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Neighbors howl about vacation rental on Ashland

2515-ashland

Angry neighbors demanded Monday night that Evanston officials shut down a vacation rental operation in a home at 2515 Ashland Ave.

But aldermen postponed any immediate action, instead asking city staff to come up with a plan for regulating or banning such uses.

Mark Rozati, of 2509 Ashland Ave., said he wouldn't have bought on his block, across from St. Athanasius school, if he'd known there'd be a hotel next door.

Several speakers, including Jim Mullenix of 2525 Ashland Ave., said the city should be able to bar vacation rentals under the city regulation of home occupations or based on some other existing ordinance.

Others said they feared for the safety of children in the neighborhood with transients they didn't know living on the block.

An Evanston Now check this morning of a half dozen national websites offering vacation rentals found a dozen listings for homes, condos or apartments in Evanston, none of which appear to have drawn any public complaints from neighbors.

Listings for Evanston vacation rentals this morning on Airbnb.com.

Most list glowing testimonials from former renters and specify that the operators expect their guests to be quiet and not disturb the neighobrs.

But the property on Ashland has drawn complaints, as has another property at 1525 Dobson St., whose owner took the city to federal court after officials tried to shut it down.

That suit, which is still pending, has led to a preliminary ruling that has left the city's legal department leery of trying to launch a further crackdown on vacation rentals without new legislation.

Two aldermen who fought unsuccessfully recently to tighten regulation of bed and breakfast operations in Evanston — Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, tried Monday to link regulation of vacation rentals to a renewed effort to crack down on B&Bs.

But other aldermen were having none of that idea. Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said bed and breakfasts are very different. She said there's no supervision on site of vacation rentals.

"They're advertised as party houses," she said, citing the operation on Dobson in her ward.

None of the five Evanston vacation rentals listed on Airbnb.com this morning, or the five listed on Vacation Rentals By Owner, or the two listed on FlipKey promoted the properties as being suitable for partying.

Most, but not all, indicated that the guest would be renting a portion of the building or unit and that the owners would be on site during the stay.

No Evanston vacation rental listings were found this morning on Craigslist,  VacationRentals.com or HomeAway.com.

A previous staff proposal to license vacation rentals was rejected by aldermen at the Sept. 24 Planning and Development Committee meeting. Rainey called that proposal one of the most ill-considered ordinances she'd ever seen.

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