Thursday, December 19, 2019

What happened at the Dec. 17th Council meeting: Baby changing stations mandate advances, transparency and oversight measures pass, permits to build a fence killed, teachers raise passes. ban on private streets killed.

This meeting is little over two hours long. If you are going to watch the meeting, follow this link to access the agenda, agenda analysis and my commentary on the agenda.

The Vice mayor announces there are two vacancies on the Community Oversight Board. These two vacancies are in the category that must be filled my someone nominated by a community organization or by petition. The nomination deadline is Jan. 7. To see the explanation of this see timestamp 13:15 -21:55. If anyone is interested in this, contact the Metro Clerk's office.


Resolution RS2019-85 request the Metro Planning Commission to change the Subdivision Regulations to prohibit the creation of new private streets and require all new streets created as a part of the subdivision platting process to be public rights-of-way. This is a "request." It is a memorializing resolution. It does not in itself do anything. When Metro request something of the Federal or State government it is pretty much meaningless. However, when the Council request something of an agency of Metro government, it is taken seriously since the Council controls their budget and confirmation of appointees. Since this is a memorializing resolution the staff attorney does not provide an analysis of this resolution. When making a request of a Metro agency or department, I think the staff analysis should explain the importance of what is being requested. I have a concern with this resolution, I do not know if it is valid, however. My concern: The roads in gated communities are privately owned. If they were public roads, the public could not be kept from using the public road. Would this have the effect of ending gated communities? I emailed the sponsor, asking this question, but did not get an answer. The resolution is deferred indefinitely, which pretty much means it is dead.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2019-130 appropriated $7.6 million to fund the mid-year 3% cost of living raise for Metro teachers and support staff. Councilman Steve Glover explains that by doing this we are committing to continuing this level of pay explaining this raise cannot be taken away. He supports it but wants the action the Council is taking to be clearly understood. He says that going forward he hopes the school board will push every available dollar to the classroom. To see the discussion see timestamp 43:00 - 52:37This passes on a voice vote. 
Bills on Second Reading.
Bill BL2019-30 bans barbed wire and razor wire fencing in the Urban Zoning Overlay District along arterial and collector roadways. This is one of those bills about which I am conflicted. I sympathize with those property owners who are trying to protect their property, but this type fencing creates a feeling of living in a war zone. It makes a street ugly and devalues enjoyment of public spaces. It passed 2nd reading on a voice vote.
Bill BL2019-49 authorizes a property tax exemption for historic properties owned by charitable institutions. I support this. I support efforts to encourage the preservation of historic properties. It passes on a voice vote. 
Bill BL2019-95 requires baby changing stations in buildings with public restrooms. There will have to be at least one diaper changing station per floor if located within a family, assisted-use, or unisex bathroom, or one per sex per floor if located within a separate-sex restroom. This legislation would not require a retrofitting of any buildings. However, newly constructed public bathrooms and public bathrooms that are altered so as to require a building permit would be required to install diaper changing stations in accordance with this requirement. I wonder how many baby changing stations in men's restrooms are ever actually used. I have never seen one in use. This is one of those things I think we should let market demand dictate. We should not mandate it. It passes on a voice vote. There were some "no" votes but the vote is not a recorded vote.
Bills on Third Reading.
Bill BL2019-3 authorizes Metro to opt into the historic properties tax abatement program under state law and would establish a historic properties review board. I support this. I don't want to require property owners to preserve historic properties but I support incentives that encourage historic preservation. This is deferred. 
Bill BL2019-31 (as amended) would require a permit for all new fencing. We have never had this requirement before and I am unsure what problem calls for more burdensome regulation. I oppose it. It is deferred indefinitely. 
Bill BL2019-46 would require more oversight of the Water and Sewer Department. It would have to submit annual reports to the Council which would include: 1. The Audited Financial Statements, including net position, capital assets, outstanding bonds payable, and other financial information. 2. The Annual Budget Review, including the adequacy of budgeted revenues to cover projected expenses and debt requirements. 3. Any other information deemed relevant by the director or upon request of the Council public works or budget and finance committees. It passes 
Bill BL2019-77 requires the disclosure of the full cost of a project prior to submission of capital expenditure authorization legislation to the Metropolitan Council. Currently the New sheriff's headquarters $17M over budget. This is not cost overrun. We simply started the project $17 million short of the cost to complete it. That should not happen. This bill should prevent it. It passes on a voice vote.

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