Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday night’s Evanston City Council meeting.
The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:10 p.m.
A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.
Meeting called to order at 6:20 p.m.
Seven council members present. Suffredin and Wynne absent.
Mayor Daniel Biss reads Arbor Day (April 29) proclamation.
He announces that because of the U.S. Census, the newly appointed Redistricting Committee will meet Tuesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. in Civic Center, chaired by Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma.
Mayor also announces the death last week of the city’s lakefront director, Adam Abajian.
And he also notes the event this afternoon gathering to celebrate the first recipients of grants under the city’s reparations program.
Interim City Manager Kelley Gandurski says Abajian had been a dedicated member of the city staff and will be be greatly missed.
Several speakers advocate for adoption of climate emergency resolution.
Special Orders of Business
SP1 – Reparations Program Update
Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) notes event today acknowledging the first 16 reparations recipients. Mentions that reparations efforts are expanding to other communities including Providence, Rhode Island; Amherst, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C.
Says the up to $25K is not going to make anyone whole, but it’s a start.
Thanks city staff for efforts to launch and implement the program.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) says city is not on track to meet the $10M over 10 years funding goal for the program. Says could take another two years before could do another 16 grants at the rate cannabis tax revenue is coming in now.
Report accepted, placed on file.
SP2 – Climate Action and Resilience Plan implementation update
Cara Pratt, sustainability and resilience coordinator, says climate change will exacerbate problems in the city. Notes that the program calls for both mitigation and resilience efforts
Says the city has reduced its emissions by 35% from 2005.
(More detail in the packet.)
Pratt says reaching the 2050 goal will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) encourages staff to make strong proposals for change.
Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says city is going to “get there” — but don’t know how yet.
Says going to have to ask more of the community.
Approved, placed on file.
SP3 – Climate Emergency declaration
Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) says she’s heartened by the enthusiasm of council members about CARP goals.
Says her scientist father-in-law predicted as early as the 1950s the potential impact of climate change.
Off consent: A2, A12, A13 (held in committee), A22, A23, P1 (held in committee), P2, H1 and F1.
With those exceptions, consent agenda approved.
A2 – Christy Webber landscape contract
Reid says he wants more local contractors and ones that are “better corporate citizens.”
Approved 6-1. Reid votes no
A12 – Five-Fifths TIF amendment
(Technical amendment to drop a couple of tax parcels that were included in the legal description in error.) Approved for introduction and action tonight.
A22 – Truck routes and bicycle routes amendments
Nieuwsma and Reid move to hold until next meeting.
A23 – City code building and housing regulations update
Adopting latest (2021) edition of international model codes.
Johanna Nyden, community development director, says building codes need to be updated. Says some climate action and resiliency items are included in the new codes.
Says it affects new construction and remodeling, not maintenance of existing conditions.
Nieuwsma and Revelle say the measure is important for climate action plan.
Approved 6-0. (Reid absent for this vote.)
P2 – Parking variation for Varsity Theater development
Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) praises developer for the adaptive reuse of the building.
H1 – Noise ordinance amendment
Revelle offers amendment to remove another vague provision from the ordinance — difficult to enforce fairly. (That amendment language is already in the packet — at 8-3-1(A) — but wasn’t part of the ordinance as approved in committee.)
Amendment approved 7-0.
Reid says he doesn’t support the ordinance as drafted. Says thinks should raise the permitted decibel level. Doesn’t like the 750 foot reference either. Wish had had a demonstration of the sound levels.
Burns says he’s dubious about whether decibel meter equipment can adequately distinguish among different sound sources.
Kelly says ordinance would undermine bringing community together. Concerned it will lead to unnecessary policing.
Nieuwsma says inclined to support the committee proposal — but says it’s hard to quantify how annoying something is to somebody. Really comes down to good neighborliness.
Revelle says if a loudspeaker was at 75db, it would diminish to 55db at 750 feet away — although measurements are complex.
Reid moves to refer the item back to the Human Services Committee.
Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) seconds.
Motion approved 7-1 to send back to committee (Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) has arrived at the meeting.)
F1 – Amending 2021 budget
Reid says there were $3.5M to $4M of budget items that weren’t approved by the Council.
City Attorney Nicholas Cummings says every bills list came before the City Council for approval.
CFO Hitesh Desai says adopted budget was $296M and actual expenses were $266M. All spending was approved by the City Council, he says.
Kelly feels that it was “uninformed consent” — need to be informed if something was exceeding budget, she says.
Nieuwsma says city came in 10% under budget — should congratulate selves on that performance. Budget is only an expectation of the amount of money you plan to spend, he says, adding it’s entirely reasonable to anticipate that some items will come in over budget.
Kelly moves to hold the item.
Nieuwsma moves to overturn the hold. Braithwaite seconds that.
Motion fails for lack of 2/3rds margin (Vote was 5-3. Reid, Burns and Kelly voted against the hold.
Call of the wards
Burns … April 28, 7 p.m. ward meeting — Among the topics … Supt. Horton to discuss Haven School discipline issues
Revelle … 7 p.m. Thursday, Ecology Center … topic is planning for rebuilding of the Lincoln Street bridge.
Reid … 6 p.m. Thursday online ward meeting … “Evanston Grows” group will be on the agenda … also truck route on Custer Street.
Geracaris … 7 p.m May 5 ward meeting.
Council votes to go into executive session at 9:25 p.m.