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EVANSTON, IL: Votes “no” on ADU moratorium (accessory dwelling unit)

I’m glad to report that last night (Sept. 13, 2021) Evanston’s City Council voted 5-4 against a moratorium on permits for internal ADUs (separate apartments) if the property is not owner-occupied. If that sounds like gobbledygook, it is. That’s the problem with trying to micro-manage human behavior through zoning. It’s also the problem with proceduralism (see below).

Here are my talking points against the moratorium — and in favor of unequivocal City support for all ADUs — coach houses, backyard homes, tiny houses, subdivided single family homes, etc. As the City of Evanston starts to develop a class consciousness around affordable housing (and other issues), these might come in handy.


Evanston has a history of subdividing single family homes according to economic downturns. This is actually one of the things that makes Evanston housing stock so diverse and most Evanston neighborhoods so interesting. This history dates back at least to the Great Depression (1930s) and I suspect it dates back further.

We are in an economic downturn that’s only going to get worse for most people, even as some people are getting super-rich (climate chaos). ADUs, unequivocally supported by the City of Evanston, are an essential part of affordable housing. 

In my opinion, a moratorium won’t solve any of the structural problems that are being touted as caused by or exacerbated by allowing internal ADUs:
— Absentee landlords (why does U.S. law allow absentee ownership, why do foreign companies own 40% of Iowa farmland, why does the real estate industry encourage foreign investment)
— Bad absentee landlords (people who don’t follow laws won’t follow laws)
— Town-gown relationship (homeowners who buy homes near a university should know what they’re getting into)
— Human need for noisy, physical outlets, especially among young people
— Lack of class consciousness in U.S. (especially evident in Evanston and the North Shore). This is one of the reasons that I study monetary and banking policy.

This moratorium is proceduralism at its worst: Killing time in order to kill the issue so people don’t have to deal with the real issues (see #2). 

Another term for proceduralism is micro-managing.
Another term for proceduralism is bad faith.
(See Adam Serwer’s latest article in The Atlantic about Texas Republicans and abortion.)

I agree with those who point to the Great Lakes as a major destination for internal U.S. migration — possibly sooner rather than later, as lack of water problems continue in the west, southwest, even in the Midwest as close as Minnesota. We in the Chicago area and Evanston need to be more welcoming. If we can’t be welcoming, at least we need to be ready. It’s going to happen.