Thursday, April 30, 2020

What happened at the April 21st Council meeting: 90-day notice to raise rent passes, recycling contract advances, Waffle House shooting law suit settled, new scooter regs pass.

This meeting is over three and half hours long conducted remotely electronically with less than ten people actually in the chamber. To access the agenda and staff agenda analysis, follow the links. Here are the highlights.

Selection of the Metro Auditor: This proved contentious but I do not know one candidate from the other so don't know why or who was supporting whom. Three candidates are recommended by the Audi Committee ranked in order of preference. The three candidates are Lauren Riley, Paul Morris, and John Valtierra. There is a failed attempt to defer the appointment. The Council confirms Lauren Riley by a vote of 37 in favor and 3 abstentions.  To view the deliberation see timestamp 28:30 - 1:13:02.

Resolution RS2020-286 is a non-binding resolution requesting flexibility in rent and mortgage collection in the city of Nashville and supporting the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures to provide housing security in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. This passes on consent so it is passed without opposition. These type resolutions carry no weight and accomplish nothing.

Resolution RS2020-287 is a non-binding resolution requesting the Mayor’s Office and the Metropolitan Department of Public Health partner with Meharry Medical College to seek grant funding to track, study, and report on the impact of COVID-19 on minority and rural communities. When directed to the administration or an agency of government this type memorializing resolution is taken more seriously than when directed to the State or the Federal government or society. Entities dependent on Metro financing listen when the Council speaks. This passes on consent.

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, State No. 99111-4604-04; PIN 125652.00 (Proposal No. 2020M-004AG-001)." This is deferred again. This is they type thing that normally would pass easily, however there is an issue that I suspect, but don 't know, that  may have made 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. Over 500 neighbors of I-440 have signed a petition complaining about the lighting. Normally the Council would have little leverage to influence the State to address these concerns. This may have been held up to exert influence on the State.  This is just speculation. I don't know if neighbors bothered by the I-440 lights have had any relief or not.
Apparently this data collection system works anonymously collecting Bluetooth signals from paired vehicles and it seems their are some concerns about privacy. That may be the concern and may have nothing to do with trying to exert leverage to solve the unrelated lighting complaint. In any event it is still deferred.

Resolution RS2020-276 settles the claim of Shaundelle Brooks, the next of kin to Akilah DaSilva, who died in the Waffle House shooting last year.  The basis of the suit was that an ambulance was dispatched to the wrong Waffle House when the shooting occurred.  There were other ambulances at the scene however.  This is settled for a sum of $35,000 paid out of the Self-Insured Liability Fund. This is the way things are supposed to work.  After the parties negotiate Metro legal either recommends settling or fights the suit in court.  Last October, the Council attempted to undermine Legal and just give away money.  A resolution to settle the suit, before the Council received a recommendation from Legal, was introduced last October and 25 members voted for it.  Luckily that effort failed. If anyone is interested in seeing how members voted at that time, follow this link.  This resolution passes 40-0.

Bills on second reading

BILL NO. BL2020-223 would permit a waiver from distancing requirements for liquor stores and their proximity to places of worship, residences and libraries.  The waiver would have to be granted by resolution following a public hearing, the same way distance requirement waivers are approved for beer permits. This passes second reading by a voice vote.

Bill BL2020-224 would require landlords to provide notice to tenants prior to a sale of the property.  It is deferred to the May 19, 2020 meeting.

Bill BL2020-237 extends the city's recycling contract with Waste Management.  It passes second reading, however, if may very well be killed on third reading.  With budget restraints and the change in the market resulting in recycling costing the city much more money, this may be one service that has to be eliminated. Recycling is very popular however, and the Council may not be willing to bite the bullet. Several members voice support for recycling. To view the discussion see time stamp 2:35:08- 310:27. For more on this issue see this link. The minutes say it passed on a voice vote, but the vote was clearly recorded. Listen to the video. It passes on a vote of 27 to 12 to one abstention on second reading.

Bills on Third Reading.

Bill BL2019-109 (as amended) makes changes in the city policy toward scooters or what is termed "shared urban mobility devices."  This has been worked on for over a year.  A pervious version was on the agenda at one time and then removed because it exceeded the number of times it could be deferred.  This one has some provisions I like such as requiring more speedy response by fleet owners to complaints of overturned scooters and things and new rules establishing 'no sidewalk use' zones and slow zones. I like that it eliminates the restriction on number of scooter companies that can operate in Nashville, but I do not like that it cuts in half the overall number of scooters and restrict each company to only 500 vehicles.  I think market demand should dictate that. The hatred of scooters seems to have abated somewhat or people have just leaned to live with them, but I still fear that if this does not pass something more restrictive, such as a ban, may pass. I would support this and vote for it if I had a vote. There is no discussion. It passes 40 to 0.

Bill BL2020-149 (as amended) requires a landlord to provide a 90-day notice prior to an increase in rent unless the landlord has a contract with a tenant providing a 60-day notice. This is likely to accelerate the loss of affordable housing in Nashville. I own a little rental house which is where I lived until I moved to my current house.  Being a landlord can be a pain. There is not  a week goes by that I do not get several contacts from an investor wanting to by my house.  I get card, emails and text and calls.  They would tear it down and build a tall-skinny. There are a lot of people like me.  The more bureaucratic hassle it is be a landlord the more attractive those offers from investors appear.  If one gets a tenant who won't pay their rent and you must evict them, that process can already take months, this would add months to an already lengthy process. This will be one more thing to destroy affordable rentals. There is already a State law known as the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) which requires a 30-day notice.  In my view Nashville should not have a more restrictive rule than other places in Tennessee.  Also, properties subsidized by the Federal, State or local government would not be subject to the law. To see the discussion see timestamp 3:18:46 - 3:37:30. This passes by a vote of 29 to 7 with 4 abstentions.  Here is how members voted:

Yes: (29) Mendes, Hurt, Allen, Suara, Toombs, Gamble, Swope, Parker, Withers, Benedict, VanReece, Evans, Bradford, Syracuse, Welsch, Sledge, Cash, O'Connell, Taylor, Hausser, Druffel, Pulley, Vercher, Porterfield, Sepulveda, Rutherford, Styles, Lee, and Henderson
No: (7) Glover, Hancock, Young, Roberts, Murphy, Johnston, and Rosenberg; 
Abstain(4): Hall, Hagar, Rhoten, and Nash.

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