Thursday, February 5, 2015

What happened at the Council Meeting on Feb.2: The regulations-of-vacation-rentals, the kill-the-AMP, and the Give-up-on-funding-the-NRC meeting.

Below is the video of last nights meeting. The big news of the meeting is that the proposed $100,000 grant to the liberal political organization Nashville Resource Center is withdraw and the bill to restrict the hours of operation of payday lenders fails.

To see the staff analysis, agenda and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link.


This meeting is conducted by president pro tempore Lonnell Matthews, Jr. who conducts the meetings in the absence of the Vice Mayor.

The first order of business is a couple ceremonial things. A retiring metro employee, Lawrence Jackson is honored and Councilman Karen Bennett does a recognition of World Spay Day, which urges spaying and neutering of cats and dogs.

Three appointments or reappointments to boards and commissions are approved.

 BILL NO. BL2015-1009 is taken out of order and is the first piece of legislation discussed. This is the bill that would prohibit payday lenders from staying open all night. It failed in committee and fails on the floor. Councilman Claiborne takes to the floor and argues against the bill saying, "It reaches too far, telling a business when and when they cannot be open." He says some people need the extended hours of this business. "It targets one business," he says. "To try to tell one business, 'You can't do this because nobody else is doing it' doesn't make sense to me. It's a reach too far for us as council to tell a business, 'We're going to legislate you in terms of the hours you can operate.' "

Councilman Holleman, the sponsor, does not argue in favor of the bill. There is a machine vote and only Holleman and Councilman Fabian Bedne vote for the bill.  Council members Jerry Maynard and Brady Banks abstained from voting. The vote is 32 to 2 with two abstentions. To see the floor actions see time stamp 15:42 - 25:10.

Bills on Public Hearing:

  • BILL NO. BL2015-1002  in Councilman Potts' district rezones 361 acres from R10 zoning which allows duplexes to RS10 which is single family. This can be controversial due to it being a "taking" to down zone someone's property if they do not want their property down-zoned. Also, as Nashville grows, as we make more property single-family only instead of allowing duplexes we contribute to urban sprawl. Also, successful mass transit needs greater population density not less. No one appears in opposition and it passes second reading.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1004  in Councilman Bedne's district is the same as above for 155 acres and it is deferred two meetings.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1006  is a long public hearing and has a lot of people speaking in favor and in opposition. It is a rezoning on of 17 acres on the northwest corner of the Church Street East and Cloverland Drive intersection. It passes on a voice vote. I don't even attempt to understand all of the issues involved in a particular rezoning and rezoning usually concern only people in the neighborhood. It is unusual that Council members speak on a rezoning bill other than the district councilmen, but a couple councilmen do speak against this bill. If you are interested in this bill and want to see the deliberation, see time stamp 42:42 -1:26:23.

Resolutions still on the Consent Agenda pass.

Resolutions not on Consent:
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1316 which would approve $100,000 to the Neighborhood Resource Center is withdrawn. The NRC is essentially a political organization teaching political activism with leaders of the organization trained in the Saul Alinsky tradition. From time to time the NRC promotes a leftist agenda such as they did in 2011 when they hosted a  Contract for the American Dream workshop. You can learn more about this leftist project here. I am pleased to see this resolution withdrawn.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1371 which de-authorizing the previous funding authorized for planning for the AMP passes. This finally kills the AMP. To see Councilman Tygard's explanation and to understand where this money is reallocated, see the discussion at time stamp 1:35:36- 1:39:13.
One bill is pulled off of First Reading by the sponsor and all other pass without discussion as is the norm.

Bills on Second Reading:
  • SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2014-909 and BILL NO. BL2014-951 which regulate peer-to-peer vacation rentals such as AIRBnB pass on a voice vote. There are over a thousand of these vacation rentals operating in Nashville with little problem. Since they do not fit the definition of what is prohibited in a residential area (they are not a bed and breakfast, they are not a boarding house, they are not a hotel) they have been allowed to operate unregulated. This defines what they are, says what they can do, regulates parking and advertising, establishes some fire safety requirements and makes them collect taxes and establishes insurance requirements. These regulations are not onerous and I am pleased Nashville is accommodating this new type service rather than trying to ban it. There is some concern about the bill in that the state fire marshal may come back with a sprinkler requirement for the larger facilities of this type and some council members feel that should be resolved before the bills is passed. To see the discussion of the bills see time stamp 1:45:18 -1:57:56.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1008 which would regulate how one could keep a dog chained in their yard passes on a voice vote with no discussion.
On Third Reading:
  • BILL NO. BL2014-896   which rezones 238 acres in east Nashville to allow accessory dwelling units on properties in the rezoned area passes on a machine vote of 29 for and 6 opposed. I think rezoning like this is a positive development. Accessory dwelling units on a lot can provide more affordable units of housing and increase density which is necessary to have successful mass transit and greater density combats urban sprawl.

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