Sunday, March 15, 2020

What happened at the March 5th Council meeting: Mayor Cooper addresses the Council regarding the tornado, ...

…. a Short-term rental bills deferred and another advances, allowing home occupations deferred, bill to void some minimum parking requirements advances, bill requiring more notice for landlords to raise rent advance,  vaping ban passes. 

This is a six hour meeting! This may be a record.  To see the agenda, the agenda analysis and my commentary on the agenda follow this link.

The first hour of the meeting is devoted to the recent tornado. The mayor addresses the council starting at timestamp 13:00 and concludes his remarks at timestamp 18:52. The city's response is addressed and how to volunteer or contribute is shared, and members of the Council ask questions.  Following the mayor's remarks the council hears from the Fire Chief, a representative of Hands On Nashville, someone from The Community Resource Center, and some others. This portion of the meeting ends at timestamp 57:40.

Bills on Public Hearing.

Bill BL2019-7 would liberalized the policy regarding Short-term rentals.  Currently if there are two family dwellings on a lot, only one STRP permit can be issued for the lot. This would allow two separate STRP permits to be issued, one for each dwelling, when the units are owned by different persons and each unit is the primary residence of the corresponding owner. No more than two permits could be issued per lot, and only one permit could be issued per dwelling unit. That sounds reasonable to me but I would expect some opposition. It is deferred to the public hearing of April 1.  

Bill BL2019-8 concerns the sidewalk fund. Currently, money collected from the payment in lieu of sidewalks is collected into a pedestrian benefit fund. The funds are required to stay in the pedestrian benefit zone from where the payment was made. This ordinance would remove the pedestrian benefit zones and instead require funds to stay within the Council district of the new development. I don't have a strong opinion about this and don't think it really matters. It is deferred to the first meeting in April
Substitute BL2019-48  would liberalized the policy regarding home occupation.
Currently if no customers are served on the property and if no more than one employee  not living at the home is employed by the business, and a few other requirements are met, one may get a permit to have a home business.  This bill  would remove the prohibition on serving clients on the premises and would instead limit the number served and hours customers could be served.   Permits would not  be required for home occupations when no customers are served on the property. I strongly support this.
There are lot of people writing songs and recording demos in their home now, but they are required to have a permit and do not.  There are one-chair beauty shops and piano teachers giving neighborhood kids piano lessons and accountants doing taxes. These activities should be legalized. People speak both in favor and opposition. Proponents give good examples of Grammy winning artist who had award-winning albums cut in small home recording studios and technological breakthroughs that were developed in home workshops. One artist sings his comments with a song written for the occasion, "We need to work from home."  My friend, Rae Keohane who is on the other side of this issue and opposes the bill is the first person to speak in opposition.  The last person speaking in opposition is former Council member and neighborhood activist John Summers.  Opponents argue "it would do away with residential zoning."
There is a motion to substitute the bill and hold a second public hearing on the bill and to make the bill amendable on third reading. The substitute narrows the scope of the bill by listing certain occupations that would not be covered by the bill.  The primary reason for the second hearing is that due to the tornado, some people who were interested in the bill were unable to attend the public hearing. That passes. There is then a motion to defer second reading action until the second public hearing and that passes. To see the discussion and council action on the bill see timestamp 1:05:50 - 2:34:00
Bill BL2019-78 (SLEDGE) – This ordinance requires a minimum distance for any new Short Term Rental Property that are 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 are hotels and restaurants within 100 feet of some of the same class of  entities identified in this bill. This would place greater restriction on homes rented short-term than we place on businesses.  There is a greater likelihood of complaints against owner-occupied housing and long-term rental housing that there is from short-term rental.  To me this looks like just another unjustified piece of legislation to attack short-term rentals. To see the discussion see timestamp 2:38:00 -  3:33:29.  There are speakers in favor and opposition. The bill is substituted making an insignificant change.  It then passes on second reading on a recorded vote of 20 in favor, 8 opposed, 4 abstain, and 8 not voting.
Bill BL2020-117 would remove the requirement for a minimum number of parking spaces for various uses for properties on multimodal corridors. There is not now a parking requirement for properties in the central business district and properties in urban overlay districts.  If you drive down a thoroughfare and see separated businesses surrounded by parking lots, that is the result of our car-oriented planning which was considered wise planning in the period following WWII.  A lot of what was considered wise planning then is now out of favor. Vibrant cities are build for people, not cars.  The car-oriented planning has led to massive urban sprawl. This bill would not prohibit one from providing parking but would not require it along multimodal corridors. I support this.  I am surprised no one spoke against it because cities without parking requirement have people competing for parking spaces. Residents have to sometimes get used to hunting for parking spaces when a certain number of on-sight parking spaces are not required. It passes with no opposition. 
Bill BL2020-127 is a proposed rezoning in Councilman Hall's district. It is controversial and several people speak on it. This concerns a rezoning on Eaton's Creek Rd.  Also there are three other bills regarding the same development.  I am simply calling attention to these but I do not try to understand and form an opinion on zoning bills that are local to one community. These are deferred. If you are interested in this, see time stamp 3:41:00
Resolution RS2020-202 is  "A resolution approving an intergovernmental agreement by and between the State of Tennessee, Department of Transportation, and The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, acting by and through the Metropolitan Department of Public Works, for signal maintenance for I-440 Traffic Operational Deployment of Blue Toad Spectra Power over Ethernet (PoE) Data Collection Devices,.." This would normally pass without controversy and would not interest me, however there is an issue that may make this controversial.  Many neighbors of the expanded I--440 corridor have complained of lighting pollution.  Some have said that prior to the expansion that they were not bothered by the I-440 lighting but now it shines in their house like a spotlight. Normally the Council would have litter leverage to influence the State to address these concerns. This may be giving the Council some leverage, but I don't know if they are using it. If I were serving in the Council I would hold up passage of this resolution until the concerns of constituents were addressed. This is deferred to the April 7th meeting. 
 Resolution RS2020-212 is complicated. Quoting from the staff analysis:
This resolution deauthorizes the issuance of $60,815,772 in general obligation bonds. The Council approved Resolution No. RS2018-1391 in September 2018 authorizing the sale of general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $775,000,000 to retire outstanding commercial paper from multiple capital spending plans. Commercial paper is a form of short-term financing for capital projects until the long-term bonds are sold, typically once every several years. This enables Metro to better time the market regarding the issuance of long-term debt and to minimize issuance costs. Metro has separate commercial paper programs for the general government debt and Metro Water Services debt. 
 The 2018 bonds were sold at a $60,815,772 premium, meaning the price investors paid was higher than the par amount in order to receive a higher rate of return over the life of the bonds. This resulted in additional cash flow above the par amount of the bonds for Metro at bond closing. Consequently, Metro issued less par amount of bonds to retire the commercial paper used to fund the related capital projects. This deauthorization will have the effect of reducing the par amount of Metro’s total outstanding indebtedness by $60,815,772.
As I understand it, this is a good thing and saves the city money. It passes on a voice vote.
 Resolution RS2020-213   authorizes the issuance of up to $154,000,000 in general obligation bonds to provide funding for various projects contained in the Mayor proposed capital spending plan. It is deferred due to the tornado. The city may have to rethink some spending priorities. 
Resolution RS2020-214 authorizes the issuance of $500,000,000 in Water and Sewer bonds. It is deferred. There are a couple other similar resolutions also deferred. 
 Resolution RS2020-234 is a meaningless resolution condemning predatory practices in the wake of the devastating tornado. It is discussed and passes. 
Bills on Second Reading.
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. It would probably not be enforceable. This needs to be defeated. If it does pass, I hope the State invalidates it. There is some discussion and some reservation are expressed and then it passes on second reading by a voice vote. To see the discussion see timestamp 5:19:15 - 5:40:08.
Bills on Third Reading. 
Bill BL2020-162 (as amended) would prohibit vaping on hospital grounds and
within the public right-of-way in the vicinity of hospital entrances. It is amended to include animal control facilities.  I oppose this bill. Vaping when using the products it was intended for is healthier than cigarettes. There is not evidence that vaping endangers any one but the person vaping. Can you imagine the person with a nicotine habit visiting a sick or dying loved one in the hospital and they need a smoke.? We may think it better if they did not have that habit, but in a time of stress is not the time to punish them for a habit of which we may not approve. Have some compassion! The Council should eject the nanny state and vote "no." This passes on a roll call vote of 30 in favor, 2 "no's," 1 abstaining and I guess 7 people had to go to the bathroom.  Check back for a report on how members voted. 

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