Thursday, May 3, 2018

What happened at the 5/1/18 Council meeting: ban on pet store selling any dog but pound pups passes, all other controversial bills deferred.

To follow along with the video you really need a program. To access the agenda, staff analysis of the agenda and my agenda commentary follow this link.

Reappointment of Ms Cynthia Chappell to Board of Zoning Appeal approved.
Following the prayer and pledge and the deferral of an inconsequential rule change which did nothing more than change the name of a committee, the Council moved to confirmation of mayoral appointments to boards and commissions. Usually these are routine and the council rarely rejects a nominee. The Council took the rare action of a roll call vote to reappoint Ms. Cynthia Chappell to the Board of Zoning Appeal.  The vote was 21 in favor, 5 no's, 4 abstaining and 9 not voting. Initially it was stated that her reappointment failed and it was stated that a confirmation required 27 votes. That was then corrected and it was announced that confirmation simply requires a majority and she was in fact confirmed.

Ms Chappel is a five year veteran of the BZA. I watched the Rules Committee meeting to try determine why Ms Chappel's appointment was controversial. Apparently there was an email campaign to deny her reappointment due to the BZA voting too often in favor of Short-term rental appeals. Council member Jacobia Dowell also says that there is a feeling among some of her constituents that the Board lacks objectivity and that the Board favors the party that has attorneys to represent them, which is usually the developer as opposed to community members. It is also said that because Ms Cappel has a strong personality, she dominates the boards. The Committee recommended reappointment by a vote of 4 to 1.  To see the Rules Committee deliberations see timestamp  29:12 - 49:38 at this link.

There is one resolution and 14 Bills on Public Hearing. Here are the ones of interest:

Bill BL2018-1148 is a rezoning of 36 acres from various residential and industrial zonings to SP in the Baptist World Center Drive area. I am not going to try to understand the pros and cons of this issue so if you want to understand it you are on your on. It is a bill approved by the Planning Commission. There is considerable public comment and Council discussion. There is an attempt to defer the bill that fails. Even if deferred there would not have been a second public hearing. The bill passes on voice vote. To see the discussion see  timestamp 16:40 -53:21.
Bill BL2018-1157  which establishes a 50 foot floodway buffer along the Cumberland River and prohibits variances is deferred to the July public hearing. The sponsor also says their will be a substitute bill.

Resolutions. There are 26 resolution on the agenda. Most are lumped together and pass by a single vote on the "consent agenda."  There are several bill approving PILOT deals for affordable housing. They are not controversial and pass on voice votes. Here are the resolutions of interest:
Resolution RS2018-1158  is and an attempt to decouple the development of a soccer stadium from the location of the Fairgrounds. This resolution authorizes the city to issue bonds for construction of the major league soccer stadium but does not specify the location. There is an effort which I approve of to have the soccer stadium build in Metro Center instead of the Fairgrounds.  The staff analysis says there are several things wrong with this resolution.  If you want to know what they are click here. The owners of the soccer franchise say that building the stadium anywhere other than the fairgrounds would jeopardize the soccer deal. This resolution had a Budget and Finance committee recommendation at 7 opposed and 2 in favor. At the request of the sponsor it was deferred one meeting.
Resolution RS2018-1164 is a resolution approving $2 million  for the Election Commission to fund the special election of a mayor. Some Council members make the point that this was an avoidable expense if the Election Commission would have had the special election on May 1st which they could have done.  The Council is right; the Election Commission was wrong. Now, however the Council has no choice but to fund the special election.   The resolution passes on a voice vote.
Resolution RS2018-1165   is even more money for the Metro General Hospital money pit. It is half a million from the 4% fund for equipment and building repairs. It is deferred "by rule."

Resolution RS2018-1171  would continue the auto emissions testing program in Nashville even though the State says we may discontinue it. This needs to be defeated. It is deferred one meeting.

Resolution RS2018-1180  proposes three amendments to the Metro Charter, all related to the procedure for succession when a mayor leaves office prior to the end of his term. This is deferred one meeting.
 Resolution RS2018-1182  honors "James Shaw, Jr. whose heroism, prompt action, and selfless disregard for his own safety spared numerous lives" in the Antioch Waffle House shooting. This passes on the consent agenda.
All bills on First Reading are lumped together and pass by a single vote as is the norm including the bill to ban plastic bags. I had thought someone might take the unusual step of opposing this on first reading but no one did.

Bills on Second Reading: There are eleven. Here are the ones of interest: 
Bill BL2018-1056 would regulate the on-line market for Short term rentals, that is it
would regulate websites such as Airbnb.   It would require these sites to  require a Metro permit number for each STRP application prior to placing the property on the online marketplace site. It would also require the sites to provide a detailed quarterly reports to Metro. I would oppose this if I served in the Council. The development of the quarterly report could require new computer programs or lots of man-hours for the sites. While the staff analysis does not address the issue, I would like to know by what authority Metro has to require this of a company that is not physically located in Nashville and is simply a go between facilitating the interaction of people who want to provide a place to stay and people seeking a place to stay.  What if Metro required Airbnb to have agents who were locally licensed real estate agent? Could Metro do that?  What if Metro wanted to regulate online porn or wine sales or gambling, could Metro do that? If Airbnb simply ignores this law, what can the city do about it? How would they enforce it? The Internet does not stop at the county line. This is deferred one meeting.

Bill BL2018-1159 would prohibit pet stores form selling any cats or dogs except those obtained from the pound or other such animal rescue organizations. It would still allow Nashvillians to buy dogs from breeders but not pet stores, so if you want to buy any dog other than a pound pup, you will have to go to a pet store across the county line. This passes on a voice vote without discussion.
Bills on Third Reading:There are six. None of them are of much interest. Bill BL2018-1111 (as amended) would put under the purview of the Board of Ethical Conduct and the Standards of Conduct those who violate executive orders regarding rules of conduct. This was controversial when introduced but as amended, according to the staff analysis, this really doesn't do much.

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