sheridan-square-riprap-diagonal-parking-gmap-201406

City officials say they hope to cut down on drug dealing and prostitution by changing parking rules on Sheridan Square in Evanston — but the changes may mean fewer parking spots available for people visiting South Boulevard Beach.

The city’s Transportation and Parking Committee voted Wednesday night to approve a six-month test of the restrictions after hearing complaints from residents that a diagonal parking area that faces lakefront riprap rocks north of the beach entrance has increasingly become a haven for illegal activities.

Daniel T. Coyne, a retired Chicago police officer whose condominium faces the parking area, said he regularly finds numerous soiled condoms and the small Ziploc bags used to sell narcotics and observes car-to-car drug dealing there.

“They can pull into the diagonal spaces and not be seen by cops and conduct their business even during the day when people are out barbequing in the park and children are playing,” Coyne said.

Melissa Wynne.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, whose 3rd Ward includes Sheridan Square, chairs the Transportation and Parking Committee, and supported the residents’ concerns.

“We need to get these changes in place as quickly as possible,” Wynne said. “We don’t have these activities elsewhere on the lakefront,” she added, saying the illegal activity was making the area “not safe for anybody at any time of day.”

All parking on Sheridan Square has been restricted to neighborhood residents from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. — but has been open to anyone at other times of the day.

Under the new rules developed by the city’s revenue and parking manager, Rickey Voss, the 45 diagonal parking spaces along the rocks will be limited to neighborhood residents 24 hours a day, while the 16 diagonal spaces near the beach entrance will be open to anyone, but with a three-hour parking limit.

That’s designed to be long enough for most people who come to visit the beach, Voss said.

Sheridan Square in an aerial view from the city website.

A three-hour limit would also apply to the west side of Sheridan Square opposite the beach, and to the east-west leg of the street — but neighborhood residents would be exempt from the time limit in those areas.

Amina DiMarco, a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board, objected to the plan, saying it would impact access to the beach and that maintaining accessibility is a paramount value.

She said the parks group should have been given an opportunity to work out a solution that would have less impact on beach and park access.

But Wynne said the plan was not attempting to limit access to the beach, but “to control this very, very serious situation where people are afraid to walk their dogs on that side of the street at night.”

Rickey Voss.

Voss, a retired Evanston police officer, said the diagonal parking makes it difficult for police to see into cars to see what’s happening while they’re driving by on patrol.

He said prostitution and drug dealing had been a problem in the area even before he retired from the force in 2004 and that most of the people who police do arrest in that area are from out of town — indicating that it’s become a well-known location for such activity.

With the new restrictions, Voss said, police will have a reason to check illegally parked cars and determine whether more serious illegal activity is taking place.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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31 Comments

  1. This is ridiculous

    This is ridiculous and illogical. If parking is already restricted to residents at night when the illegal activities are occuring, how is also restricting parking in the day time going to change that?  Its not. Sounds like they need more lighting and more of a police presence not parking restrictions that will make it harder for people to use South beach.

  2. Tough call, but the right

    Tough call, but the right decision. This will limit the 3 of the biggest vices; drugs, prostitution, and alcohol at our beaches.  Now, these people will need to go to one of Evanstons many bars and spend their money legally.

    1. You’re so Naive
      You’re so naive if you think this will make them spend money legally somewhere else. They’ll just find somewhere else to go as Evanston continues to turn into Iranaston.

  3. Why not use law enforcement?
    I just downloaded the daily police reports for April and May of 2015. There were zero incidents reported for prostitution based on a keyword search. If this parking lot is such a hot spot of illegal activity then why not have the police set up a sting to arrest people on both sides of the illegal transactions? I would think that would lessen the attractiveness of this location for customers. I realize there is a cost, but it is better than limiting public access to a beach.

  4. Keeping the riff-raff out
    If diagonal parking is the problem, remove the diagonal parking and replace it with parallel or 90′ spots. Not all Evanston residents are fortunate enough to live close to the lake. Making the parking illegal for all those other than the immediate neighbors sounds discriminatory.

    Might be nice to publish some crime statistics instead of relying on the fears of some residents. Someone explain the connection between “people are afraid to walk their dogs on that side of the street at night” with daytime parking restrictions.

    1. Limiting Residents’ Use of South Boulevard Beach

      This is a ridiculous solution.  If the problem is a night time issue, then require an Evanston City Sticker or Permit Parking to park in those spots after 6 or 7:00 PM and get parking enforcement over there.  As a south Evanston resident who uses South Boulevard beach, this restriction gives the appearance of making South Boulevard a private beach for the residents of that street.  To park anywhere else requires people to walk across busy Sheridan road laden down with chairs, children, picnic baskets, beach umbrellas and whatever else we tote to the beach.  I can't imagine a more dangerous solution to this issue.  Since the area is two blocks long at most, can't our officers get out of their vehicles and walk along the sidewalk periodically?

    2. Crime, parking, and out-of-towners

      It's always the same nonsense coming from the NIMBYs.   "People from out of town are coming here and causing crime and taking our parking spaces….let's pass a law against them."  
       

  5. Everyone who uses South beach

    Everyone who uses South beach or thinks public beach access is important should contact Alderman Wynne asap and let her know that imposing draconian daytime parking restrictions in the only lot for that beach is completely unacceptable and is not even a sensible plan for dealing with nightime illegal activities. Her email address is mwynne@cityofevanston.org

  6. This makes no sense

    This makes no sense.  So there are no police reports and no arrests, but the problem is so severe we need a new set of restrictions on parking so that police will have a reason to check cars?  So potential ticket revenue will motivate the police to go there, but if its just rampant crime, they will ignore it and not care?  

  7. Shame on Evanston officials if they pass this parking ban

    What's next for Evanston? Banning cars, because people are speeding in Evanston?

  8. Evanston lakefront only for the rich

    This is a test case by our some of our current elected officials to try and keep the east side of Evanston easily accessible only to those who live there.  If you look at all of the effort to stop a meaningful development of the mansion you can get a feel for what is comming next to the rest of the lakefront.  If they can keep the riff-raff out of the far northeast beach, then why not the other beaches that are home to people with money.  If you lived in a $1,000,000 plus mansion would you want commoners in your sight?  This is disgusting! 

    1. Unbelievable Claim

      Beaches only for the rich and a test case to keep commoners out is just a ridiculous claim and a falsehood.  Just such a sad and old claim with no merit.  If that is your view on this issue, and frankly your view in general, then I feel sorry for you.  The Occupy farce has ended, move on.

      1. Arrogance

        You must feel sorry for many of the posters to this story and my numerous neighbors who also have voiced this view.  I too agree with much of the poster's comments and find your responding comments very arrogant.  Instead of lashing out because an Evanston resident and neighbor actually put into text the very thing that many residents in far south and southwest Evanston feel (and west Evanston as well), you might consider exactly why so many of us feel that way.  Perhaps you are unable to explore those thoughts… the benefits of all that parking being limited for Sheridan Square residents may be Occupying your thoughts, Dan. 

  9. How many incidents have been

    How many incidents have been reported to the police – there have been none in the evanston crime blotter for the past yewar which is strange if there is such a sever problem here that it needs a draconian solution that limits pubic access to public resources.

    What measure have been tried, and have failed to combat the probem beofe resorting to a worst case scenario of blocking public access to a public resource?

    Has police presence been increased? Has the survalence truck been deployed?  Whay does public acccess need to be restricted during daytime hours?

    This all sounds like area residents wanting to save themselves the inconvenience of competing with beach and park users for parking by creating a problem that needs a solution that works to their advantage.

    1. Sheridan Square incidents

      From May 1 2014 to May 27, 2015 there have been 5 incidents or arrests on Sheridan square in the Evanston Daily crime reports.

      3/26/2014: dui

      6/8/2014:  cannabis possession

      7/7/2014: stolen bicylcle

      8/3/2014:  shots fired

      9/20/2014:  shots fired

      I agree, if this were a marketplace for illegal transactions then the police would be able make a difference.

      1. And clearly we should not

        And clearly we should not allow parking anywhere in Evanston because there are at least that many "incidents" in a year in pretty much all of the neighborhoods other than maybe the northwest corner…

         

  10. Investigation

    City needs to have  the police department. Discuss this with all the residents under oath and get fact before  the banning of tax payer residents to those spaces is approved. Also why are they allow to have those space available from 9 am till 6am?  Overnight parking for guests?  I am required to get a  permit for my guests? 

  11. Shame on Melissa Wynne
    I walk my dog on the path along Sheridan Square every morning and night. I have never seen any evidence of prostitution or drug dealing. These manufactured lies are crafted to justify the use of public funds and public property to create a private parking lot for rich condo owners. Shame on Melissa Wynne.

    1. Dog walking in Sheridan Square / South Boulevard Beach

      Mr. Sutter – perhaps you could send an e-mail to Alderman Wynne letting her know you regularly walk your dog in that area in the morning and at night. Based on her comments that this parking ban is "to control this very, very serious situation where people are afraid to walk their dogs on that side of the street at night," she is under the impression dog walkers fear the area. Your comment shows that there is at the very least one brave soul! Mayhap you've even [gasp] seen other dog walkers in the night…..?

      1. I regularly walk our dog then

        I regularly walk our dog then early in the morning and late at night as well and have never seen any of the activity described and have never felt unsafe. Indeed I let my kids walk the dog down there alone in the evening with no worries.

    2. Beach Bums

      I live here and also have not observed the severe crime description. I find it hard to believe, as this is such a high pedestrian traffic area, as well as cyclists and a number of cars passing through. I also felt this was a cynical play at further restricting the parking for residents. The result will be further decline in the already low numbers of visitors to SBB. What’s next?…a proposal to build a marina because SBB is in disuse… 

      1. Marina at South Boulevard Beach?

        I'm glad you said it Sun Burnt!  It was one of the first thought I had when I read the story.  There have been two attempts to grab that beach with the idea of making it a marina and residents have been opposed.  In each instance, the city backed down.  If the city is able to limit the beach use even more, it will be an all to easy move to a marina.  Then the residents can look at the oil slick that once used to be beautiful South Boulevard Beach and they can enjoy the sound of boat motors throughout the boating season. 

        Odd that this "6 month test" to restrict parking just happens to fall during the summer months when the beach use would be at its highest! 

      1. So what happened at the meeting?
        So what happened at the meeting? I was not able to attend, and am hopeful enough reasonable objections were voiced to put this plan on hold. Does anyone know the outcome? Thank You

  12. There goes that beach. :-/

    Are they going to take away parking for all the beaches next?  What would the point of a beach pass be, if I can't get my family there in a safe manner?

  13. Beach – Listen to DeMarco!

    Who would know better than Amina DiMarco?  As noted in the article, she's a member of the city's Parks and Recreation Board,

    Removing some parking in that area will impact the small families who regularly visit that beach .  What with small children and various hand-carried beach paraphenia, this will create an unnecessary hardship for many of the citizens of this area.

    Many people move to the densely populated 3rd ward because it's close to transportation as well as being close to the beautiful lakefront.  In fact, a new multi-unit building is currently under construction at Main & Chicago.  If Lincoln School, in that area (Judson and Forest) is projected to be overcrowded, that means lots of kids, lots of youngsters who love to go the beach. The demographics of this area, not counting the lakefront houses, suggest a need for more, not less, parking.

    Why can't a policeman regularly patrol this beat as someone else pointed out?  It would present a simple solution to problem which may or may not (according to a post here) exist.  

    As a citizen of the 3rd ward who would be affected by such a change, I'm disappointed in Melissa Wynne.

    1. Just back from South beach

      Just back from South beach (10:30 pm) and shocked to report that there was no crime to be seen!  Lots of dog walkers and joggers but (gasp) no sex or drug deals…

       

      1. No Crime At South Boulevard Beach Sighted

        Thank you for checking out the situation over there and giving us an update!  I sure hope Melissa Wynne is reading the posts to this story.  It should bring her the realization that some of the residents on that tiny street might be stretching a single incident so that they can grab up the parking for themselves. 

        For the residents who are pushing for the parking restrictions, you chose to move next to a public park and that knowledge should tell you that you will have difficulty finding parking at times…. especially during the summer months.  I live near James Park and when a drug ring was being run out of there several years back, no one thought about limiting parking to residents.  As a resident adjacent to that park, the idea of voicing such a request sounds patently ridiculous to my own ears.  Please, join the rest of us back in the real world, and give up this folly of restricting parking.  Do it for your neighbors who are unable to enjoy 24 hour views of our beautiful lake and who must travel laden with beach paraphernalia to visit such beauty for a few all too short hours!

  14. Wrong Approach

    Last summer, a car parked in front of my condo building on the 500-600 block of Michigan Ave. (just a few short blocks from the South Blvd. beach) was blown up in the middle of the night. It turned out the car had been stolen from Chicago and may have been involved in other crimes. Despite the terrible danger the fire posed to area residents and property, no one suggested implementing parking restrictions on our street to prevent similar incidents nor have they suggested closing down Baker Park because drug activity and condoms have been spotted there on occasion. Instead, neighbors pushed for a greater police presence which is exactly what should be happening on Sheridan Square if indeed there is criminal activity going on there. Additionally, as a long-time community activist who helped lead the campaign to keep the South Blvd. beach open and stop the marina development which was proposed for that location many years ago, I think it is absolutely appropriate for residents to question the motive in limiting parking access there. And, I definitely plan to bring these points up at Alderman Wynne's 3rd Ward meeting tonight. Finally, as a point of clarification for those who seem to think that the South Blvd. beach serves a wealthy clientele, most of the families I know who go there live in the moderately priced condos and rental apartments in the area not million dollar lakefront mansions. Just sayin…

  15. As a 44 year resident of

    As a 44 year resident of Sheridan Square, I have a perspective that might be different from that of newer residents.

    Let me start with a little history.  South Boulevard Beach is naturally a pebble beach, and as such it was enjoyed only by local residents who came to play and swim.   The city brought in sand, put up a fence, and began to charge admission, thereby inviting all of non-Sheridan Square residents to come and use this now multi-purpose beach.  Parking was originally parallel on both sides of the street, and the city put in angle parking on the south and east sides so that more parking spaces could be available.  The idea that the city would now make it difficult for non-Sheridan Square residents to use this beach is not logical.

    In the early 1970’s at the height of recreational drug use, Garden Park would, at night, sometimes have 300-400 people there, destroying property, breaking glass, screaming with drug use, and in general causing disturbance.  The police were afraid to go into the park.  All other cities’ Lake front parks from Chicago through the North Shore were closed at ll:00 p.m., so most delinquent activity funneled into Garden Park.  As a result of a neighborhood meeting with the Alderman and the Police, the town council passed an ordinance that closed Lake front parks at 11:00 p.m.  After concentrated patrolling for a while, the Park became empty and quiet.  We did not solve the problem by eliminating parking spaces.

    Sheridan Square has a democratic history:  all other Lake front streets in Evanston instituted resident-only parking at night.  We were the last to do so, and only out of self-defense because there were now so many fewer spaces for residents.

    The statement from Martin Lyons and Rickey Voss to Alderman Wynn and the Transportation/Parking Committee seems to indicate that they believe two problems will be solved by this action: elimination of crime, and increased parking for residents.

    It seems to me that a more direct, efficient, and democratic way to solve the crime problem, if indeed there is one, is to have the police walk along that one block area as frequently as required until the problem is solved.  People have complained about illegal activities at night, and it seems that to close the affected area after 11 p.m., again with concentrated patrolling, would solve that problem (although the proposed change in parking shouldn’t affect the problem at night because it is already resident-only parking there).

    We have seen no data to indicate that beach/parking use by non-Sheridan Square residents has increased.  I think that such data ought to be presented before any permanent action is taken.

    Not only is it not a democratic solution to eliminate parking spaces along the street so that it is difficult for non-residents to use the beach, the residents on Sheridan Road and Michigan Avenue already have a tight parking situation, and this action would put an additional burden on them.  They would then, in a domino reaction, ask for resident-only parking.  Not much useful would have been accomplished.

    To eliminate parking spaces for non-residents is not democratic, and certainly not worthy of Evanston.  Please solve this problem by police patrol rather than by changing the parking regulations.  

    1. Fascinating historical perspective

      I really enjoyed reading your historical perspective, arachne23. It was well-written and presented a novel approach to this occasionally contentious issue. To your comments, I'd like to add my somewhat less-historical, non-Sheridan square but "close to beach" observations for it would apply to non-residents as well.

      As a resident of the 3rd ward for a long time, I've seen the demographics of SE Evanston, especially in my ward, change dramatically. As buildings were torn down, larger high rises were built in their place. Where allowed, when houses were sold they too were replaced, not by McMansions but by multi-unit dwellings as the zoning allowed. All of these changes increased the density of the area making parking for everyone a "trial." The last time I checked, there was a long waiting list for the available spaces in nearby public parking lots. BTW, this situation will only worsen as a nearby high rise under construction (with few parking spaces) has been allotted spaces in one of these nearby lots. Where will the displaced people park?

      You said that the residents on Sheridan Road and Michigan Avenue already had a "tight" parking situation. Let me add to that Forest and Judson. Just *try* to find a space in the evening. Or on alternate side of the street parking days. Or on weekends.

      Everyone in this area is impacted by the shortage of parking available. Everyone is vying for spaces, residents AND non-residents. The solution proposed by you, arachne23 and others earlier in this thread (police patrol), seems like a simple, logical, easy-to-implement solution to this particular issue. Only data, as you mentioned, could shed light on whether this is a "problem" or not.

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