Saturday, April 29, 2017

What's on the Council Agenda for May 2? Major attack on home-sharing (STRP), more control over landfills, not much else.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse.  Council meetings are really boring and I watch them so you don't have to and yet can still be a well-informed citizen of our city.  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.

There are six appointment to Boards and Commissions on the agenda and you can expect all to be approved unanimously.  There are 17 bills on First Reading but bills on First Reading are all lumped together and pass by a single vote except in rare cases. I usually do not read bills until they get to Second Reading.

There are 29 Bills on Public Hearing and most of them are zoning bills.  Public Hearings are real boring unless the property under discussion is next door to you.  Opposition to rezoning usually boils down to (1) impact on the capacity of infrastructure such as roads and schools, (2) potential to cause flooding, or (3) negative impact on the quality and character of the neighborhood.  I don't even try to gain an understanding of every zoning bill or form an opinion of its merits. I try to point out those that have wider implication than one neighborhood or that I have reason to believe will be particularly controversial or has already been to the Planning Commission and been disapproved. About the only bills on public hearing of interest this time are those that are attacks on home-sharing.

BILL NO. BL2017-608, BILL NO. BL2017-609, BILL NO. BL2017-610, and BILL NO. BL2017-611 are all attacks on home-sharing or Short Term Rental Properties such as those rented through AirBnB or similar services.  I oppose all of these bills.  
  • BILL NO. BL2017-608 would be a radical change and would establish distinct land uses for “Short term rental property – Owner- Occupied” and “Short term rental property – Not Owner-Occupied”, and establishing a phase out date in year 2021 for “Short term rental property – Not Owner-Occupied.” If this passes in addition to ending short term rentals of homes not occupied by the owner, in order to offer home-sharing services, one would have to get their property rezoned. 
  • BILL NO. BL2017-609  would establish a 12- month moratorium on the issuance of new Type 2 and Type 3 short term rental permits. These are the non-owner-occupied Short Term Rentals. It would not prohibit those with certificates already from renewing their certificate.  
  • BILL NO. BL2017-610 is similar to 609, but it would impose a 36-month moratorium. The staff analysis says both of these are to be withdraw by the sponsor for further consideration. 
  • BILL NO. BL2017-611 requires that an STRP application include a statement that “the applicant has confirmed that operating the proposed STRP would not violate any Home Owners Association agreement or bylaws, Condominium Agreement, Covenants, Codes and Restrictions or any other agreement governing and limiting the use of the proposed STRP property.” It would also require that the applicant notify codes if there was any such objection.  I oppose this bill.  Homeowners Association rules are private agreements.  Government has never taken on the responsibility for enforcing HOA rules. 
  • BILL NO. BL2017-685 would make several changes to the current home-sharing regs. It would reduce the total number of STRP permits available, put new restrictions on the number of people who could occupy a STRP and impose restrictions and requirement on the "on-line marketplaces." The staff analysis does not address this, but I wonder if Nashville has the authority to compel an on-line marketplace such as AirBnB to provide them with reports.  They are not physically located in Nashville and they don't have to have a local business license. Could we require Amazon to tell us how many books are CD's are sold in Nashville? I don't know the answer but I wonder if this is even doable or legal.

There are 19 resolutions on the consent agenda. Resolutions on "consent" are passed by a single vote of the council instead of being voted on individually. All resolution are initially on "consent," however, 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.  Most of the resolutions are routine things like accepting grants. Here are the resolutions of interest. 

RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-663 is a routine annual action calling the Metro Board of Equalization into session and RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-664 is a resolution appointing hearing officers to hear appeals. These are typical actions, but some council members may take this as an opportunity to talk about the recent property reappraisals. This year, as all property owners probably know by now, Metro reappraised all real property. A lot of people have been shocked by the increased appraised value of their property.  There is a procedure to appeal your appraisal, however to successfully appeal you need a good argument as to why you think the city got it wrong.  Just saying, "I don't think it is worth that," will not get you anywhere. You need recent sales information or reasons why your property values were incorrectly calculated. If you want to see your appraisal on-line as well as see what other properties are appraised for, follow this link. Just because your property appraisal increased that does not mean your property taxes will go up. By law Metro is required to roll back the tax rate to a rate that would bring in no additional revenue.  Sometimes local governments play games with this rule and pass the required "certified" tax rate then immediately pass a new rate that does raise taxes.  To her credit, Megan Barry has said she will not raise taxes this year. To see what your new tax bill will be under the new appraisal and new certified tax rate, you can calculate it at this linkThe deadline to appeal your appraisal is May 19th.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-666  and RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-667 are payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) deals between MDHA and developers to develop or rehabilitate affordable housing.  This is the third and fourth such deal for this purpose.  In the past, PILOT was used to entice employers to locate in Nashville. While I have been critical of Nashville's efforts to force developers to build affordable housing, I am supportive of the use of  PILOT agreements to encourage development.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-677 approves the execution and delivery of intergovernmental applications by Metro to the United States Department of Labor for the processing of H1-B petitions.  I have read the bill and the analysis but quite frankly do not understand this resolution but think it may be significant. Currently the Trump administration has suspended for six months the processing of H1-B visa applications. I did not know the Metro Government employs non-citizens but according to this, we do.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-678  request the Metropolitan Transit Authority to provide at least ten percent (10%) of its advertising space to other Metropolitan departments, boards and commissions to provide public service advertisements regarding local government services. I do not see the wisdom of this.  This would be a loss of revenue for MTA. However, this is probably not worth opposing unless MTA lobbies against its passage. It also ask MTA to respond as to the feasibility of this request so if MTA thinks this would not be wise, they do not have to do it, but can explain their opposition in a feasibility study.

Bills on Second Reading. There are 13 bills on Second Reading but most are routine things. Here is one of interest.
BILL NO. BL2017-687 establishes process and procedure for naming public buildings, structures and spaces of the Metropolitan Government.  I like this.  I think usually you should have to be dead before you get something named after you.  
Bills on Third Reading: These are 15 bills on Third Reading and not much that is of interest. Most are rezoning bill and they have all been approved by the Planning Commission. Here are ones of interest.
BILL NO. BL2016-484 would give Metro more control over the approval of landfills, solid waste disposal facilities and solid waste processing facilities prior to the construction of such facilities and prior to the issuance of a permit by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) or the Commissioner.  This is essentially replacing Metro's current procedure with a State approved plan known as the "Jackson law."  While this bill, on the one hand, gives Metro more control it also in some ways takes away some Metro authority. It increases the notification requirements, requires a bill with three reading rather than approving a landfill by resolution which is only one reading and it does some other good things. On the other hand, Metro would lose some authority in that an unhappy applicant for a landfill could appeal to Chancery Court. On balance, I think this is a good bill, but it is not simply.  The bill  passed on Second Reading by a vote of 28 to 8 with 3 abstentions.and was re-referred to Public Works Committee. It is amendable on Third Reading. To see the  discussion that occurred on Second Reading follow this link and see timestamp 47:30 - 1:17:52
BILL NO. BL2016-498  would require approval by the Metropolitan Council for obstructions or excavations which close or occupy any portion of the public right of way for a period in excess of one  year. I like this. I am all for accommodating growth but if a developer is going to block a street for more than a year, there needs to be some plan to accommodate the public. 
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 the day after or the day after that and provide commentary.

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