Evanston’s Planning and Development Committee discussed the zoning code’s definition of family. Here’s a recap of our live coverage.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. A packet with information on all the agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 5:06 p.m.

Minutes approved.

P1 – Renewal of contract for landlord-tenant services with Metropolitan Tenants Organizatoin and Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing.

Not to exceed cost of $87,500.

Sarah Flax, Housing and grants administrator, says he program provides guidance to landlords and tenants with training programs and a hotline service as well as mediation programs and legal representation for low-income tenants.

Says program has dealt with 409 cases in the past 11 months, a 34% increase compared to the same period the previous year.

Says did three online training sessions — which drew considerably larger audiences than prior in-person sessions.

Only about 7% of the cases originate with landlords, rest from tenants.

Says eviction, disturbances and utility issues have more than doubled since the past year.

New contract is to run for 15 months, to have the end point be at the end of the city’s next fiscal year on Dec. 31, 2021.

Approved unanimously.

P2 – Plat of subdivision for 2404 Ridge Avenue.

Public Comment

Chris Abernathy, neighbor, opposes the subdivision. Says is concerned about possible water runoff issues and access via the alley.

Chris Jones claims it will cause irreversible ill effects on the neighborhood.

Shawn Jones, attorney for property owner, says lot would be 45 feet wide and 200 feet deep. Says it complies with single family lot regulations.

Says has concerns about conditions city staff added — including dedication of a piece of the property, for expansion of the alley.

Says owner should be compensated for the taking of the alley expansion.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, says this issue has been under discussion for a couple of years. Not sure additional discussion would be productive. Says she has serious concerns about granting the subdivision because of access issues to alley. Notes there’s no on street parking on Ridge.

Says would be “pretty horrendous” for the neighbors to have do deal with traffic during construction of a new house.

She urges a no vote on the subdivision.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says are being asked to vote on a subdivision resolution that’s not what the applicant is asking for. Says clear there’s not a meeting of the minds. Says would have a hard time voting on it at all.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says she agrees that it should be a vote on what the applicant is willing to accept.

Motion is to table until Nov. 9. And that’s approved.


PDD1 – Regulations regarding the occupancy of dwelling units, including the definition of family.

Wilson says analysis of occupancy of dwelling units is based on definition of family — says it should be based on the configuration of the unit and the number of people — not their family relationships.

Says doesn’t want a household to have to justify its familiar relationships — government shouldn’t be involved in that, he says.

Says need better tools for addressing over-occupancy issues.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says she’s fine with taking a look at it, but doesn’t think will solve the occupancy problem.

Says issue should go to the Plan Commission for study.

Fiske proposes making referral to Plan Commission.

Wilson says doesn’t want to do that — want to be more clear to the commission.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says we’re not interested in defining family — but what replace that.

Revelle says commission should have a pretty broad discussion around issues like home sharing and different types of housing that would address a lot of affordability issues.

Fiske says council is not the expert on this — staff and Plan Commission are.

Wynne says Council has been discussing this issue in one form or another for quite a while and problems continue. Want to “maintain community.” Says it isn’t necessarily individual students but a sense of loss of community.

Wilson says three-unrelated rule hasn’t solved the legitimate problems. Should look at the physical capacity of the dwelling units and the neighborhood.

Motion is to refer to the Plan Commission.

Approved unanimously.


PDC1 – Mobility in the time of COVID-19

Jessica Hyink, transportation and mobility coordinator, does presentation, on how other cities and countries are dealing with public transit and COVID-19.

Says they’re getting more significant increase in transit traffic than here, because of greater confidence in safety.

Says new Divvy electric bikes don’t have to be returned to a dock — has increased mobility options.

Says expansion of delivery services is impacting tax revenue. Says some cities are imposing congestion taxes.

Motion to accept the report and place it on file is approved.

Meeting adjourned at 6:07 p.m.

City Council meeting to start at 6:15 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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