Category: Uncategorized

Fairgrounds

I am getting lots of questions today about the Fairgrounds board decision this week about gun shows.  Also, I understand that Councilman Glover filed a resolution today for consideration on December 15 on this topic.  I wanted to share some thoughts quickly before the weekend, and solicit opinions from the public.  (A few people have told me that it is really dumb to talk about this subject at all because I’ll make a lot of people mad no matter what I say.  But, when I campaigned, I promised to have opinions about the important issues of the day…so I am trying to live up to that promise.)

First, I still haven’t seen anything in writing from Metro or the Fairgrounds board about what the board actually decided.  I have seen media accounts, and I have heard from a few others that were present. The wording of each version is somewhat different.  So I don’t know exactly what was decided.  For this reason, there is no way for me to have a set-in-stone opinion about any of this right now.

More to the point, I would like to know whether the Fairground board is seeking to prohibit legal or illegal activity with this decision.  From what I have heard so far, I suspect that they were intending to make a policy decision that, although a gun show is a completely legal activity, the Fairgrounds board decided that it no longer wants to allow that lawful activity to use the Fairgrounds.

If my suspicion is wrong, and the board is really trying to curb some illegal activity, then the obvious question is whether there might be some less restrictive way to eliminate the illegal acts.  Or maybe the board has some specific public safety concern that they think needs to be addressed before there can be more gun shows.  But based on what I have been able to learn so far, I don’t know the answer to these questions either.

If my suspicion is correct and this is a policy decision to deny use of the Fairgrounds for an activity that is allowed by law, I think that might be a problem.  I want to be clear that I think gun violence in America is horrible beyond belief and that I would be in favor of greater federal restrictions to limit the ability of criminals to have access to dangerous weapons.   But even for the strongest gun control advocates, trying to ban a legal gun show from the Fairgrounds seems like it would be hard to do.  The best argument that I could imagine is if the shows simply aren’t profitable for the Fairgrounds and therefore it would be better to rent to some other type of use.  Here too, I haven’t heard any information about the relative profitability of different uses.

I would like to see exactly what the board decided this week. I would like to know whether the board’s goal was to eliminate legal or illegal activities. I would like to know if the Fairgrounds makes money on these shows.  I will reserve judgment until I can get this additional information.  But, if this turns out to be a policy decision to eliminate a legal activity that helps finance the Fairgrounds, I think it will be hard to enforce.  The better path for the board in this situation would be to look for alternative vendors that are more profitable.  And, if they can’t find alternative legal uses that earn more dollars, I am not sure how the government can turn down a vendor conducting a legally allowed business (no matter how much the board might wish that the business weren’t legally allowed).

Thoughts?  Email me at bob.mendes@nashville.gov

Bob Mendes represents all of Nashville as a Council-At-Large member of Nashville’s Metro Council. He is Chair of the Council’s Charter Revision Committee, a member of the Metropolitan Audit Committee, and a member of the Council’s Budget & Finance Committee, Rules & Confirmations Committee, and Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee. Bob also practices business law at Waypoint Law PLLC. Bob’s complete bio is here. You can follow Bob @mendesbob.

For Affordable Housing We Need To Think Big

I went to the Planning Department’s Second Stakeholders Group meeting on November 10. The consultant hired by the department to help formulate inclusionary zoning regulations was there. David Schwartz from Economic & Planning Systems in Denver gave an extended presentation to the group. You can see his slides here.

I continue to have faith that the process is going to lead us to a countywide, consistent approach to affordable housing. But there were parts of the presentation that have left me wondering whether we are going to see proposals that are big and bold enough for the affordable housing challenges that Nashville faces.

My sense is that Mr. Schwartz is going to tell us that our affordable housing issues are localized, not widespread, and certainly not countywide. I think this view is too narrow. And, if this is his perspective, I think the solutions he will propose also will be too narrow.

So, why do I think he’s going to tell us our problems are localized, not widespread, and not countywide?

Mr. Schwartz uses the term “central County.” I haven’t heard that defined precisely yet. But it is obvious that he means to refer to downtown and areas that are very close to downtown. To him, “central County” means the area at the center of Nashville that is approximately 4% of the county’s land mass.

Affordable Housing (2) - Nashville Inclusionary Zoning Feasibility Study

I am concerned that when we get Mr. Schwartz’s recommendations about affordable housing policies, they are going to be limited to apply only to his concept of the “central County.” If you were to ask people who attended the presentation, I think you would find general agreement that Mr. Schwartz repeatedly made reference to the “core” being different, and that different policies should apply to areas with different characteristics.

It isn’t just this definition. When Mr. Schwartz moved into presenting his data, it also showed too narrow a view of our affordable housing struggles.

The data presentation started by suggesting that real property values are appreciating at above average rates pretty much only in his “central County” area. You can see his slide below. In his map, Mr. Schwartz shows rapid price appreciation to be limited to the area from the Gulch across downtown and through lower East Nashville.

Affordable Housing (1) - Nashville Inclusionary Zoning Feasibility Study

But notice how this chart includes data from 2000 to 2015. By including the years before and during the height of the recession, the results on this map are skewed to show generally lower price appreciation. To me, this map fails to capture the rate that price appreciation is changing now…this year…in 2015.

The small area in his “central County” that shows the most aggressive price appreciation is surrounded by Wedgewood-Houston, the Nations, Jefferson Street, Madison, Inglewood, Donelson, and Woodbine. Each of these areas is shown on Mr. Schwartz’s map as having average, or only slightly above average, price appreciation over the last 15 years. But, c’mon…for those of us who live here, we know that these neighborhoods are the current front lines of advancing rapid price appreciation. Intuitively, we know that, if you limited the data to the last several years, the map about price appreciation would look very different. It would show a much larger area with well-above average price appreciation.

To test this theory, I went to the web site for our Assessor of Property. There is a tool there that lets you draw a border around an area, and it will give you housing sales data. When I drew a box around Woodbine (which is shown on Mr. Schwartz’s map as having average appreciation of 4.1% or less over 15 years), I saw that the median home sale price went from $127,450 in the beginning of 2013 to $158,000 in the third quarter of 2015.

Affordable Housing (2) - Sales Charts

So, if the map in the presentation had been limited to the last three years, Woodbine would have been colored two shades darker than on Mr. Schwartz’s map. I got the same result for Donelson ($141,500 in 1Q 2013 to $170,000 in 3Q 2015). This shows appreciation that is nearly twice the pace that is shown in the consultant’s 15 year data map:

Affordable Housing (3) - Sales Charts

I could keep going, but you get the picture. (Try it for yourself at http://davidson.tn.my-pii.com/)

The bottom line is that the map in the presentation does not show the full area that is currently experiencing high price appreciation. To me, this means that the areas that need affordable housing solutions are being understated.

Listen, I know that you can make data say anything, and I know that this process with Mr. Schwartz is very much a work-in-progress. And, the presentation was already more than an hour long and had 38 slides. It is possible, or maybe probable, that the concerns I am sharing are fully on his radar. That would be great, and I am definitely keeping an open mind about his data and ultimate proposals.

But, for today, after hearing the presentation this week, I think it is fair to say that the idea of limiting affordable housing solutions to the “central County” would be too narrow. It is fair to say that showing price appreciation data over 15 years instead of the last 3 years might be used to (incorrectly) support a conclusion that our affordable housing problems are limited to the “central County.” It is fair to say that, if the policies that end up being recommended are based on this approach, we would be thinking too small for the challenges we face.

Mendes Campaign Debuts TV Commercial

Nashville, Tenn. – July 3, 2015 – Metro Council-At-Large candidate Bob Mendes will release his campaign’s first TV commercial on Monday, July 6th.

The 30-second spot is called “Who is Bob Mendes?” and focuses on Mendes’s dedication to finding solutions for Nashville’s biggest issues, such as affordable housing and transit.

The commercial will run until Election Day on broadcast and cable.

Mendes has lived in Nashville for 20 years. In 2014, he launched his own law firm, Waypoint Law, which handles transactions, litigation and insolvency cases. Prior to launching Waypoint, Mendes was a member at Frost Brown Todd, a full-service law firm serving some of America’s top corporations and emerging companies. He currently is the chair of the board of Nashville Electric Service, and the chair of the finance committee for Father Ryan High School. He was a member of Leadership Nashville’s class of 2013, and served as president of the Nashville Bar Association in 2011. He and his wife Sue live in the Hillsboro-West End neighborhood with their two daughters.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW.

Mendes Campaign Announces Quarterly Financial Disclosure

Bob Mendes’s campaign announced its financial disclosure today for the first quarter of 2015, confirming that the campaign for Metro Council-At-Large received more than $45,000 in just under two months.

The total includes contributions of $35,741, and a $10,000 loan from the candidate to the campaign.

Mendes said he was proud of the tally, pointing out that the money was raised over a short time period. “I’m humbled by the incredible support we’ve received since announcing my candidacy,” Mendes said. “I am looking forward to continuing the conversation about how we can build a fair and prosperous Nashville for all of our neighbors.”

Mendes announced his campaign and appointed consumer bankruptcy specialist Maria Salas as his campaign treasurer on February 11. The financial disclosure filed today covers the period from when Salas was appointed as campaign treasurer through March 31, 2015.

Mendes has lived in Nashville for 20 years. In 2014, he launched his own law firm, Waypoint Law, which handles transactions, litigation and insolvency matters. Prior to launching Waypoint, Mendes was a member of Frost Brown Todd. He currently is the chair of the board of Nashville Electric Service, and the chair of the finance committee for Father Ryan High School. He was a member of Leadership Nashville’s class of 2013, and served as president of the Nashville Bar Association in 2011. He and his wife Sue live in the Hillsboro-West End neighborhood with their two daughters.

Mendes Announces Run For Metro Council At-Large

Nashville, Tenn. – February 11, 2015 – Bob Mendes, local business attorney and business owner, today announced his run for Metro Council At-Large. Mendes plans to formally launch his campaign at the end of February.

“I love Nashville, and so, encouraged by family and friends, I have decided to run for Council At-large. My decades of experience as a Nashville attorney have given me a deep understanding of the issues facing the community and allowed me to build relationships with citizens across the city,” said Mendes. “I am excited by the opportunity to build upon the success and growth Nashville has experienced in recent years and to make this great city an even better place to live.”

In advance of the launch, he has appointed Maria Salas as campaign treasurer.  “I’m proud to support Bob,” said Salas. “I have known him for years and not only is he a man of principle and great integrity, but he also has the vision and business experience to move Nashville forward.”

Mendes has lived in Nashville for 20 years. In 2014, he launched his own law firm, Waypoint Law, which handles transactions, litigation and insolvency cases. Prior to launching Waypoint, Mendes was a member at Frost Brown Todd, a full-service law firm serving some of America’s top corporations and emerging companies. He currently is the chair of the board of Nashville Electric Service, and the chair of the finance committee for Father Ryan High School. He was a member of Leadership Nashville’s class of 2013, and served as president of the Nashville Bar Association in 2011. He and his wife Sue live in the Hillsboro-West End neighborhood with their two daughters.

Mendes’s campaign website will launch later this month. In the meantime, please contact him by email at bmendes@waypointlaw.com or by phone at (615) 414-4706.

Campaign Kick-Off Announced

Nashville, Tenn. – Friday, March 13, 2015 – Bob Mendes, candidate for Metro Council At-Large, announced that he will host an official campaign kick-off event on Wednesday, March 18 from 5:30-7:30 pm at Cabana in Hillsboro Village.

“I look forward to discussing my campaign with members of the community and the ways I plan to build on the success and growth that Nashville has experienced in recent years,” said Mendes.  “My decades of experience as a Nashville attorney have given me a deep understanding of the issues facing the community and will allow me to further Nashville’s progress and effectively address the challenges that lie ahead.”

Last month, Mendes announced his candidacy and appointed Maria Salas, accomplished consumer bankruptcy specialist, as campaign treasurer.  Mendes has lived in Nashville for 20 years. In 2014, he launched his own law firm, Waypoint Law, which handles transactions, litigation and insolvency cases. Prior to launching Waypoint, Mendes was a member at Frost Brown Todd, a full-service law firm serving some of America’s top corporations and emerging companies. He currently is the chair of the board of Nashville Electric Service, and the chair of the finance committee for Father Ryan High School. He was a member of Leadership Nashville’s class of 2013, and served as president of the Nashville Bar Association in 2011. He and his wife Sue live in the Hillsboro-West End neighborhood with their two daughters.

Cabana is located at 1910 Belcourt Avenue. The event is free and open to the public. For more information or to RSVP, please visit www.mendes2015.com.