Saturday, May 6, 2017

(final update) What happened at the Council meeting of May 2nd: The home-sharing debate rages, Jackson Law on landfill bill passes.

At 5 hours and 47 minutes  long, this has got to be one of the longest Council meetings on record. The most time is devoted to the home sharing bills on public hearing.  I watched most of this meeting in double speed and just skipped parts of it so I may have missed something, so feel free to watch it for yourself if you are a glutton for punishment. If you are going to watch the meeting, you really need a copy of the agenda and the staff analysis are you want really understand what is under discussion. To access those documents as well as my commentary on the agenda follow this link.

Following the prayer and pledge there are a couple presentations, one to recognize stroke awareness month and the other to recognize "Show your love for teachers" week. Following those is the confirmations of mayoral appointees to boards and commissions and all are approved without dissension as is the norm. The Public Hearings gets started at time stamp 19:49.  Those concerning home-sharing, also known as Short Tern Rental Properties (STRP) are moved to the heal of the public hearing agenda. None of those bill on Pubic Hearing except those concerning home-sharing are of particular interest.

Public Hearing on Home-sharing (STRP)
This segment starts at timestamp 51:54 in the video and does not end until 4:27:58. This is single public hearing on three pieces of legislation all addressing the same topic. There were six bills on this topic but three are withdrawn. These are the bills on the agenda that are subject of this public hearing;
  • 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.  This one is withdrawn by the sponsor.
  • 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. This bills is withdrawn by the sponsor.
  • 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. This bills is disapproved by the Planning Commission. 
  • BILL NO. BL2017-653  this is a bill of minor importance which would add to the list of acceptable documents those documents that a owner may submit with their application for STRP that shows they do in fact occupy the property.  I support this bill. 
  • 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. This bill is withdrawn by the sponsors.
Arguments against home-sharing are that there should be no commercial activity in residential neighborhoods and opponents consider home-sharing as commercial activity, renting housing for short term rental takes a house off the market that could be rental housing and thus drives up the cost of rental properties, and that short term rentals are party houses with drunken parties, lewd offensive behavior, noise, creating parking problems and that they generally distract from the quality of the neighborhood. The "antis" or those in favor of the proposed changes go first. Former Councilman and community activist John Summer is the first anti speaker.The "anti" home-sharing segment of the public hearing ends at timestamp 2:29:35.This is followed by those who favor home-sharing who oppose the pending bills.

Proponents of home-sharing, who oppose the proposed changes, are mostly those who are home-sharing host. They argue that they maintain the homes, that they have had no problems, that they communicate with their neighbors and address any problems and do not tolerate disruptive guest, that home-sharing helps make visitation to Nashville possible for those who cannot afford an expensive hotel, that the income they get from hosting home-sharing is essential to their ability to live where they do, and that short-term rental provides an economic advantage to Nashville. Some argue that it is essentially a property right issue and that if short-term rental is a business so is long-term rentals. Others argue that they invested in their property based on what the rules were at the time and it is simply not fair to change the rules. They argue that short-term rentals are better maintained than many long-term rentals. One mother holding her baby argues that being a short-term rental host allows her to be a stay at home mom. One argues that banning home-sharing will simply drive it underground and that banning has not worked in other cities. One person offers the stats that show that codes complaints and police complaints regarding short-term rental are actually minuscule. The public hearing ends at timestamp 4:55:17.

Bill 653 which is basically a housekeeping bill passes. Bill 608 is deferred one meeting. Bill 611 is approved on a voice vote.  This bill will, however,  have to have 27 votes to pass third reading. To read The Tennessean's account of the public hearing follow this link. To read other blog post that address the issue of short term rental property, follow this link.

BILL NO. BL2016-484, The Jackson Law.
Following the public hearing on short term rentals, BILL NO. BL2016-484, the Jackson Law bill, on Third Reading is taken out of order. This bill 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 last council meeting by a vote of 28 to 8 with 3 abstentions.and was re-referred to Public Works Committee. Council members have had lots of meetings on this issue. The bill is amendable on Third Reading. To see the  discussion that occurred when the bill was on on Second Reading follow this link and see timestamp 47:30 - 1:17:52.  For those who want to know more about the issue , you can watch the Council work study session on the Jackson law at this link. To see Council discussion see timestamp 4:59:12 to 5:20:13.  The bill passes with a vote of 31 to 5.


Other Council Action
All bills on First Reading pass as a single vote, as is the norm.  None of the resolutions generate debate. Here are the resolutions I found significant:
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 I thought some council members might take to the floor to discuss and explain the recent property reappraisals and maybe pander a little and get some TV face time. They did not. With the hour being so late, any grandstanding would likely have been resented, and that may be why no one spoke on these resolutions. These pass on consent.
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.  Bill 667 passes on consent. Councilman Hastings, the sponsor, defers Bill 667.
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. The sponsor deferred the resolution one meeting.
The only bill on Second Reading, that I find of interest is BILL NO. BL2017-687 which establishes a process and procedure for naming public buildings, structures and spaces of the Metropolitan Government.  This is deferred two meetings.

The only bill on Third Reading that I find of interest other than the Jackson Bill, previously considered, is  BILL NO. BL2016-498  which 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. This is deferred two meetings.

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