I attended the special work session of the city council on Monday morning (February 27th) during which the members reviewed their priorities list (draft) for 2012-13. (Click here to read the agenda item with the priorities list.) The beginning of the meeting was notable for the fact that after the council had been discussing how to go about the business of the meeting (while at times referring to city “staff,”) Mayor Linville, who was in attendance, spoke up. She emphasized that it was not city “staff” about whom the council should be speaking or referring, but about the “mayor” who actually runs the city staff. That did not mean the council should have no communication with “staff,” but that all requests for the “staff” to perform for the council will go through the “mayor” and be prioritized or otherwise discussed. This was not a confrontational exchange at all but a clarification of the manner in which business was to be conducted. Everyone in the room seemed to be quite “pleased” that the mayor made her declaration.
As for the priorities list, I will not belabor all the points made on the 34 items except to say, in general, that the council narrowed the list by eliminating some points and consolidating others. Mark Gardner was to redraft the paper based on council comments. That being said, I would like to point out two discussion areas of particular note.
As for the specific legacy, Sense of Place (items 15-21), Jack Weiss said there was no genuine overall infill strategy as to where, what products, etc., and that was the reason he placed the tool kit and “financial barriers” to land use on the list. He wanted to arrive at an overall policy to provide incentives for infill and discourage density elsewhere. Focus should be on certain areas of town and city economic centers, and downtown planning. All agreed the items under Sense of Place should be consolidated, with specific strategies listed as sub-points. Somebody joked about the 16 screen Cineplex at Barkley, to which there was some tittering agreement and acknowledgment that Barkley was not an urban village but a commercial center and a car magnet. Not mentioned, but probably also on their minds, were the two large developments, Padden Creek (492 units) and King Mountain (over 3,000 units) on the edges of town – and probably also the old DOT site in Sunnyland.
The Legacy of Equity and Social Justice housing standards (rental licensing/enforcement – their words not mine) was presented by Jack Weiss. He wanted to put action on licensing forward again by making it something “acceptable.” Mayor Linville said there should be agreement beforehand with alternatives that would work. She indicated she and Jack Weiss had been speaking about the issue and she had some ideas. There was agreement that any plan would have to be “revenue neutral.” I know what the term means in general, but I am not so sure I know what they mean by it as it applies in this instance. Neither gave any further details.
Also mentioned at the very end of the meeting was the possibility of conducting a review of the charters (or lack thereof) for the various commissions and advisory boards. It appears some people are not happy with the current and apparently ad hoc setup.