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Keeping in touch: Notes from the Mayor

Mayor Lucy VinisThis blog aims to nurture our conversation and understanding of the issues before us. Every week, I will provide a weekly update on the activities in the city government, my activities as mayor, and brief reflections on progress, opportunities and challenges. You are invited to respond with reactions, insights and questions. We do this work together.

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Sep 27

Weekly Recap - September 27, 2019

Posted on September 27, 2019 at 5:00 PM by Elena Domingo

I have been called out of town repeatedly this summer and fall to tend to my ailing mother, who has now passed away.  This has meant that I have missed council meetings in June, July, and September.  I am grateful to council leadership, Betty Taylor and Emily Semple, who stepped up to preside in my absence, and appreciate your patience as I have missed community events and been slower than usual to respond to emails.  Thank you.

Most recently, I was absent for council’s discussion of HB 2001 on September 9th.  Councilor Taylor put a motion on the table to do two things: work for repeal of HB2001 and delay any action in implementation until repeal could be put before the legislature in the 2020 session.  Before leaving  town earlier this month, I urged councilors to consider a modified action, delaying any discussion of repealing the legislation until staff has a chance to brief council on the specifics of the statute, so they are clear where it aligns and conflicts with existing policy and planning.. Council voted only to direct staff to work toward repeal in 2020, but rejected the proposal to delay action on implementation, correctly recognizing that HB2001 is state law and the city must comply.

I believe that pursuit of repeal is a fool’s errand and will have serious negative repercussions to the city, costing time and money, and significantly damaging our credibility with our own state legislators, the Speaker and others.  I am urging staff to return to council with a framework to clarify where and how the statute impacts our local planning and zoning.  Council should act on sound information.  This issue will continue to come to council for the coming years as we implement HB 2001 in concert with our ongoing planning.  There will be ample opportunity for the community to listen, learn, and respond.

On September 16th, I was also out of town when council discussed Accessory Dwelling Units. I appreciate Councilor Yeh’s  preparation of four substantive and important motions for consideration that will remove barriers for ADU construction and comply with state statute. The meeting time expired before much progress. This will return to council in a work session on October 23rd when council will have a chance to review the remaining three motions offered by Councilor Yeh, as well as ask for additional clarifications.  I am anxious to see these ordinance revisions completed.  Lost time is lost money for the city, vulnerability to lawsuit, and again, lost credibility both locally and among our state legislators.  We need to land well within the framework of this statute, which has been further clarified by the passage of HB2001.