Nuances of nuisance ordinance leave tenants, EPD unsure

Scott Gordon

Fifteen months and one citation later, Evanston Police Department and local residents still are uncertain about the specifics of a nuisance residence program.

EPD Chief Frank Kaminski has a plan for enforcement, driven by his interpretation of the ordinance passed by Evanston City Council in November 2002. But he and others are learning the ambiguities of the law following the delivery of the first fine last week.

But the future of the law is less clear for those living in the nuisance homes.

Under a city ordinance, an Evanston residence can be designated a nuisance premise if it is cited for two noise violations within a six-month period. Application of the nuisance title is at the discretion of the EPD chief. So far he has named six nuisance premises since the beginning of Fall Quarter — all of them student residences in the Fifth Ward, to the west of campus.

The landlord of a nuisance premise is required to meet with the chief within 30 days of notification and present a corrective plan. If another citation is received within this period, the landlord can be fined $200 to $750.

In addition, Kaminski is allowed to expand the corrective action, but the ordinance does not specify what happens after that time is over.

Edward Crespo, who rents out apartments on the 2200 block of Ridge Avenue, is the first landlord to be fined under the law. He has since asked the four tenants to move out.

Kaminski said the responsibility rests with both individual tenants and landlords.

“If there are future problems,” he said, “it’s still going to be a nuisance residence.”

Since the law doesn’t address the matter specifically, Kaminski said it’s open to interpretation by the courts. Although the law is still uncertain, he plans to make the nuisance designation stand for a year.

New tenants moving into nuisance residents are also “put on notice” about the status of their properties, Kaminski added.

Crespo said following his citation, he is un sure how long the nuisance label will apply to his apartment properties at 2223 Ridge Ave. “I think it (still applies) for a period of time,” he said.

David Brill, a Weinberg senior whose house was deemed a nuisance residence during Fall Quarter, said he is unsure if it is still carries the nuisance designation.

“We personally haven’t had any correspondence with the City of Evanston about it,” he said. “That’s something I think is between our landlord and the city.”

Brill said he hasn’t had any trouble since the designation was imposed, and his landlord held the required meeting with Kaminski. Brill’s landlord declined to comment.