URBANA – Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing tonight will propose a series of neighborhood meetings to discuss creating an ordinance to improve public safety in or near larger apartment buildings.
An ad hoc task force might also be appointed to help draw up the ordinance.
The Urbana City Council meets as the committee of the whole at 7 p.m. today at the City Building, 400 S. Vine St., U.
Prussing said crime is a concern throughout Urbana, and a recent neighborhood meeting in southeast Urbana drew more than 250 residents.
"We have people really concerned about this throughout the city and we're trying to deal with it," she said. "We're trying to get a discussion going."
Prussing she attended an Illinois Municipal League conference recently and heard a presentation from a Schaumburg official about how an ordinance getting tough with both landlords and tenants helped reduce a crime problem in that northwest Chicago suburb.
The Schaumburg ordinance required an eight-hour training program for landlords in reducing crime. The ordinance also licensed landlords and required that leases include provisions allowing tenants to be evicted if they, or their guests, are linked to local crimes.
Prussing said the task force, suggested by Ward 7 Alderwoman Lynne Barnes, would prepare the specific language in such an ordinance.
The meetings would be held in neighborhoods to encourage attendance and to listen to area-specific problems, she said. Meeting places and dates have not yet been scheduled.
"I think we need as much public input as we can get," she said.
A memo submitted by Barnes said she has received e-mails from southeast Urbana constituents for whom crime is a real problem.
One constituent wrote Barnes that she signed a two-year lease at a southeast Urbana apartment complex and now feels "trapped," and is unable to find someone to take over the second year of the lease, because of theft, high tenant turnover and a pest-control problem.
"Word has gotten around and decent people do not wish to live here, including us," the tenant, whose name was not disclosed, wrote to Barnes.
Another resident wrote Barnes that "the area from about the 1000 block of Colorado (Avenue), extending past Philo Road and behind the Osco store is ruining this area," comparing the area behind the drugstore to "Kosovo or Beirut."