Month: October 2018

Church Street Park Appraisal(s)

Metro has posted an updated appraisal of Church Street Park dated October 12, 2018 here.

The cover page of this update refers to a September 12 revision also. I asked for that. It’s not on a Metro web site. But I’ve posted it here. The values are different — about $5.5 million in the September version and about $4.6 million in the October version.

I have more thoughts about this…but I’m short on time today. So just three quick notes:

First, there is an assumption baked into the appraisal that I think a lot of people would disagree with. The appraiser suggests that there is not a demand for park space downtown. The comment is:

“…the current demand for public green space is unknown in the Central Business District. It would be nice but, other than for a select few, the park is underutilized.”

Aside from this questionable assumption about the need for park space downtown, I think we have to assume that “select few” is a really bad choice of words in referring people who are experiencing homelessness.

Second, I believe there is an error in the appraisal that impacts the appraiser’s conclusion. This needs to be fixed.

Page 32 of the most recent version looks at some comparable sales — two of them are 805 Lea and 421/425 5th Avenue South. You can see the sale dates for the two properties listed in the chart on page 32. It says 805 Lea was sold in 2016 and 421/415 5th Ave S was sold in 2018:

The same two properties are listed in another chart on page 37 with the sales dates reversed from the first chart:

Online property records suggest that the chart on page 37 is correct:

This should be corrected.

Third, the whole point of my legislation a few months ago about getting an updated appraisal was to have it take into account any changes to zoning and entitlements that the developer will seek (and get). I’m told that this information is not available at this time and that I should go ask the developer.

I probably won’t do that. Instead, I think I’ll wait for legislation to come to the Council (next year, I’m told). At that point, as required by the law the Council passed in August, I’ll look to receive an updated appraisal that reflects the zoning and entitlement improvements being sought for the developer.

The Other Charter Amendments

With early voting starting, I am getting a lot of questions about the other Charter amendments — Numbers 2 through 6.

The text of the proposed amendments is here.

A good round-up by Tony Gonzalez at WPLN is here.

(I’ve already posted about Amendment #1 on community oversight. I am voting FOR #1. My previous post is here.)

My thoughts on #2 through #6 are:

#2 — This amendment adds a new provision about what would happen if both the Mayor and Vice Mayor were unable to serve. Currently, the Charter is silent about what would happen. This is definitely a very low-probability event, but earlier this year, it became clear that if David Briley had been unable or unwilling to serve as Mayor for any reason, the seat would have remained vacant until the next election. This amendment fills the hole. If passed, the new provision would have the Council choose a temporary mayor. The person selected would not be allowed to run for the office. This is supposed to keep the Council from getting too bogged down in the politics of trying to figure who would get a head start in an election. I am voting FOR #2.

#3 — This amendment talks about when a special election will take place when various seats are vacant. Most of this amendment is just clarifying language. The biggest change in this one is about when to hold a special election for a vacant district council seat. Currently, if a vacancy will be less then 12 months, there is no special election. The amendment would change this threshold to 8 months. There are pros and cons both ways. With the current 12 months, an individual district may suffer from having no leadership for up to a year. The problem with shortening it up to 8 months is that there could be scenarios where a Council member might resign with 8 months and a day until the next scheduled election. Under the new language, that would trigger a special election. The special election would take about 70 days to organize, and then another few weeks for the Election Commission to certify the result. In that case, the winner would be getting sworn in with just about 5 months until the next election (and therefore immediately begin campaigning). On this one, I am close to indifferent and may let “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” guide me to vote AGAINST #3.

#4 — This amendment would change the oath of office for Metro positions to include a promise to uphold the Metro Charter. I am very indifferent on this because we are obligated to uphold the Charter whether it is in the oath of office or not. That said, I believe I will vote FOR #4.

#5 — This amendment would extend term limits for Council members from 2 terms to 3 terms. The argument behind this one is that term limits are said by some to have further watered down the power of the Metro Council and tilted our form of government even more in favor of the Mayor. I have two reasons why I’ll vote against this one. First, voters in Davidson County reject the idea of extending term limits every chance they get and I want to be responsive to that. Second, I suspect that Council members would not gain much more skill or influence or knowledge in years 9 to 12 than they do in years 5 to 8 in the Council. I’ll vote AGAINST #5.

#6 — This amendment would update the Charter to use gender neutral terms throughout. If you read the Charter now, it is striking how dated the terminology is. I will for FOR #6.