Saturday, October 7, 2017

What happened at the Oct 3rd, 2017 Council meeting: Home sharing ban fails, Columbus dishonored, ..



This is a long meeting. The most controversial bill is a bill to ban certain classes of short-term rental properties and it is deferred to January 2018/ To view the council agenda, the council staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda follow this link.

Boards and Commissions elections and confirmations
Two mayoral appointments to boards and commission are confirmed without dessent as is the norm.

Eight positions were  filled by Council elections. Two, were to seats on the Health and Educational Facilities Board. This board "is authorized to issue revenue bonds and loan the proceeds to finance the acquisition, construction, development, rehabilitation, and improvement of health, educational, and multifamily housing facilities. The types of eligible projects and borrowers are determined by State statute and include hospitals, universities, non-profit schools, and multifamily housing developers." Seats on boards that can issue bonds and control big chucks of money are highly prized. The candidates are Isaac Addae, Stephan Frohsin, Sarah Hannah, Saletta Holloway, Sean McGuire, Chris Moth, and Blake Wilson. Most people could care less who who serves on these boards and commissions but it is important to the political class. Council members are sometimes heavily lobbied to vote for one candidate or another to fill these positions. Serving on these boards is a valuable service to the city and enhances the prestige of those who serve. While I have heard of some of these people, I really do not know who they are and have no preference. The Council elects Issac Addae and Chris Moth.

Approved by acclamation Council members Mendez  and Cooper are selected to serve on the Audit Committee, Councilman Hager to serve on the Traffic and Parking Commission and Councilman Bedne to serve on the Planning Commission.

Public Hearing
Public Hearings on zoning matters starts at timestamp 24:20 in the video. I do not try to form an opinion on each zoning bill and watch the video at double speed. I may have missed something, so it if you care about zoning issue, you may want to watch the video yourself.  Most of the time the only people who care about zoning issues are those with a stake in getting the rezoning approved and any nearby neighbors who may be opposed. Below are the bills on public hearing that generated significant opposition or for some other reason I find of interest.

BILL BL2017-819 is an approved bill to chance the zoning from ORI to SP to allow a hotel to be build on the southwest corner of Poston Avenue and 29th Avenue North. This is property near Centennial Park. Several people speak against the bill. The major concerns are changing the character of the neighborhood, and traffic. At the request of the sponsor the bill is approved on second reading and third reading is deferred to the fist meeting in November. It passed on a roll call vote of 37 to 3. This hearing starts at about timestamp 24:25 in the video and ends at timestamp 59:43.

BILL BL2017-852 in Councilman Mary Carolyn Roberts district expands an Urban Zoning Overlay District by 1591 acres.  This is a huge expansion. This was previously on the agenda but deferred to this meeting. I thought it might generate controversy because it impacts such a large area but no one speaks on either side and it is approved.

BILL BL2017-885 is a bill approved with conditions, disapproved without by the Planning Commission. It would change from RS10 to SP the zoning on 52 acres in Councilman VanReece's district to allow up to 321 multi-family residential units and a mixed use development. Several people speak against it. It is approved on a voice vote.

BILL BL2017-891 is a bill approved with conditions, disapproved without by the Planning Commission. It would change from RS5 to SP zoning on properties located in Councilman Scott Davis' district to permit up to 158 multi-family residential units. It is approved on a voice vote.
Resolutions
Consideration of resolutions starts at timestamp 1:48:57 in the video. Most are routine and are lumped together and pass by a single vote on the "consent" agenda. A few are deferred one meeting. Below are the ones of interest:
RESOLUTION RS2017-902 authorizes the sale of up to $300 million of water and sewer revenue bonds.  It passes on consent. 
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RESOLUTION RS2017-907 requests the Second Monday in October be recognized as Indigenous People's Day. This is the same day as Columbus Day. If I served in the Council, I would not oppose a resolution calling for a day to honor American Indians on some other day of the year, but I find it offensive to declare it on Columbus day. I would have opposed this resolution.  When reading the agenda, it did not register with me that this day was Columbus day. To me, this resolution smacks of anti-Catholic, anti-Italian and anti-Western civilization bias. I see this as part of the liberal agenda that also advocates tearing down monuments and dishonoring American heritage. The vote on the resolution is YES: 26, NO: 5, ABSTAIN: 7 and  NOT VOTING: 2. To see who voted which way, follow this link. To see the discussion go to timestamp 2:04:05 in the video. No one speaks against the resolution. I wish one of those who voted against it would have spoke against it.
Bills on First Reading are all lumped together and pass by a single vote as is the norm, except for one bill which is substituted. First Reading simply gets bills introduced. They are not reviewed by committee until after First Reading.  

Bills on Second Reading. Below are the ones of interest:
BILL BL2017-870   declares a piece of school property as surplus. The value of this property is $3.4 million. Councilman Grover moves to amend this bill so that the proceeds from the sale be used to pay down metro schools debt. This certainly seems reasonable. Councilman Rosenberg argues against this. Councilman Mendez who is often perceived as a Council liberal but who is often fiscally responsible supports Councilman Grover's amendment.  The vote is 19 to 19 and the Vice Mayor has to break the tie and votes "no," so the amendment fails.This is very disappointing. Our council continues to pile up debt and has no interest in being responsible. The bill passes.
BILL BL2017-905 and BILL BL2017-906 would establish a a merit-based grant program for non-profits. Currently Metro gives lots of money to worthy non-profits but it seems there is no logic to who gets the money and who does not. Some agencies that get metro funds have had council members as their board members. This would establish a criteria for which organizations get grants. Bill 905 passes and since 906 does almost the same thing it is withdrawn. This is a positive development.

BILL BL2017-907  would exempt from the minimum distance requirements for off-sale beer permits those establishments that had on on-sale beer permit following approval of a council resolution. This seems reasonable. It passes.
Bills on Third Reading. Below are the ones of interest.
BILL NO. BL2017-608 is the bill that would phase out Short Term Rentals for all but  owner-occupied properties. This bill also does a lot else. Please see the staff analysis for details. For an explanation of the amendments watch the video.  A committee of the Council has been meeting on this issue for months and this bill was first introduced in February of this year. Several council members argue that an ad hoc committee of the Coucil has been meeting on this for months seeking a comprehensive solution to a perceived problem and that, that committee should be allowed to finish their work before this issue is addressed by the Council. Currently no "type 2" permits, which are permits for non-owner-occupied short-term rentals, are being issues, so deferring the bill will not hurt anything. There is concern that if the Council does something too radical, their action could be nullified by the State legislature. Concern is also expressed that if Type 2 short-term rentals are banned that the city will still be faced with an issue of those who rent their property short-term without having a permit. Enforcement of any ban is an issue. I oppose any ban on short-term rental. Many people have followed the rules and spend a lot of money to make their property available for shot-term rental. It is not fair to pull the rug out from under them. My view is that owners of property should have the same right to rent short-term as they do long-term. On the short street on which I live, there are several short-term rental properties and I have never had a problem with any on them. The short-term rental properties are good neighbors. There is a lot of repetitive arguments made on the bill and parliamentary maneuvering and in the end the bill is deferred until the first meeting in January. To view the lengthy discussion see timestamp 2:27:36 to 3:59:07.

BILL BL2017-719  in Councilman Scott Davis district is a rezoning bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. I have no opinion on the merits of the bill but it is of interest because it is a disapproved bill and takes 27 votes to pass. It fails by a vote of 13 to 20.

SUBSTITUTE BILL BL2017-801 would require a report from the Department of Public Works regarding obstructions or excavations which close or occupy any portion of the public right of way for a period in excess of six (6) months. This substitute makes the bill less strong or imposes less red tape than did the version before substituted. Not a bad bill as it now stands. It passes.

BILL BL2017-867 would strengthen the hand of the government in punishing those with overgrown lots  and BILL BL2017-868  would strengthen the hand of government in punishing those who repeatedly violate property standards laws. Both pass.

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