certain employees

Braithwaite says has a number of businesses in his ward that have already offered hazard pay when there was a hazard. Says are now open and moving beyond the recovery phase. Says the urgency of this has passed.

Reid says only large corporate retailers would be impacted by this. Says he proposed an amendment to not have it apply retroactively that didn’t make it into the latest draft.

Wynne says has to be a process and the stakeholders engaged. Says none of the businesses in town have been contacted by Reid. Says there’s been no public process. Says this is not how we do good government. Says businesses say they have provided hazard pay and are startled that City Council would engage in such an activity without talking to them.

Fleming says the employers aren’t going to say they should have to provide more pay. Should make decisions best on what we think is best, not what our businesses think are best.

Reid moves to suspend the rules to allow for a hold. Fleming seconds.

Motion fails on a 5-4 vote

Reid says those who voted not to hold “don’t give a damn about what essential employees went through during the pandemic.” Says council members who’ve been here through the pandemic “should be ashamed.”

Reid proposes amendment to tie the bonus to state emergency declaration’s expiration (rather than the end of phase 5) as states now. Motion fails for the lack of a second.

Ordinance fails 2-7. Reid and Kelly vote in favor.

Consent agenda

Off consent B3, B6, B1, A1, A10, A13, P5

With those deletions, consent agenda is approved at 9:36 p.m.

A1 – Payroll and bills

Reid moves to pay $3,185 to an intern when he was city clerk. (Payment had been denied by the Council in the past.)

Braithwaite notes it was not addressed in committee tonight.

Cummings says the council has voted to not pay the invoice in the past and since the invoice has not been presented, there’s a possible open meeting violation.

Reid withdraws his amendment.

It’s now 9:46 p.m.

Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings says the city has already denied the invoice. Can’t be resubmitted. So vendor’s only recourse would be to sue the city.

Bills list (as originally presented) is approved

A11 – Restricted Parkway Plantings
Mistakenly approved on the consent agenda. Council votes to reconsider, rescinding the approval. The intent had been to table the proposal until September. With the reconsideration vote, it goes back to being tabled.

A10 – Municipal solid waste code amendment
Fleming concerned about proposed requirement to expand the snow clearing around waste carts that residents are required to do.

Says she doesn’t think it’s enforceable.

Approved 8-1 with Fleming voting no.

A13 – Sale of real property
Fleming wants to continue the existing double-noticing requirement.
Storlie suggests sending it back to committee to consider other noticing options.
Kelly says should be providing more information not less.
Cummings says actually the notice would be only required once.
Reid says the notice should be provided up front — before Council decides to sell a property.
Reid moves to return the proposal to the A&PW Committee. Fleming seconds.

Approved unanimously.

P5 – Welsh Ryan arena commercial use test extension
Opponents make presentation.

Revelle urges vote against the proposal.

Braithwaite notes all the sports events at Evanston Township High School. Says there’s a lot of events there. Would like to think that should try the pilot program at the university. If we on the west side can host large meetings (at the high school), should be able take a gamble on a pilot program at the university.

Motion fails 1-8. Braithwaite is the only vote in favor

Call of the wards

Nieuwsma… Ward meeting Tuesday July 6.

Revelle … Ward meeting Thursday, July 24

Reid … makes referral to Rules Committee to spread out committee chairmanships. Also refers to human services the decriminalization of all drugs.

Fleming … Next Ward meeting July 31.

Kelly … Ward meeting Thursday, 7p.m. at Noyes. Makes referral to not increase property taxes next two years.

Meeting adjourned at 10:38 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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