City regroups to address nuisance premises following gunshots, death


Daniel Tian/Daily Senior Staffer

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Police Chief Richard Eddington spoke at a news conference Monday about the city’s plans to address 11 properties with a history of police activity. Six of the 11 properties are located within a block of Evanston Township High School.

Marissa Page, Assistant City Editor

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, in conjunction with the Evanston police and fire departments, presented a plan Monday to combine the efforts of both departments in combating premises that have a pattern of misconduct throughout the city.

The announcement came five days after shots were fired near Evanston Township High School and one of the shooters fled into a house in the 1800 block of Lake Street. Just over a week before in the same area, a woman was found dead of a suspected drug overdose in the backyard of a property at 1716 Dodge Ave.

These properties, both located just a block away from ETHS, were on a list of 11 nuisance premises listed today that have each been the subject of dozens of neighborhood complaints and calls to the Evanston Police Department.

“These are homes with 76 total police activities,” Tisdahl said at a press conference held Monday at the Evanston Fire Department Headquarters, 909 Lake St. “No one should have to live next door to places like that.”

Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington said over the next month, EPD, the fire department and the city’s property standards staff will visit the properties to assess them for all possible violations.

“We are going to tailor our efforts over the next 30 days to address these properties, and we’ll come back in 30 days with an update on how successful our efforts have been,” Eddington said.

Out of the 11 properties, 10 are known gang hangouts, according to notes compiled by Evanston police Cmdr. Joseph Dugan that were distributed at the news conference.

The other house, located in the 2000 block of Asbury Avenue, is designated as a Northwestern off-campus party house.

“If you look at these numbers for each individual address, these are consuming a huge amount of public resources on a small amount of properties,” Eddington said.

The properties are largely concentrated on the west side of the city, with six located within a block of ETHS.

“When you start to ask the question to teenagers, ‘How many are there around the high school?’ and they say ‘There are six,’ the reaction is ‘Whoa, that is six too many,’” Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) told The Daily earlier this month.

Braithwaite’s ward encompasses ETHS.

City Council plans to discuss revising Evanston’s current nuisance premises ordinance — which was first enacted in 2007 — to help streamline the process of addressing these properties and better hold landlords responsible for crime and disruption from their tenants, Tisdahl said.

“Screening tenants is the landlord’s responsibility,” she said. “They do not do it, we will hold them responsible.”

City attorney Grant Farrar said the ordinance would make it so that several city departments will be inspecting the reported properties for violations, which should be more effective in identifying misconduct.

“We’ll form a coordinated approach so that all of the service issues related to anything that’s implicating a code violation in any of the city codes can be addressed in one swoop,” Farrar said. “It’s the same approach that the city has used consistently over many, many years. … It’s just having a more holistic approach.”

Tisdahl said although addressing the city’s nuisance premises is crucial, these properties comprise just a portion of crime in Evanston. The new system won’t solve all of Evanston’s crime problems, but she said it is a start.

“Our residents have a right to crime-free neighborhoods,” Tisdahl said. “It is our job to help them, and we are going to do our job.”

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