Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday’s Evanston City Council meeting.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
A packet with information on the agenda items is available online.
Meeting called to order at 6:36 p.m.
City Manager Luke Stowe introduces Andy Vick, new executive director of Downtown Evanston SSA.
Vick says he’s thrilled to be back home in Evanston. Has siblings living here.
Says hopes to see more people, retail and restaurants and more programming downtown.
Three minutes each.
Eric Paset asks about efforts to revive downtown. Says his company manages a downtown block in Wilmette, had one vacancy and 15 people interested in it. By contrast vacancies are high in Evanston.
Rob Bush, parks board chair, says will be seeking support for more improvements to parks. Says 11 parks are “legacy parks” that haven’t had any improvements in 25 years.
Several more speakers on various issues.
Special order of business
SP1 – Plastic bag ordinance enforcement
City manager says D&D Finer Foods bought a year’s worth of plastic bags before the bag ordinance was discussed. Believe can use up the remaining supply by the end of the year.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) says ordinance has been in the works for a long time, was adopted in May. Suggests should switch to the new bags, but maybe would be reasonable to have a carve out for smaller businesses until the end of the year.
Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) says in January set compliance date of April 1, 2024 — but as finally adopted at the end of May the ordinance had an Aug. 1, 2023 compliance date. Think that was a Council oversight.
Says Boston had an 18 month phase in.
Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) says Valle Produce in her ward donated $24,000 worth of bags to a soup kitchen. Suggests D&D could donate as well.
Reid suggests stores should charge more for bags.
Stowe says could allow grace period until Jan. 1 or just start enforcement. Says has $12,000 to $13,000 worth of bags left
Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) suggests allowing grace period until the end of the year.
Health Director Ike Ogbo says there are quite a number of businesses that are not in compliance. Have done inspections so far, working with store managers, informing them about the ordinance.
Suffredin says its not in the city’s best interest to do harm to businesses. If the decision is to not be reasonable, it’s another example of making it hard to do business in Evanston — leads to people locating businesses elsewhere — but still have access to Evanston consumers. People what access to Evanston consumers, but don’t want to have to deal with Evanston regulations.
Kelly moves to extend compliance period to Jan. 1. Wynne seconds.
Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) says city didn’t give enough of a grace period in adopting the ordinance.
Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says should limit the grace period to bags they already have and only to small businesses.
Reid moves to substitute the original motion to apply only to businesses with 10,000 or less square feet. Revelle seconds.
Reid adds that he wants to still have businesses collect the bag tax.
Nieuwsma suggests further restricting the amendment to apply only to businesses “burning off current inventory.”
Kelly says doesn’t like Nieuwsma’s proposal.
Harris calls the question on Reid’s substitute motion.. Wynne seconds that. It’s approved 9-0.
Delay enforcement until Jan 1, 2024, or until existing supplies have been exhausted, whichever comes first, for businesses under 10,000 square feet
Approved 8-1. Harris votes no.
Off consent: A26 (failed in committee), plus … A2, A12, A18, A20, A22, A23, A24, A25, PD1, ED1, ED2.
What’s left of consent agenda approved. (Kelly now has left the meeting
A2 – Amazon credit card activity
Approved 7-0-1. Suffredin abstains.
A12 – Forestry division equipment purchases
A18 – Animal shelter improvements change order
Laura Biggs, city engineer, says delays in availability of electrical equipment are raising concerns about possible further delays and cost increases.
A20 – Extended hours of liquor service at Ryan Field on football game days
Suffredin notes $2,600 in liquor license revenue. Unknown at this point how much liquor tax revenue it would generated.
Approved 5-1-1. Geracaris abstains. Suffredin votes no.
Suspension of the rules for A22, A23, A24, A25 approval for introduction and action tonight
A22 – Sale of 1808 Hovland Court to CPAH
A23 – Selling vacated alley to owner of 3320 Hayes St.
A24 – Four-way stop at McDaniel and Harrison
A25 – Special Service Area for Howard Street
PD1 – Private property tree ordinance
Revelle proposes amendment regarding pruning — allowing property owners to do own pruning, if follow industry standards.
Emily Okallau, public services coordinator, says bad pruning could lead to the complete decline of a tree. But would require equipment that most property owners don’t have.
Would only apply to 6 inch trees for the majority of trees.
Reid opposes amendment.
Nieuwsma favors the amendment. Says a homeowner could remove “suckers.”
Amendment approved 8-0.
Suffredin says he’s concerned about the encroachment on private property rights.
Asks if can reach out to tree care companies.
Okallau says staff has no data.
Suffredin asks whether it will increase the cost and slow down permit process.
Okallau says permit will cost $75, may or may not increase time for permit review process.
Suffredin asks whether may cause problems for projects already in the pipeline.
Harris says she’s worried about encroaching on private property with this ordinance.
Mayor Daniel Biss asks corporation counsel whether it’s imposing on private proporty.
Alex Ruggie, interim corporation counsel, says that if has good reason, can impose restrictions and thinks that’s present here.
Approved for introduction 7-1. Suffredin votes no.
ED1- CNSCVB funding for 2024
Suffredin objects to convention bureau’s support for Ryan Field project.
Paul Zalmezak, economic development manager, says the convention bureau is recognized by the state to represent the community and the hospitality industry by promoting events and seeking out groups seeking to do events. Brings larger groups to Evanston.
Gina Speckman, executive director of the convention bureau, says gets private funding from the businesses.
Says Northwestern is a member.
Reid says the bureau supports big hotels that have large markting budgets.
Speckman says the local hotels don’t have marketing budgets.
Reid says the hotel owners are doing just fine.
Nieuwsma says its money well spent — allocation of less than $70K in city funds. Says city gets much more value than its putting in. Says bureaus’s total budget is over $3 million.
Revelle says she was very disappointed that comments Speckman made in December were “very disparaging to her residents,” and that she will vote no.
Reid says Speckman’s comments seem “pretty mild to me.” Says doesn’t think council should be punishing business groups for advocating own positions.
Wynne calls the question. Nieuwsma seconds
That carries on a 6-2 vote. Suffredin and Reid vote no.
Funding approved on 6-2 vote. Suffredin and Revelle vote no.
ED2 – Hiring a full-time food service coordinator
Audrey Thompson, parks director, says don’t currently have anyone on staff to focus on food service. Believes it will be revenue neutral by next year.
Call of the Wards
Harris … Sept 14 at 7 p.m. ward meeting
Niewusma … Sat SEt. 6, Robert Grown ward meeting.
Revelle … ward meeting at parasol room tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
Reid … ward meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. at Levy Center.
Council votes to go into executive session to discuss workers compensation, litigation collective bargaining and minutes review.
Public meeting ends at 8:59 p.m.