Wednesday, January 4, 2017

In the Council meeting of 1\4\2017, Airbnb comes under attack, dog bill dies, Father Breen honored, Metro nursing home management addressed.

At four hours and 14 minutes this is a long council meeting. I watched much of it in double speed and skipped over some of the boring public hearings. If, you want to be sure I didn't miss something important, you may want to watch the meeting for yourself. If you are going to watch it, you really need a copy of the agenda and the staff analyis, To access those documents as well as my commentary on the agenda, follow this link. Over two hours of the meeting is devoted to the public hearing on Short Term Rental Property regulations.



This council meeting is moderated by Councilman Bill Pridemore, President pro Tempore of the Council filling in for the ailing Vice Mayor David Briley. The invocation is offered by Father Joseph Patrick Breen, the retired former pastor of St. Edwards.  Unfortunately, his mic is not turned on and you cannot hear his prayer. Following the prayer and pledge, their is a ceremony recognizing Father Breen. Father Breen was a beloved pastor St. Edwards Church for many years. During the decade of the eighties when I represented Woodbine in the council I had some dealings with Father Breen and I attended a couple funeral at St. Edwards presided over by Father Breen. I also had some constituents who were parishioners of St. Edwards.  Father Breen was well respected by his church and the community. For the presentation honoring Father Breen see timestamp 3:15 -9:9.

Appointments to boards and commission are confirmed without surprises or any dissenting votes. The proposed changes to rules and procedures for the Council are explained and approved with only a little discussion and pass on a voice vote. There are five resolutions on pubic hearing, all for exemptions from the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit. One is deferred, the others pass and none are controversial.

Bills on Public hearing are mostly zoning matters that would affect no one except nearby neighbors. Public hearing on zoning matters are boring unless the development is next door to you. I don't even attempt to form an opinion on each rezoning bill. Below are the Bills on Public Hearing of interest.

BILL NO. BL2016-394  is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission that rezones several properties on Whites Creek Pike from RS40 to CL zoning.  The only reason I am calling attention to this bill is because it is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. At the request of the sponsor, it is deferred indefinitely.

BILL NO. BL2016-491  requires that building fa├žades fronting a street shall provide a minimum of one principal entrance (doorway) and a minimum of 25% glazing. Glazing means glass work. That seems awfully restrictive. Some owners building their dream house may not want a front door or that many windows. I emailed the sponsor asking her for an explanation of why this bill was necessary but never did get a reply. The sponsor is absent and the bill is deferred two meetings.

BILL NO. BL2016-492  clarifies and modifies Short-term rental (STRP) rules.  In
October of 2016, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that Metro's existing Short Term Remtal Property rules were unconstitutionally vague. This bill attempts to correct that defect and defines terms. It really doesn't do anything new. It clarifies and it incorporates recent changes passed by the Council to the STRP regulations.

The bill identifies three different type of STRP: Type 1, owner-occupied; Type 2,  not owner-occupied; and Type 3, not owner-occupied multifamily. The bill sets limitation on the number of the different types allowed per census tract and it sets occupancy limits. It sits the minimum and maximum length of stay for an STRP.  Why if someone wanted to rent a STRP for more than thirty days, they are not permitted to do so, I don't know. This bill requires that the owners contact information be posted within the property and the owner be available 24/7 to answer calls from renters. It spells out how complaints are handled and says that if a permit is revoked a new permit cannot be issued for that property for one year. It established a fine of $50 a day for operating a STRP without a permit. It also does a lot of other things.

The rules appears overly restrictive and I do not like this bill and would like to see less regulation. Much of what people complain about such as noise and parking is already covered by other code previsions. Also, has some of the thousands of planned hotels and motels rooms get build, I suspect the demand for Airbnb lodging to level off.

Since any change to this bill is likely to impose more regulations rather than less, if I were in the Council I would vote for this. Sometimes as legislator one is faced with the choice of voting for something he does not like in order to stop something from passing that he would like even less.

On the street on which I live there is a STRP diagonally across the street and another two doors down from me.  I never have had a problem with them. The owner of the properties has came by to visit with me and gave me her phone number and told me to call her I ever have reason to complain. I don't mind seeing the young girls in town for bachelorette parties come and go and families playing touch football in the front yard.  Some people are just not happy if other people are having fun.

There are a lot of people in the audience in favor and a whole lot more in opposition. Those in support are mostly short-term rental hosts saying they support for the revised ordinance.Those in opposition think the bill does not go far enough. Some argue that STRP drive up local rental rates by taking what would be rental units off the market. Others complain of living next door to these units where people make excessive noise and party all night. One speaker talks of orgies taking place.  I would have to see that to believe it, but that is what is being said. Many of the speakers want type three STRP amended out of the bill and prohibited. Some want type two and three taken out and a few want all STRP banned. A lot of the opposition is organized. Among those in opposition are neighborhood activist John Summers and John Stern. Councilman sledge makes arguments against the bill as do Councilman Weiner, Elrod and Glover. Glover makes a motion to defer two meetings and it passes. I expect amendment to be offered to prohibit type two and type three STRP. To see the discussion see timestamp 38:14- 2:50:52. To see media coverage of this issue follow these links: WSMV,  Nashville Airbnb fans, foes collide at Metro Council ...  and The Tennessean, Nashville Airbnb fans, foes collide at Metro Council.

SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2016-493  addresses sidewalks. It tightens up the requirements that developers build sidewalks. Under this bill, under certain circumstances a developer of a duplex would have to build a sidewalk in front of the house even it there was no other sidewalks on the street. It makes it more difficult for a developer to pay an "in-lieu" fee instead of building sidewalk. This public hearing is deferred to the first meeting in February.

None of the resolutions are of much interest and they all pass or are deferred.  Bills on First Reading are lumped together and pass by a single vote as is the norm.

Bills on Second Reading
BILL NO. BL2016-461  require employees of Metro to report fraud and unlawful acts committed against the Metropolitan Government to the Metropolitan Auditor. It is deferred one meeting.
BILL NO. BL2016-484 would make it more difficult to locate landfills, solid waste disposal facilities and solid waste processing facilities in Davidson County. It adopts a state standard for approval that is already established as an option for local governments. Included in what this would do is it would require Council approval of "the plans" for such facilities not just the location of the facility and it would require approval by ordinance, not just a resolution, and it would establish criteria for evaluation. It is deferred two meetings.
BILL NO. BL2016-496 would prohibit vehicles from parking in electric charging station spaces. This was on Second Reading last meeting also and deferred to this meeting. It is again deferred, deferred two meetings.
BILL NO. BL2016-527  is a bill that would require outdoor pen enclosures for dogs be larger than what the current law requires. This bill would require the pen be at least 900 square feet no matter how small the dog. This is deferred indefinitely.  To read the Tennessean report on this issue see, "Nashville proposal to overhaul dog pen, fence rules to be scrapped."
BILL NO. BL2016-529  would approve the removal of  certain buildings and structures on the Fairgrounds. This is part of a Fairgrounds improvement plan in which some existing building are to be torn down, but not the racetrack. These building are to be replaced. The Charter requires Council approval to tear down any building at the Fairgrounds. This bill is not a plan to destroy the Fairgrounds but part of a plan to improve the facility. It is approved by voice vote.
BILL NO. BL2016-540  cancels the lease agreement with the management company than manages the Autumn Hills nursing home, formerly a Metro operated facility that is in the process of being fully privatized. It would also rescind the Council’s approval of the Purchase and Sale Agreement between Metro and the Vision Real Estate Investment Corporation for the sale of the 76 acre property, I think. That is what the staff analysis said, but comments from the floor throw that in doubt. This is a complex issue.  For those who want a deeper understanding of the issue, you may want to watch the Budget and Finance Committee where this was discussed in more depth. This facility is the Knowles Home Assisted Living and Adult Day Services facility. I have not watched the committee discussion of this bill and do not know if I would think this is a necessary action or not. I just hope this does not put Metro on a path to taking over a facility permanently. I would hope we would completely privatize this facility and get the city out of the nursing home business. For more on the issue follow this report from News Channel 5: Council Begins Process To Get New Autumn Hills Management and Nashville seeks new operator for troubled Autumn Hills facility. The bill passes on a voice vote. To see the discussion see timestamp 3:47:00 - 4:05:32.
Bills on Third Reading. There is not much of interest and no controversial bills.
BILL NO. BL2016-494 reestablishes the Metro Property Tax Relief Program assistance to low-income elderly residents of the county.  There is a State Property Tax Relief  Program and this bill increases the amount of that relief by matching what the State provides. Follow the link for more information. If you or someone you know are elderly and low income, look into this.  Due to escalating property values, many elderly low-income residents would be forced out of their home if not for this tax relief program. This passes on a voice vote.

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