Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What happened at the Council meeting of 11-15-16: Annexation approved, Museum of African American Music is hot topic, new Short Term rental regs, Warner Music Group bribed.

Council meeting are more meaningful if you know what they are voting on.  For a copy of the agenda, the council staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link.

At the start of the meeting, following the prayer and the pledge,  there is a presentation honoring the Black newspaper Tennessee Tribune. The editor of the Tennessee Tribune takes the opportunity to criticize the location of the Museum of African American Music, saying it should be on Jefferson St or if not on Jefferson St.then next to the new Tennessee State Museum on Rosa Parks  and saying if it is going to be where it slated to be built, the entrance should not be on a side street and if they can't get something that shows proper respect then they shouldn't build it at all and let it go to some other city.

Following that presentation is another presentation honoring the Americana Music Association. A couple of the people on hand to receive the resolution was artist Jim Lauderdale and Rodney Crowell. Following that presentation is the approval of appointments to boards and Commissions and as always, they are all approved however, there were two abstentions in the approval of one of the nominees.  I don't know why they abstained but Councilman Sledge and Councilman Sheri Weiner abstained on the appointment of Cullen Earnest to the Sexually Oriented Business Licensing Board.

There are 30 resolutions on agenda. The consideration of resolutions does not get underway until time stamp 29:11 in the video. Most are lumped together and pass by a single vote on the Consent Agenda. Here are the ones of interest.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-406  expands from one year old to three years old, the vehicles that are exempt from being required to be tested for auto emissions. This was deferred the last two meeting and is again deferred one meeting.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-434  is another one of those bills that pay companies for coming to or expanding in Nashville. This one is for Warner Music Group. It will provide $500 per year for seven year for new employees hired by WMG. The total cost to the city could be $2 million. This passed on the consent agenda. To learn more about this issue, follow this link and also see the staff analysis.
 RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-435  is a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) deal for an affordable housing project on Old Hickory Boulevard. In the past PILOT was used by the Industrial Development Board to lure companies to Nashville in order to create jobs. Now MDHA is authorized to use this tool also. So, if I understand it correctly, the land would be owned by MDHA and since MDHA does not pay taxes, the developer of the property would pay this payment in lieu of taxes. The PILOT however would be only about 1/10th of what the developed property would otherwise pay in property taxes. This is for an affordable housing project for those earning less than 60% of the Area Median Income. To make this deal work the developer will also be using the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. This is deferred one meeting.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-459  ask the Police Department to inform the Metropolitan Council whether they agree or disagree with research findings in a recent report from Gideon’s Army regarding MNPD traffic stop statistics in Nashville and ask them to provide any data to refute the finding of the Gideon's Army report. The Civil rights group Gideon's Army released a report in February called "Driving while Black," that alleged racial profiling by Metro Police. The group clams that from 2011 to 2015, metro officers conducted more than 7 times the amount of traffic stops than the national average, and black drivers were up to 5 times more likely to be stopped. The police say that the reason police stop more Blacks that Whites is that they patrol more heavily in high crime areas, which are Black neighborhoods. For news reports on this topic see this link, and this link. This is deferred one meeting. The reason for the deferral is so a representative of Gideon's Army can meet with the police to review the report together prior to consideration of this resolution.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-460  request the Mayor to get an independent assessment of the location of the National Museum of African American Music at the former Nashville Convention Center. The city gave a multi-million inducement to the developer of the property to build this museum. Early plans showed it with a frontage on Broadway.  The proposed development is multi-use with a much needed downtown retail component. The developer has said that the corner of Fifth and Broad needs to be something that will draw traffic to the retail. He has moved the museum entrance to 5th avenue. Blacks are upset. To read more about this see, Mayor Barry warns against breaking agreement over museum dispute and The deal's done, but critics of $430M downtown project aren't silenced. This bill is deferred one meeting. The sponsor speaks on the bill and compares putting the entrance on Fifth Ave to Blacks sitting in the back of the bus. Councilman Cooper questions the whole deal, asking why we sold the property so cheaply and why there is so little over site. Good questions. The resolution is deferred on meeting.To see the discussion see time stamp 51:40 - 1:09:44.
Bills on first reading are passed by a single vote without discussion as is customary. Below are the bills of interest on Second Reading.
SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2016-381 is a bill that addresses Short Term Rental Property. It makes it more cumbersome to get a STRP permit and further restrict the number of permits allowed in any census track. It passes with no dissenting votes. To see the discussion see time stamp 1:12:15-1:17:08.
Bills on Third Reading:
BILL NO. BL2016-415   creates a mechanism for the zoning and permitting of small cell telecommunications uses and to update existing zoning provisions for other kinds of telecommunications uses. It appears a lot of work went into this bill and is important to facilitate the growth of telecommunications. It passes on a voice vote with no dissenting votes.

BILL NO. BL2016-454   amends  the Metropolitan Code to remove the stipulation that only restaurants that possess a license liquor license can obtain an exemption to the minimum distance requirements for beer sales. Currently if an establishment wants a beer license, they have to be a certain distance from away from a home, or a school, or church or park. Liquor license are issued by the State and beer license by Metro, so some establishments have liquor license but not beer license. For those establishments, the city can now make an exception to the distance requirement.  The city can not, however, grant an exception for any other establishments. This bill allows the city to grant an exemptions to other establishments seeking a beer license. This bill would require a pubic hearing on the proposed exemption. It passes on a voice vote without discussion.
BILL NO. BL2016-455 annexes into the urban serviced district various properties located in Council Districts 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, and 31. While Nashville has a single government instead of a city and a county as do most places, we still have two tax districts.  The more suburban and rural parts of the county are in the General Services District and the more developed parts of the county are in the Urban Services District. The only thing the people in the USD get that those in the GSD do not, is garbage collection and street lights. They have the same street cleaning, fire, police, schools, libraries, parks, etc. The 2016 tax rate for Urban Services District is $4.516, and the rate for General Services District is $3.924 per hundred dollars of assessment. With these areas being annexed, the city becomes responsible for garbage collection and providing street lights. Sidewalks is not factor in annexation, contrary to what some people thought when this bill was on public hearing.

One impact of increasing these taxes is that this will likely increase rents in multifamily apartments in these areas annexed. While renters do not directly pay property taxes, they pay indirectly in the rent they are charged. Residential property is assessed at 25% of appraised value, yet commercial and multi-family property is assessed at 40% of value. At a time when there is much concern about affordable housing, affordable housing advocates should advocate against this tax which will hit renters harder than property owners but they do  not.

Currently, for most people in the annexed areas the increase in taxes will not be much more than they currently pay for private trash collection. However, if taxes are increased next year, which I anticipate to occur, then the new tax payment would most likely be considerably more than what residents in the GSD pay currently for private trash collection. This passes on a voice vote. To see the discussion see time stamp 1:43:44 - 1:51:53.

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