Sunday, February 9, 2020

What happened at the Feb.4 Council meeting: Most of the bad stuff deferred, including prohiting contracting for detention facilities. Anti short-term rental bill advances

by Rod Williams - This meeting is three and a half hours long. To access the agenda, agenda analysis and my partial commentary on the agenda follow this link. To see the meeting minutes follow this link. Below is my summary of the meeting listing what I deem the most important items on the agenda. This meeting includes public hearing on zone changes and related matters. If that concerns you, you are on your on.  Since all were approved by the Planning Commission and I am not very interested in rezoning bills, I skipped that part except for the bills regarding short-term rentals.

Following Pat Nolan's introduction, the call to order, the  prayer, pledge and some announcements the Council takes up elections and confirmations including appointments to the Community Oversite Board.  I do not know any of the candidates and the voting seems to show that there is no ideological division in the way council members voted. One of the candidates, Samuel X, is a student minister with The Nation of Islam and he got the votes of only two members that being Council Members Hurt and Suara. There were six candidates to fill three seats. If you care about who voted for which candidate, see the minutes at this link. Filling these seats is somewhat complicated. If you wants to watch the explanations and the process, see timestamp 15:53 - 37:35.

Special Committee Reports: At the start of this term of the Council, the Vice mayor appointed eight special committees to look at different issues facing the city.  The mayor has each chairman of one of these special committees to provide and up to a  three minute synopsis of the committee's findings. The chairmen of the various committees present some interesting findings and good suggestions. I recommend you watch this segment of the council meeting. To view these committee report presentations see timestamp 41:55- 1:13:13.  Also the Committee reports of each committee is posted online at this link. I plan to read these reports.

Public Hearing: 

BILL NO. BL2019-78 (SLEDGE) – This ordinance requires a minimum distance for a new Short Term Rental Property - Not Owner-Occupied from churches, schools, daycares, and parks. No new STRP permit could be located less than 100 feet from a religious institution, a school or its playground, a park, or a licensed day care center or its playground, unless, after a public hearing, a resolution receiving 21 affirmative votes is adopted by the Council. In my view this is uncalled for. I oppose this bill. I live on a street with several short-term rentals and have never had a problem.  I have one diagonally across the street from me.  Maybe some people do have a problem but that indicates a need for more enforcement not making it more difficult to have short-term rental.  There is a greater likelihood of complaints against owner-occupied housing and long-term rental housing that there is from short-term rental.  The bill is deferred  until March 5th.
BILL NO. BL2019-111 (PARKER, TOOMBS, & SLEDGE) – This ordinance creates new “NS” (No STRP) districts for all zoning districts, except single and two family residential (R and RS), downtown code (DTC), and industrial districts (IWD, IR, and IG). These new NS zoning districts would be identical to all existing standards and all existing uses, except that owner occupied and not owner occupied uses would be prohibited in NS districts. This is another unnecessary attack on short term rentals and an attack on property rights.  To see the discussion see timestamp 1:22:35- 2:07:22.  After some discussion it passes on a voice vote.
Resolutions: All were routine non-controversial resolutions.

Second Reading:
Bill BL2020-115 (as amended) requires a security plan prior to obtaining a building permit for a parking structure constructed near a stadium, arena, or racetrack. Under this ordinance, no parking structure, as defined by the zoning administrator, could be constructed within 100 feet of a stadium, arena, or racetrack that accommodates or will accommodate 1,000 people or more unless a security plan prepared by a professional sports/entertainment facility security consultant is approved by the fire marshal and the department of codes administration. The security plan must, at a minimum, include mitigation mechanisms to protect spectators from attacks associated with explosives contained inside motor vehicles located on or within the parking structure. It is my understanding that this would be another obstacle in the way of the proposed MLS Fairground stadium. Also for security purposes, it does sound reasonable. I support this bill. It is deferred one meeting.
BILL NO. BL2020-148 (BENEDICT, WELSCH, & OTHERS) – This ordinance would amend Section 4.12.240 of the Metro Code pertaining to future contracts with private operators of detention facilities. Ordinance No. BL2017-542 established Section 4.12.240 to require future contracts for correctional facility management services to be approved by the Metro Council, and to require reports to be submitted by the contractor to the Council regarding contractor performance for future contracts. This ordinance would delete those requirements from the 2017 ordinance and substitute with new provisions that would prohibit Metro from entering into a new contract, or renewing an existing contract, with a private contractor to manage a Metro detention facility after June 30, 2022. The ordinance would also prohibit Metro from entering into or renewing a contract with the state for the detention of incarcerated persons if the contract permits a private contractor to manage the facility. "Profit" has become a dirty word for some people in recent years. For-profit prisons and schools have especially come under attack by progressives. I think government contracting for services is often, not always-but often, more cost-effective than government providing services directly, whether garbage collection, janitorial services, road construction or owning and managing prisons. I oppose this bill. Contracting for detention services should not be banned as an option. This is deferred one meeting.
BILL NO. BL2020-149 would require landlords to provide at least 90 days’ written notice to tenants before increasing the tenant’s rent. This is likely to reduce the availability of affordable housing and raise rent prices. This type interference in the market hardly ever achieves the desired result. There is already the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) which requires a 30-day notice. Nashville should not have a more restrictive rule than other places in Tennessee. This needs to be defeated. If it does pass, I hope the State invalidates it. It is deferred two meetings
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 concept. I don't want to require property owners to preserve historic properties but I support incentives that encourage historic preservation. Apparently, according to comments by the sponsor,  a study found there would be a significant loss of tax revenue if this bill was enacted. I am surprised that enough properties would qualify to make the tax loss significant.  The sponsor defers the bill indefinitely which means it is dead.  The sponsor says he plans to continue working on the issue and will bring something similar back before the Council. Bill BL2019-49 was related to 2019-3 and it is also deferred indefinitely. 

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