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Rats! Aldermen Say Evanston's Got Rodent Problems

Two aldermen report that rat sightings are up, but the current ordinance won’t allow the city to exterminate in condos or commercial real estate properties.

Two Evanston aldermen are calling for the city to change an ordinance that limits the health department’s ability to respond to local rat infestations.

At Monday night’s city council meeting, Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd Ward) raised the issue that, under current law, the city of Evanston’s health department cannot call exterminators to local condominiums and other commercial real estate properties.

“If you live in a single family home, the city will inspect your property and then pay for the exterminator to come out and exterminate the whole neighborhood,” Wynne said Thursday. “However, if you live in one of these condos—and these are people who have lived there for 15 or 20 years—our ordinance does not permit the city to do the same thing in that neighborhood, which is to say, ‘we’re going to attack this problem in a comprehensive way’.”

Constituent reports of rat sightings are up this year, say both Wynne and Ald. Donald Wilson (4th Ward). While neither expressed certainty as to the cause of this increase, both mentioned that the mild winter could have something to do with it.

Wynne called rat infestations a public health issue, noting that the rodents have been known to carry disease. She said that infestations must be addressed on larger scale and in a unified manner, otherwise the rat problems will shift rather than cease.

“Frankly, rats are just too smart,” Wynne said. “They will just move from one building to the next.”

Wynne, whose lakefront ward contains numerous condo buildings, said that she was still determining how to best address the issue in an amended ordinance. An effective solution would have to determine how multiple condominium boards, meeting on different schedules, would quickly coordinate when rat problems arose, she said.

But the city can’t solve the problem on its own.

Wilson and Wynne both called upon the public to help the health officials prevent infestations. They cited open trash containers, garbage outside of bins, bird feeders, furniture left in alleys, open compost piles and dog feces as potential culprits.

Residents should call 311 or send an online notification to report rat sightings and schedule inspections. In order for the city to inspect and treat a property, the owner must sign a “rodenticide release of liability form”.

lucas July 02, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Seems this problem came up previously. Most days you can drive down any Alley in Evanston that has multi family buildings. Most of these building DON'T have enough containers for the garbage. It was ignored then and will probably be ignored again. They like to hear them chat.
Lee July 02, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I was just walking downtown and saw a rat just chillin in between those water fountains. Surprised the heck out of me!!! I know it's hot but "Man"!!!
Jennifer Fisher (Editor) July 02, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Lee, thanks for sharing your rat sighting. Anyone else seen one of these rodents out and about? Where have you spotted them?
Tea July 02, 2012 at 03:16 PM
The rats are directing traffic in the vicinity of Howard and Ridge. Early afternoon and this creature was crossing the street from the Evanston side of to the Chicago side. I almost screamed and I was in a car! LOL!
Jim July 02, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I have talked to some rats and they say they have a problem with Evanston!
Jennifer Fisher (Editor) July 02, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Tell us more, Jim. What don't the rats like? :)
klo July 02, 2012 at 04:11 PM
okay rats abound in the 900 block of Forest in the alley between forest and Michigan. I saw numerous rats during the DAY light hours and also at dusk just nonchalantly walking thru our back gated yard... one must have been 6 inches. This has occured for the past month at least. WONDERFUL city health inspector came out and set some traps(in alley) found thei home by a rental set of dumpsters (the only rental complex on block ) and hoping to see them GONE. That rat Or relative is STILL prancing around even with RAT warning signs and rat boxes.
DRY July 02, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Our building is one of the Condos in Ms Wynn's ward that complained of the law being inequitable for condos and multi unit dwellings and of rats being a public health issue. Children who see them may think they are cute little pets could be bitten trying to catch or play with them...Our building, where we are seeing multiple rats many times a day, is directly across the street from Lincoln School and perhaps not so coincidentally, we started seeing the rats when the School construction started. I can only imagine the horror the families of students of that school will feel as they return to a rat infested School and playground in September. As far as working out how separate condo boards would coordinate anything, I do not believe that is required. It seems that a simple solution is to have the City respond to all properties and public areas where rats are seen and remove the requirement of the release form. The City requires access to condos and apartments for Fire Departments, this is just another health emergency that the City needs access to address. If the lilability form is an absolute MUST and is the only obstacle, the City can clearly state that only buildings that have completed the release form will have their private property treated and they can still treat the public areas and the properties compliant with the release form and policy. As word spreads among neighbors or as the rats move next door, the neighbors will likely fill out the requisute forms..
lucas July 02, 2012 at 06:16 PM
The residents have to stop feeding them. Last year one afternoon I was walking my dog. We came upon a rat sitting in front of one of the buildings close to main on Sherman. Everyone needs to email alderman a picture when they see them.
Jim July 02, 2012 at 07:38 PM
The rats know that Evanston is a bureaucratic city and responds very slowly to residents information and requests. After all, the citizens don't know anything. So the rats can do pretty much whatever they want and continue to breed until winter when they will have to go back underground. What about building codes and landlord codes and public safety codes? Please, stop the baloney and solve the problem. Next the city will be citing PETA protecting the cute little rodents.
Lisa July 02, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I pick up my Mom from work at 909 Davis Street and several times while im waitng for her I will see Rats running in & out of the Flowers planted along the driveway between the Merta Station & EL.
lucas July 02, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Wonder if bar city is opening will have them
Tea July 03, 2012 at 02:43 AM
In all seriousness, I'm appalled that the City of Evanston has stupid laws with regard to condo's and rat control. I live in a condo and never knew the policy of dealing with a rodent infestation. In fact, I wasn't aware that our town was so over-run with these critters. I mean, rats running amok in downtown Evanston? WOW! Now I'm really on edge because those little chipmunks are always in my garage which is located off of the alley, and now I'm concerned about rats getting in and setting up shop.
jim July 03, 2012 at 10:13 PM
I guess my 15% in crease in property taxes to the City doesn't cover Rodent Problems
lucas July 09, 2012 at 01:25 PM
nice Rats strolling down Sherman this morning at Washington. He totally ignored my dog and I. Was sniffing for something to nibble on.

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