Thursday, March 5, 2020

Update: What's on the Council agenda for 3/5/2020: Legalizing some occupational uses of one's home, new rules for landlords, Banning vaping, changes in Short-term rental rules.

Update: I missed the vaping bill in my earlier post on the Council agenda. See the bottom of the page. This is a very bad bill that needs to be defeated.

The Metro Council will meet Thursday, March 5th at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. The Council normally meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month but the Council does not meet on election days and that is why this time the Council is meeting on a Thursday rather than Tuesday. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the Council agenda staff analysis. Below are the items of interest.

Bills on Public Hearing. Bill on public hearing are zoning or related bills.  I do not form an opinion on most zoning bill.  They usually are of concern only to the people in the vicinity of the proposed rezoning. These are the bills on public hearing of interest.

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 for two-family dwellings 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.
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 and it is anticipated that the sponsor will defer this ordinance.
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. 
Bill 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.  
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.
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. This needs to be defeated. If it does pass, I hope the State invalidates it. 
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."

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