City moves to enforce ordinance on parking

Dalia Naamani-Goldman

Northwestern students and Evanston residents are facing greater scrutiny for city parking as local officials step up parking enforcement — such as monitoring the number of permits granted to each residence.

Evanston has asked the city’s parking department only to issue three parking permits per living unit to ensure compliance with an ordinance that outlaws more than three unrelated people living in one apartment unit.

“While we can’t enforce the legal code, we can limit the number of permits issued,” said Jean Baucom, Evanston’s parking systems manager.

Baucom said her department was asked to oversee the number of people from the same address who apply for permits — and to pay close attention if the number exceeds three. She said she has yet to see this happen.

Catherine Whitcomb, assistant to the vice president for student affairs, said some members of the NU community who dislike the ordinance might think about organizing a change in the future, but for now, students must follow city laws.

“What we’re left with as members of Northwestern is simply having to abide by it,” Whitcomb said. “It’s just there. These are rules the community agreed to live with.”

Whitcomb said the university plans to leave the parking and ordinance enforcement to Evanston officials.

“We wouldn’t ask them to come on campus and run our judicial system, and we’re not going to run their city laws either,” Whitcomb said.

The city enacted the ordinance in 1993 to prevent overcrowded living spaces, said James Wolinski, Evanston’s director of community development. In addition to regular home investigations by city officials, Evanston reacts to complaints by local residents in managing the number of residents per unit, Wolinski said.

“If we find overcrowding, we get it corrected,” he said.

Evanston also recently lowered the number of visitor parking permits granted to residents from 20 to 10, Baucom said. City officials discovered that too many people with visitor permits were parking in residential areas.

In addition to parking congestion, Wolinski said overcrowded apartments can lead to increased trash and rodent problems.

To help address such issues, Wolinski — along with Paula Haynes, the city’s director of human relations, and an Evanston Police Department representative — has held information sessions for students living off campus. The city officials discuss parties, legal conduct and tenants’ rights.

Casey Baker, a Communication sophomore who lives off campus with three other NU students, said the city’s crackdown on parking would not affect him because he and his roommates do not have cars at school.

“I think (the ordinance is) total crap,” Baker said. “To some extent, I understand the point is to curb a bunch of workers crowding into one apartment. But it’s up to you not to produce extra trash and rats.”