Devon Reid.

A last-minute change introduced this week to a package of zoning updates would dramatically ease parking requirements for new developments in much of Evanston.

The proposal, from Ald. Devon Reid (8th), would expand existing Transit Oriented Districts to cover most of the eastern half of the city.

Current rules apply the less-restrictive TOD parking rules to areas within one-eighth mile of a rail transit station and to all property within a quarter mile of a station along main commercial corridors.

Reid’s proposal would expand that to include all areas within a half mile of a rail transit station.

The map below shows the existing boundaries outlined in black, and a rough approximation of what the new boundaries would be in red.

Existing TOD boundaries in black, and a rough approximation of proposed new boundaries in red.

Reid said the change would allow construction of more affordable housing in those areas and help reduce transportation costs.

He said there’s research that clearly shows the distance people are willing to walk to transit is a half mile.

The city’s zoning administrator, Melissa Klotz, said city staff agrees with the proposed change, calling it a “best practice.”

Multi-family parking spaces per unitOutside TOD areas (without affordable units)In TOD area (without affordable units)Outside TOD areas area (with affordable units) In TOD area (with affordable units)
1 BR or less1.250.550.750.55

There was some hesitancy about the change at Monday’s Planning and Development Committee meeting.

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) wanted to hold the proposal until a future meeting, but didn’t get a second for that idea.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) said the change would “add an awful lot of new territory” to the TOD districts, and Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said she’s prefer to have a map showing the proposed changes before voting on it.

But in the end, Reid’s proposed change was included in the bundle of zoning amendments and it was approved for introduction at the full City Council meeting later that night.

Staff promised a new map would be available for review before the Council votes to adopt the bundle of zoning changes. That vote is scheduled for July 24.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. I am all for it! Pair that change with making the approval process for construction faster and less risky (for buildings within certain parameters) and I expect it would bring economic benefits and make Evanston more walkable. It will be easier for retail business to live with the fair work week ordinance if they have more customers walking in.

    I guess when we get an alder with big ideas and does not have much of a filter, there are going to be some suggested changes we disagree with, but then some which are welcomed.

  2. I don’t always agree with Mr. Reid, but credit where credit is due – this is a fantastic idea. Loosening onerous, outdated parking requirements will reduce costs for developers while helping the city meet its climate goals by attracting residents who want to live car-light or car-free in Evanston. Ours is one of the few suburbs in America where such a lifestyle is possible for those who seek it – we should embrace it and use it as a selling point. I hope the council passes this quickly. Thank you, Alderman Reid.

    1. Reid supported the Chicago Avenue project and now this. The man is on a roll.

      If you truly want more affordable housing, then you’ve got to remove barriers to development and Alderman Reid seems to realize this. I wish the rest of the council would.

  3. It is strange that the parking requirement per 3 BR unit in TOD are with affordable housing at 1.65 is greater than the parking requirement per 3 BR unit outside TOD area with affordable housing at 1.5.

    I don’t see a good reason to have a different parking requirement for buildings with affordable units at all.

  4. It seems to me that would make parking much more difficult for the residents who already live in those neighborhoods. And yes, we can assume many people who live in those areas take public transit, however many of those people also own cars that they either park in a garage or designated space w/ their condo or apartment OR they already park on the street. I moved to SE Evanston 26 years ago because street parking in the neighborhood was easy (as compared to Chicago), and I appreciated that. It seems that this will make street parking much more difficult for residents of Evanston as well as for their guests. SE Evanston used to have a homey neighborhood feel to it, and with changes like this, it’s on its way to becoming more & more Chicago-like with congestion, crowding, etc.
    I sure wonder how Devon comes us with all of these “bright” ideas, and I also wonder if the city staff is more concerned with placating developers than maintaining the rights and needs of Evanston citizens.
    With all of the development that has been coming to Evanston lately, SE Evanston (and frankly most of Evanston) is turning into Lincoln Park North or Wrigleyville.
    Why is no one working to keep Evanston feeling like Evanston?

  5. Agree with Rose – what are people supposed to do who live in these areas and currently rely on street parking? Many older buildings in Evanston do not offer any sort of off-street parking, or have an extremely limited supply – they were built before cars! This will make a lot of apartment buildings ineligible for street parking permits. Even more problematic is these TODs will encompass basically all multi-family housing in the city. I understand the need to allow more development, but forcing hundreds or thousands of residents to either relocate or sell their car is not a great solution.

    1. Hi AB,
      The proponents’ theory is that the smaller amount of on-site parking at those new developments will be sufficient to meet the parking demand they create.
      This is supported by the reality that several downtown developments built before the rules were changed have ended up with large amounts of parking garage space unused by tenants and have sought city approval to start renting it out to the public.
      Whether the proposed new rules will be adequate in practice — well, if they and up being approved, we’ll find out.

      — Bill

      1. This makes sense for larger buildings in downtown – was not aware there was so much excess parking in those areas. My comment was mostly in reference to smaller buildings (8-12 units), especially in SE Evanston. One or two residents with an extra car creates a real strain in those situations. If rules retroactively applied to older buildings, there could be a lot of renter friction and relocation. Perhaps in some of the 100+ unit condo buildings downtown, the numbers might be large enough to even out, but in smaller buildings this would make the room for error even smaller.

  6. Parking minimums are disastrous policy: wasteful of space and of taxpayers’ money, and oblivious to every trend in sound urban development and car ownership. Evanston already has a glut of parking—why should we compound an existing surplus with more of the same?

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