Evanston’s Plan Commission voted Wednesday night to recommend zoning changes to require that a person with at least a one-third ownership interest live on site at any bed and breakfast.

But after a three-hour meeting the panel failed to recommend any distance requirement to separate B&Bs.

They also recommended that existing provisions requiring a special use permit for bed and breakfasts remain in place.

The existing city B&B ordinance only requires that someone with some ownership interest — potentially as little as one percent — live on site.

The Plan Commission recommendation, if adopted by the City Council, would effectively block additional bed and breakfast establishments operated on the model of the only two approved for the city so far.

Those two, owned by billionaire Jennifer Pritzker, have a person with a one-percent ownership interest as the on-site manager.

Both of those properties, at 300 Church St. and 1622 Forest Place, are still under renovation and have yet to open for business.

The commission heard testimony from a half-dozen lakefront residents and Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, who said the “fragile residenial neighborhoods” in her ward needed to be protected from commercial businesses like B&Bs.

Residents of the lakefront 1st and 3rd Wards, Fiske said, face the largest tax burden in the city, “and people come here expecting a certain quality of life.”

She suggested that residents who needed extra income from renting rooms in their home should rent to NU students as she and her husband had done when they first bought their home, rather than operating a bed and breakfast.

Given the city’s residential occupancy limit ordinance, a couple could only allow two unrelated persons to live in their home, while the bed and breakfast ordinance permits renting up to five guest rooms.

The panel Wednesday effectively dropped regulatory distinctions that staff had proposed between small B&Bs with no more than two guest rooms and ones with three to five guest rooms.

The City Council so far has failed to support changes to the two-decade old bed and breakfast ordinance. It approved special use permits for the two Pritzker B&Bs on 7-2 votes.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. “Fragile Residential Neighborhoods”

    While I do not disagee with Alderman Fiske's statement that the lakeshore neighborhoods have the largest tax burden in the city and people living there seek a certain quality of life.  What brick struck her on the back of the head to make her think that these neighborhoods are "Fragile"?  Invesments continue to be made in these homes, and the spread of B&Bs promises additional invesment and beautification in the neighborhood.  Col. Pritzker is promising to improve the homes and not leave them vacant.  Why do we turn her away?  What is so nefarious about B&B customers that we must shield our city from those brutes?  Is Alderman Fiske suggesting that the lakeside neighborhoods will be better off with undergrads dropping bottles of Boone's Farm while stumbling home from Dillo Day down Forest Ave than a middle aged couple staying at a B&B and taking a lesiurely stroll down the lake before dinner at Farmhouse, Dave's, Found, or Pete Miller's?

  2. I hope that the rules for B&B

    I hope that the rules for B&B's do not become too restrictive.  I find Alderman Fiske's reference to her ward's "fragile residential neighborhoods along the lakefront" slightly offensive.  I fail to see why those neighborhoods are any more fragile than the neighborhoods in other areas of the city, particularly those bordering the downtown area to the west and south. We live in the Ridge Historic District and do not own a house large enough to house our entire family when they come home at holiday time. Since we are retirees, do not want to live in a larger house. I would welcome a B&B in the immediate neighborhood, so that our children and grandchildren are nearby when they come to visit. 

  3. b and b ownership discussion
    in a comment on evanston now that i made some months back, i chided you, bill, and other writers for the shorthand description “billionaire jennifer pritzker”. i recommended “award-winning preservationist”, or “landmark developer” instead.

    nuf said.

    also, i too am completely puzzled by alderman fiske’s description of the lakefront as “fragile”. multi-million-dollar homes being continuously renovated; tax revenue in the $20ks and above; an historic district preserved by our wonderful ordinance and the homeowners who spend alot of their hard-earned money to comply with it; a gorgeous front yard for our city that visitors and passers-by admire: what’s fragile about that?

    i once again refer you back to my earlier comments about the huge benefits to the city of stratford, ontario from its hundreds of b and bs. i say: “bring ’em on”.

    mary brugliera
    middle class preservationist
    frequent b and b guest

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