Sunday, February 19, 2017

What's on the Council agenda for 2/21/17? Not much really. Very little of controversy.

he Metro Council will meet Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse.  Council meetings are really boring and I watch them so you can be a well-informed citizen of our city and still not have to watch them. If, however, you are going to watch the council meeting, you really need the agenda and  the Council staff analysis, otherwise you will be clueless about what is going on.  Follow the highlighted links above to view the agenda and staff analysis. This ought to be a short meeting.  There is almost nothing of controversy on the agenda.

There are twelve appointment to Boards and Commissions on the agenda and you can expect all to be approved unanimously. There is one resolution on public hearing to grant an exemption to the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit. These are usually routinely approved. There are no bills on public hearing this meeting.

There are 17 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 these appear particularly controversial. Here are the resolutions of interest:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-517  request Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency to revise its official Tax Increment Financing development priorities for the Downtown Core to prioritize green space and public space and deprioritize parking space. I agree with this. Market forces will optimize the correct number of parking spaces and the city also builds public parking garages, the bonds paid for with parking fees.  With parking off Broadway running $20 I seldom drive downtown. I can take Uber to and from Broadway for less than $12. We need more green space instead of more parking downtown.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-555  accepts an Enhancing Savings Outcomes for Financial Counseling Grant from the Cities for Financial Empowerment. This would be a grant to help fund the city's Empowerment Center to specifically teach saving skills and train counselors in how to teach these skills. Ideally this would not be necessary. These would be skills that people learn from their parents and that just come naturally, but so many people live in a world of "I deserve it" and "I want it now," that saving and planning ahead is a foreign concept. I know that behavior can be changed and learning self discipline can change a persons life. I am critical of most anti-poverty programs, but those aimed at teaching people to change their behaviors and values that cause them to be poor, I support.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-566  by Scott Davis expresses support for the Medical Cannabis Access Act currently pending before the Tennessee General Assembly. I strongly support this memorializing resolutions.
There are only five  bills on First Reading.  First Reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda. They are not discussed by committee until after First Reading.  Almost always, bills on First Reading are lumped together and pass by a single vote.  I do usually not examine bills on First Reading.

Bills on Second Reading. There are 14  bills on Second Reading and none of them are of particular interest and I do not expect any of them to be controversial. Some existing programs are extended or tweaked and there are a couple of minor animal protection bills, but nothing that should cause controversy.

Bills on Third Reading: These are the only ones of interest.
BLL 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 Rental 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, as 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.
This was on Public Hearing two meeting ago and there were a lot of people speaking in favor and a whole lot more in opposition. Those in support were mostly short-term rental hosts saying they support the revised ordinance. Those in opposition said 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 was 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 were neighborhood activist John Summers and John Stern. Councilman sledge made arguments against the bill as did Councilman Weiner, Elrod and Glover.  I expected amendments to be offered to prohibit type two and type three STRP but that has not happen.  Those are coming however in separate bills not as amendments to this bill. To see the discussion at the public hearing see timestamp 38:14- 2:50:52 at this link. 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.

Since this does not include the bans or moratorium, I would support this bill. For much more on the issue see these links:
In 2015, short-term rentals boosted Nashville's economy by $477.2 million.
Metro's Airbnb law unconstitutional!
(update) What's on the Council Agenda for Feb. 7th: New AirBnb rules, $16M more for General Hospital, $ to build affordable housing,
Does racism drive Nashville's crackdown on Airbnb's?
Nashville’s Airbnbs get taxed, but swank hotels get the benefits
Why The Anderson's are suing Metro Government
Metro's Airbnb law unconstitutional!
Critics want to ban all new Airbnb rentals
Nashville Metro Council collaborates with hotels to curb Airbnb’s
BILL NO. BL2016-496 would prohibit vehicles from parking in electric charging station spaces.  I have been tempted to park in those spaces myself but have not done so.  I am curious how much revenue the city is losing by having these reserved spaces. I have never seen a car charging at them. I wonder how often they are used. Instead of making it a penalty to park in these spaces, I would think the charging station spaces should be turned back into parking spaces.

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 can stand the suspense and just wait I will post the video here and provide commentary.


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