Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Council Agenda of 10/18/19: "Fixing" AirBnB, bribing Bridgestone, standards of conduct for tenants of Barns Funds housing, and the Gulch Pedestrian Bridge.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, October 18th  at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel. If you will wait, I will watch it for you and post the video and point out the good parts so you can go to that point in the video and watch just those segments. Also, I will  tell you what I think about what happened.  Council meetings are really boring and I watch them so you don't have to.

If you are going to watch a council meeting, you really need the agenda and  the Council staff analysis or you won't have a clue about what is going on. Follow the highlighted link to view the agenda.  Here is my commentary and analysis of the agenda.

There are five people up for confirmation to Boards and Commissions. These are people appointed by the mayor subject to approval by the Council. They will be approved as always.

There is one insignificant bill and no resolutions on Public Hearing.

There are 14 resolutions on the consent agenda. Resolutions on "consent" are passed by a single vote of the council instead of being voted on individually. If a resolution has any negative votes in committee it is taken off of consent.  Also any council member may ask to have an item taken off of consent or to have his abstention or dissenting vote recorded.  None of  the resolutions appear controversial or of much interest. These are the resolutions of interest. 

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-399 amends the economic and community development incentive grant made to the Industrial Development Board  for the benefit of Bridgestone.  It would reward Bridestone for moving some of its operations from other places to Nashville. It would pay Bridgestone $500 each year for seven years for each new position created in Nashville. Based on the new estimate of 1,015 new positions, this would result in annual payments to Bridgestone of $507,500 for this seven year period. While I do not like this form of corporate welfare, I would not vote against this if I had a vote.  Unfortunately, this is the way business is done, and if we don't reward Bridgestone for locating to Nashville, someone else will entice them to move to their city.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-406  would expand from one year old to three years old the vehicles that are exempt from being required to be tested for auto emissions. This makes sense. Vehicles not over three years old almost never fail the emissions test.


RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-408  request the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department to track misdemeanor citations and civil citations for marijuana possession by race, gender and age. When the Council passed a measure significantly decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. the law was amended to say the police "may" issue the less severe civil citation instead of charging the offender with the State crime of possession, leaving it up to the discretion of the arresting officer. I did not like that amendment. I fear that well-behaved respectful white kids will get the citation and Black kids hanging out on the street corner are most likely to get the criminal charge. Too much discretion is not "rule of law." While this does not do away with that discretion, how that discretion is applied will be monitored. This is a good bill.
Bills on First Reading. There are 7 bills on First Reading but I usually don't review bills on First Reading. First reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda. They are not evaluated by committee until they are on Second Reading. All bills on First Reading are lumped together and usually pass by a single vote. Only rarely is a bill on First Reading considered separately.

Bills on Second Reading.
These are 12 bills on Second reading and these are the one's of interest.
BILL NO. BL2016-375 is one of the bills to curtail Short Term Rentals such as those rented on AirBnB.   Currently the maximum number of occupants permitted on a STRP property at any one time shall not exceed  twice the number of sleeping rooms plus four. This would restrict the number of occupants to no more than twice the number of sleeping rooms. I oppose this bill. Those who already have permits would be grandfathered in under the current rule.
SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2016-381 is another anti Short Term Rental Property bill. It would make it more cumbersome to get a STRP permit and further restrict the number of permits allowed in any census track. I oppose this bill. 
SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2016-382  is still yet another anti Short Term Rental Property bill. This one would addresses some of what is addressed in the bill above restricting the number of permits that may be issued in any one census tract. This is to be deferred indefinitely.
BILL NO. BL2016-417  would prohibit one from putting a "for sale" on their vehicle parked on residential property. This was also on second reading last council meeting and deferred to this meeting.  I wonder how often this occurs and if this is really a problem.
BILL NO. BL2016-433 is a telecommunications franchise requests from a company wanting to provide fiber optic cable. This is not Google. I am not sure that this is important, but it is worth calling attention to.  Metro is getting a lot of request for these type franchises.  Several committees of the Council will hold a joint meeting on Monday for a comprehensive review of this ordinance, some other proposed bills similar in nature that are on the agenda and related issues.
Bills on Third Reading.  There are 30 bills on Third Reading. Most of them are zoning bills. These are the bills of interest.

BILL NO. BL2016-308  requires tenants of housing funded by the Barnes Trust Fund to comply with certain maintenance and standards of conduct and to refrain from any illegal activity on the premises of the dwelling being rented. This was on Second Reading last Council meeting. Surprising me, it proved controversial. At last Council meeting several council members spoke against it, mostly the African-American members of the Council.  It was amended to say landlords "may" instead of "shall" enforce standards of conduct. This still did not satisfy some members of the Council. It passes on a voice vote with some audible "no's." To see the second reading discussion follow this link and view the video and see timestamp 2:27:02- 2:43:11.
BILL NO. BL2016-379  would change the definition of a financial institution.  Currently a metro ordinance defines a financial institution and part of that definition is that it is open to the public within hours that do not exceed 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.  This bill change that definition by removing the restriction on operating hours and replaces it with a definition that says they must be “a state or federally chartered bank, savings and loan association, or credit union, a mortgage company, or other financial institution whose services are insured by an agency of the United States government.” That is an improvement.  Under the current law a bank could not stay open till 3PM on Saturday or till 7PM on a Friday. The reason the city has a need to define them is to differentiate between respectable establishments like banks and places such as pay day lenders and check cashing services, so the city may restrict the deplorables and not the respectables.   In my view the city should not try to distinguish and instead let the market decide the mix and what and how many are needed. Last meeting, this was on Public Hearing and no one on the bill and it passed so I expect it to pass without discussion.
BILL NO. BL2016-416  by Councilmen Mendes and Cooper would require that any Metro department or agency that must submit regular reports to the Metro Council should post those reports on their website and keep them posted for up to six months. There are 14 reports that must regularly be submitted to Council.  This should be easy and cost nothing to accomplish.  I support this move to make government more transparent and accessible to the public.
BILL NO. BL2016-419  would require Council members to receive diversity training.  This is more useless unnecessary political correctness.
BILL NO. BL2016-421  is a part of the effort to build the pedestrian bridge across the
gulch. This bill would acquire the parcel of land known as the Clement Land Port and
sell it to Cummings Station and it would permit metro to acquire a piece of land owned by Cummings Station. This parcel would be the eastern end of the bridge.  The gulch pedestrian bridge is already approved and funded.  A couple of years ago this project was stopped by Council when council refused to approve a land acquisition ordinance necessary to facilitate the construction of the bridge. At that time the Council rebelled against the deal in frustration that so much money was being spend downtown and neighborhoods were being ignored. The project was funded then and is still funded.
I support the pedestrian bridge.  Certainly we could build a more utilitarian bridge for less or not build the bridge at all, but I believe this will be an important connection to tie the gulch to downtown.  Also, I support the bridge as a beautification and an arts project.  It will be one more thing to make Nashville a place tourist want to visit and a city where people want to live. Cities should not be just utilitarian but pleasant places to live and visit.  
The argument against if is that neighborhood streets need sidewalks and $16 million dollars would build a lot of sidewalks. This development is being funded from General Obligation Bonds. This should pass without a problem.

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