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Skokie Passes Major Landlord Ordinance; Aims To Prevent Crime

Some speakers said it would reduce crime in the village; some landlords still objected to parts of the ordinance, saying it was too much regulation.



Some Skokie residents and landlords felt so strongly about the village's landlord-tenant ordinance--officially titled the Residential Rental Unit Standards and Neighborhood Integrity Initiative and Ordinance-- that, after more than a year and a half of work on it, they showed up in -16℉ weather Monday to make a final comment. 

The Skokie village board voted to pass the ordinance, which is intended to reduce crime, increase public safety and improve conditions for renters. Before the vote, however, some trustees alluded to the fact it wasn't perfect.

Trustee Randall Roberts noted the ordinance could always be tweaked, and Trustee Edie Sue Sutker observed neither side got everything they wanted.

"It’s not perfect; sometimes the good are inconvenienced because of the bad; this is one of those times. So I vote aye," said Trustee Ralph Klein. 

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After dozens of people packed a Nov. 18 village hall meeting and took turns making comments at the microphone, Mayor George Van Dusen limited Monday's comments to 10 people in favor of the ordinance as written and 10 who had concerns or were opposed.

Of those in favor, resident Marda Dunsky acknowledged village officials for responding immediately to a group of residents who approached them in 2011 with concerns about public safety. The group had researched the uptick in crimes against persons in Skokie, and found they were largely originating in multi-family areas. The village responded with the resulting months of meetings to develop various iterations of the ordinance. 

"Vote for this; it’s good for the community as a whole," she urged.

Paula Jacobson, a landlord speaking on the side of those with concerns about the ordinance, said, "We should’t feel like we’re enemies or on a different side. I don’t want crime to increase; it doesn’t help my property values. Perhaps we see the solution differently."

Noting she didn't object to the $25 per unit fee, Jacobson said, "What I’d like to understand, and I feel like I don’t, is if I give you that money, how is crime being reduced? What are you concretely going to do with that money?"

George Sweet had more strenuous objections, saying the American Civil Liberties Union, Shriver Center on Poverty Law and National Institute for Justice had concerns. 

"Some good landlords will abandon their underwater properties and flee this village," he said. "Nearly half of Skokie property owners are under water."

Two other landlords spoke, saying they didn't like the ordinance's requirement to post their contact information and phone numbers outside, and saying they would not do it.

But other speakers took the landlords to task.

"The village has been very accommodating to landlords and has revised the ordinance several times," said Mr. Koenig. "Still, it seems landlords would not budge. Many of them don’t even live here; it’s a business. For Skokie residents, it’s a matter of personal safety and quality of life." 

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shp January 10, 2014 at 08:31 AM
The impact of the revised ordinance depends on the enforcement. There is already an active Multi-family housing ordinance (or whatever it is called) that was reviewed by an outside source, which was said to be very effective. Why didn't that ordinance make an impact? Does Skokie Police and Village have enough manpower to provide enforcement. Does anyone know if the "study on whether Skokie has adequate Police" has been completed? You know the one that Skokie paid $58,000 to a consulting firm. Has anyone kept up on that?
David Floodstrand January 10, 2014 at 11:32 AM
I have had to contact the village about the lack of heat and the slow to action response from my landlord on several different occasions over the last 3 years. We like it here in Skokie, primarily because of the schools, and would rather not leave. It is very expensive for us to live here, but I would rather have a better quality of life in general than trade it for what my kids would have to deal with in the city. The village responded to our requests to help us get the minimum heat required by state law (68 degrees) from our landlord. I am grateful that the village responded, and sent someone out right away. They got my landlord to get into action, and our heat is now satisfactory.
Jackie Brown January 10, 2014 at 10:34 PM
It is good to read that this ordinance is a tool of empowerment to assist tenants and renters for a better quality of living. I hope the response continues to be positive, I had my doubts regarding this ordinance. Let's hope it make a better Skokie.
Winnetka January 10, 2014 at 11:50 PM
Any correlation between the uptick in crime in multi-family housing to the adoption of an aggressive housing choice aka / sec 8 housing initiative a few yrs ago?
Steve Mottel January 11, 2014 at 07:30 PM
Winnetka, without a doubt there is a correlation. Without a doubt. The truth hurts at times but it cannot be ignored.

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