Aldermen discuss changes to the short-term vacation rental policy


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th) listens during a City Council meeting. Simmons recommended city staff include being an Evanston resident as a requirement for short-term vacation rental licenses.

Elizabeth Byrne, Summer Editor

Aldermen discussed potential changes to Evanston’s short-term vacation rental policy at Monday’s Planning and Development meeting.

Short-term vacation rentals, such as rentals through Airbnb, have been a topic of discussion in previous Planning and Development meetings after Evanston residents spoke out against past rental applications.

Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th) said requiring the applicant to be an Evanston resident could help prevent “absentee vacation home owners and operators.”

“If we have them as Evanston residents, then they are more likely to be accountable and committed to our community standards here and less likely to be negligent property owners,” Simmons said.

She added that the resident wouldn’t have to live in the property, but possibly down the street or nextdoor, just as long as they were Evanston residents.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said she would like to see the properties occupied by their owner during rental. She also raised concerns about investors buying properties in Evanston that could be affordable housing for Evanston residents.

“It’s not just having someone who’s on-site and does a good job of maintenance or is taking good care and making sure the guests are behaving themselves,” Revelle said. “It’s also because we’re worried about the availability of the affordability of our housing supply.”

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) warned the other alderman about making the short-term vacation rental application too hard, because it would deter Evanston residents from applying.

“The more difficult we make it, the more frequent you’ll find people who are not going to register, who are going to fly under the radar if we make it too complicated,” Rainey said.

Rainey added that she didn’t think it was necessary for the owners to be Evanston residents. She said it would only become an issue if the owner didn’t spend the majority of their time in Evanston or if the house was not their permanent residence.

Director of Community Development Johanna Leonard said the city does not currently have a way to track short-term vacation rentals without a license. She said if a resident wants to rent out their home for a period less than 30 days, then they must apply for a short-term rental license.

Leonard added that city staff will present this topic to City Council in September after reviewing amendments to the ordinance with the Law Department.

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