The Metro Council has a long agenda on February 7. I am guessing that the short term rental bills will generate the most public interest. I have put those items in bold so you can skim for them easily. Here’s what I am looking at:
For public hearing
There are two bills (-491 and -555) that were disapproved by the Planning Commission. After some recent media coverage about how the Council approaches disapproved bills, it will be interesting to see if the dynamic changes. Usually, disapproved items get approved on 2nd reading, or the sponsor defers to do some more work on the bill.
There’s another (-559) where the Planning Commission made no recommendation. This one is inside baseball. Currently, for a property owned by Metro, an application to change the zoning can only be initiated by the Mayor or the head of the department to which the property is assigned. This bill would add Council members to the list. One side of this would argue that the executive branch is in the best position to manage Metro’s property as a whole. The other would argue that the legislative branch should be able to start a zoning change on Metro owned property.
At our last meeting, the Council voted to defer consideration of a contract with a software company to help with short-term rental enforcement. That was Resolution -519. Since then, the Mayor’s office canceled that contract and they are putting it out for a competitive bid. I think -519 will be withdrawn.
The Barnes Housing Fund has awarded $8+ million in new funding (-536). I expect the Council will approve this award.
We are also being asked to approve $540,000 for the Knowles Assisted Living Facility (-539). There has been media attention to this also. Basically, Metro’s effort to privatize the facility has stumbled because the new operator was not up to the task. Metro is trying again. These funds are necessary to pick up the slack from the failed operator while Metro works on getting a qualified transition operator in place.
Usually, 1st reading isn’t very interesting because most everything gets passed on to 2nd reading more or less automatically. Let me briefly put a few of the new bills on your radar.
The legislation that created the Downtown Central Business Improvement District is expiring. Bill -580 would extend the Downtown CBID. I haven’t gotten all the details yet, but I understand the boundaries are changing a little, and I understand that the district would become automatically renewing under the new bill.
There is a bill to update Metro’s storm water fees (-588).
There is a bill to provide a financial incentive to Ryman for their new indoor water park facility (-589).
There is a bill to authorize the use of eminent domain to acquire the real estate necessary to realign the intersection of Crestmoor Road and Hillsboro Road in Green Hills (-590).
I have sponsored a short term rental bill (-492). All of the new short term rental bills seem to assume that -492 will pass. That’s good. I filed -492 for two reasons — to fix a few definitions that a Court thought were vague, and to move the short term rental legislation to “Title 17” which allows us to have much-needed public hearings about any changes to the short term rental rules. I hope this passes.
Council Member Jim Shulman has a bill that would have MNPD providing quarterly reports about their extensive community service activities (-525). A few have criticized this bill as somehow creating more work for MNPD. I don’t see it that way. As it is, MNPD is engaged in significantly community relations work. And, if you attend one of their weekly COMSTAT meetings, you can get an update on this work. CM Shulman’s ordinance would demonstrate that the full Metro government stands behind this important work, and that it should be more widely publicized.
This one isn’t super-interesting, but it’s my bill…so, I’ll mention it. Bill -560 updates two parts of the Metro ethics ordinance. In both places, there were incorrect citations to statute sections that had been changed over the years.
There is one bill (-297) that was disapproved by the Planning Commission by a narrow 4-3 margin. I don’t recall opposition at the Council public hearing, and I have not been getting emails about this from the community. I’ll need to hear out the sponsor and Planning about this.
Council Member Freddie O’Connell has a bill that would require contracts for correctional facility management to be approved by the Council (-542). I am a co-sponsor. CM O’Connell has talked to Sheriff Hall about this, and he is okay with it. I expect this to pass.