Friday, May 08, 2020

The power of choice: 1 in 3 Nashville public school students opt out of neighborhood schools

The Tennessean - More than 1 in 3 students — about 32,000 of the 86,300 children enrolled this year — commute to a public school outside of their designated neighborhood zone. Those figures do not include families that have chosen a private school, home school or moved out of the county to enroll in another school district. ….

..., Hume Fogg High School had 425 applicants for just 91 open slots this year. …… At Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School, for example, nearly 50% of students zoned for the school chose other public schools,.... (link to the article)

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Thursday, May 07, 2020

(Update) Virtual Budget Questions and Answers Session for Councilmembers. 4PM today, May 7th

Metro press release - Budget and Finance Committee Chair Bob Mendes will host a Budget Questions and Answers Session with Councilmembers to generally discuss the budget process and provide budget orientation for new Councilmembers. In accordance with Safer at Home Order fprotocols on safe social distancing, there will not be a physical location for this meeting in order to protect public health, safety, and welfare.

Members of the public can view and listen to this meeting live on Comcast channel 3, AT&T Uverse channel 99, Google Fiber channel 3, the Metro Nashville Network Roku channel, and online through Metro Nashville Network.

Budget Questions and Answers Session Supplemental Resource Materials:

Meeting facilitated by Budget and Finance Committee Chair and Councilmember-At-Large Bob Mendes:

Rod's comment: The meeting is today, May 7th at 4PM.  The above listed resources are good for anyone who wants to understand Metro's budget.  You may also want to see, Citizens' Guide to the Metro Budget.

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Mayor’s Office Roadmap for Reopening Hospitality Industry Businesses Webinar, Friday May 8th.

Metro Nashville press release - Mayor John Cooper and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp are pleased to present a webinar for businesses in the hospitality industry.

  • Welcome: Butch Spyridon, CEO Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp 
  • Nuts and Bolts of Operating in the Age of Coronavirus: Alex Jahangir, MD, Chair, Metro Coronavirus Task Force 
  • Making your Workplace Safe: Hugh Atkins, Metro Public Health Department 
  • Keeping your Employees Safe: Martha Boyd, JD, Baker Donelson 
  • Peer-to-Peer: Dee Patel, Managing Director of the Hermitage Hotel; Rick Schwartz, CEO, Nashville Zoo. 
  • Question and Answer Session for webinar attendees 
Attendees can attend the small business webinar, using the case sensitive password: Metro2020.

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The mayor's office held budget "hearings," not "discussions," this year. Council begins hearings on May 11.

by Rod Williams - I am pleased to see the mayor's office held budget "hearings," not budget "discussions," this year.  When Mayor Barry was elected she changed the terminology from "hearings" to "discussions" and Mayor Briley kept the terminology.  The council never adopted "discussions;" it continued to have "hearings."

"Discussions," sounds so much more "collaborative" and touchy-feely than "hearings." This is serious business and needs to be treated as such. The Council begins its budget hearings on May 11. Members of the public can view and listen to this meeting live on Comcast channel 3, AT&T Uverse channel 99, Google Fiber channel 3, the Metro Nashville Network Roku channel, and online through Metro Nashville Network.  One can watch broadcast meetings on the Metro Nashville Network YouTube channel the day after live broadcast.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Nashville to pay more to maintain recycling once a month

by Rod Williams- So much for Nashville cutting wasteful spending to avoid a tax increase.

At one time recycling saved the city money.  The waste diverted from the landfill combined with the income from the sale of recyclables was a net plus for the city.  No more. Instead of saving the city money, recycling now cost the city money. A little over a year ago, China which was the world's largest purchaser of recycled material, stopped accepting and the prices paid for recyclables plummeted. It is hard to give it away and a lot of what is put in the recycle bin ends up landfilled anyway. It is hard to even give away recyclables unless they are very clean and not contaminated by waste or material that is not recyclable. Now, to continue recycling, the process will be very costly for the city.

The city was being faced the decision to renew a contract with Waste Management for processing the recyclables.  Then terms of the new 5-year contract required Metro to  pay up to $1.7 million more annually in higher processing fees and pay Waste Management an immediate "owed" payment of $1 million. The new contract changes the split form the sale of recyclables from 50/50 to 70/30, so if the market should turn around the city could recoup some of the money paid to Waste Management, but that is very unlikely to happened. Tuesday night the Council voted to approve the new contract.  The only three councilmen voting against the deal were Steve Glover, Zach Young and Russ Bradford.

For more on the story follow this link.

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Mayor’s Office 65+ Resident Webinar, Thursday, May 7, 2020 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Metro press release -Mayor John Cooper and the Metro Nashville Covid-19 Task Force are pleased to present two additional Roadmap for Reopening Nashville Webinars.

Mayor’s Office 65+ Resident Webinar

The second webinar is intended specifically for Davidson County residents age 65 and older and will take place on Thursday, May 7, 2020 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST. All Nashvillians are welcome to join this webinar, regardless of age.

  • Welcome and Intro of Format: Michael Caldwell, MD, Director, Metro Public Health Department Nuts and Bolts Overview (Timing, testing, PPE, etc.): Alex Jahangir, MD, Chair, Metro Coronavirus Task Force
  • Navigating an Uncertain Landscape: Grace Smith, Executive Director, Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee
  • Peer-to-Peer – Best Practices: James Powers, MD, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Arie Nettles, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics; Director, Office of Inclusion and Health Equity, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Chair, Statewide Planning and Policy Council, Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Q&A Session for webinar attendees

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Mayor’s Office Religious Congregation Webinar,Thursday, May 7, 2020 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Metro press release - Mayor John Cooper and the Metro Nashville Covid-19 Task Force are pleased to present two additional Roadmap for Reopening Nashville Webinars.

Mayor’s Office Religious Congregation Webinar 
The first webinar is for religious congregations throughout Davidson County and will be held on Thursday, May 7, 2020 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. CST.

  • Welcome and Intro of Format: Michael Caldwell, MD, Director, Metro Public Health DepartmentNuts and Bolts Overview (Timing, testing, PPE, etc.): Alex Jahangir, MD, Chair, Metro Coronavirus Task Force 
  • Making your Worship Space Safe: Hugh Atkins, 
  • Metro Public Health Department Peer to Peer - Best Practices: Rev. Dexter Brewer, Christ the King Catholic Church; Rabbi Laurie Rice, Congregation Micah 
  • Q&A Session for webinar attendees 
Attendees can attend the Religious Congregation webinar, using the case sensitive password: Metro2020

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Monday, May 04, 2020

(update) What's on the Council agenda for May 5th: Face mask required, new short term rental rules, legalizing some home-based occupations.

by Rod Williams - The Council meeting will occur on Tuesday May 5th at 6:30pm. Again, most council members will participate electronically and will not actually be in the chamber.  This is the first Tuesday of a month which is pubic hearing night on zoning and related matters. Those wishing to address the Council on a zoning matter can do so by phone.  For detail on how that will work, follow this link.

Here is a link to the Council agenda and the Council staff agenda analysis. Below I am providing a summary and some commentary on what I deem the most important items on the agenda. I am not attempting to form an opinion and understand all of the zoning bills. Most zoning bills only concern nearby neighbors. I am only calling attention to a bill on pubic hearing if it is disapproved by the Planning Commission, I think it is controversial, or it has a wider impact than a simple zone change.

Bills on Public Hearing.

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, one for each dwelling, 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. There are some people who want to abolish short-term rentals and will oppose any move that would allow an additional STRP unit.

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. Council members generally like more control of what happens in their districts and will most likely approve this.

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. Currently a permit is required for all home businesses There are probably thousands of people violating the ordinance. If you are writing the great American novel at your kitchen table or writing the next hit song in your den, you are suppose to have a permit. Under this bill a permit would not be required for a home occupation where no customers are served on the property.  Under this bill if one did serve clients on the property they could get a permit.  There could be no more than three vehicle trips per hour, with a maximum of six visits per day related to the business. Customer visits could only occur by scheduled appointment and between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Only certain occupations would be permitted, including personal instruction, general office, personal care services, multimedia production, and artisan manufacturing uses. The lady who offers neighborhood kids piano lessons could be permitted and do so legally if this passes. I strongly support this bill.

Bill BL2020-188 would require a paved drive ways for all residential property for the first ten feet from the edge of the road in.  The purpose of this is to keep gravel from washing into the road.  The effect of this will contribute to a loss of affordable housing.  I own one rental unit and get about five offers a week by phone, text, emails or cards wanting to buy the property.  If I sold it, it would be torn down and a tall-skinny would replace it. If I am forced to spend money and make improvements, I may just sell it.  Things like this have a cumulative effect leading  to a loss of affordable housing.

Substitute Bill BL2020-197 would declare a 120-day moratorium upon the issuance of building and grading permits for multi-family developments on property within portions of the Antioch area of Nashville & Davidson County. I oppose this.  If a developer is ready to build and must put plans on hold for three months that can cost a lot of money.  Combined with others things that can go wrong, that can kill a project.  I oppose this.


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 has been pending and deferred for months. This is the 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 there are some concerns about privacy. That may be the reason this is being held up and may have nothing to do with trying to exert leverage to solve the unrelated lighting complaint.  This time it is on the consent agenda so what ever the concern was, it must have been resolved.

Bills on Second Reading

Bill BL2020-147 concerns lobbyist registration.  Anyone who is paid to influence Metro is supposed to register as a lobbyist. The current fee is $50. This would raise it to $100.  It would also identify a new class of lobbyist called "volunteer lobbyist" and requires them to  register.  That is people who do not get paid to lobby but get reimbursed for expenses only. I do not have a firm opinion on this bill but would urge the Council to carefully study the issue and make sure that we are not impeding the right of people to petition government for redress of grievances.

Bill BL2020-276 would establish an impact fee on development. An Impact fee is money paid by a developer at the time a development commences that is designed to offset the impact the development will have on government services and infrastructure.  This would apply to both business and residential.  I oppose this.  The staff analysis says we can't do this as it violates state law.

Bill BL2020-285 would require employees of essential businesses interfacing with the public to
wear face masks. There is not even evidence that wearing a face covering does much good. I wear one but I don't want to force people to were one.

Bills on Third Reading

Substitute BL2019-78 - This ordinance requires a minimum distance for any new Short Term Rental Property that are 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 are hotels and restaurants within 100 feet of some of the same class of entities identified in this bill. This would place greater restriction on homes rented short-term than we place on businesses. There is a greater likelihood of complaints against owner-occupied housing and long-term rental housing that there is from short-term rental.

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