Council Work Session Meeting
- COVID: We have 3 counties in the state that are now in the LOW transmission rate. Our positivity rate is down and vaccination rate is slowly increasing (but still below 70%). Hospitalizations are down but still high.
- COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT UPDATE: There are always items the city is asking for feedback on. One of interest to D5 is the 1100 East Reconstruction. Another big one is the Affordable Housing Survey. A survey related to gentrification should launch soon. Check out other items at www.slc.gov/feedback
- HOMELESSNESS: Overall occupancy is up to about 98%. Tonight will be the first night of nightly overflow beds open at the Ramada Inn location. There are 116 of the longer term beds at that facility that are now full. The Weigand Center, however, will no longer be open for nightly beds after today. St. Vincent DePaul will continue operating as well as the scattered Motel Rooms program. The VOA and Road Home will be consolidating staff and resources in one location. The best way to access shelter is by calling 801-990-9999.
- EQUITY UPDATE: There was not an update received today.
1583 EAST STRATFORD AVENUE REZONE: This is a rezone request in the Sugarhouse area. To be transparent, this is a project that my private firm is connected to. AFTER, the applicant received their unanimous negative recommendation, my firm was hired to adapt their plans in order to meet their goals while responding to the concerns of the planning commission related to loss of existing housing. Because of my business involvement I will not be engaged in the council’s discussion or decision.
PIONEER PARK IMPROVEMENTS PROJECT UPDATE: This informational briefing is related to Pioneer Park improvement plans. The Downtown and Central City neighborhoods are the parts of our city which are in the greatest need for additional or improved park space. With the projected residential growth Downtown, this need only increases. Take a look at the plans here: https://www.slc.gov/parks/pioneer-park-improvements/ The administration outlined a phased implementation strategy which could begin as early as 2023.
BUDGET AMENDMENT NO.4 FOLLOW-UP: This is an older budget amendment but we are being asked to further consider one of the items related to the overflow homeless shelter at the Ramada Inn. It was requested that we allocate $300k (of a total allocated amount of $600k) to go to Shelter the Homelessness in order to pay for the lease of the site. The council (including myself) had originally indicated that we didn’t want to use that money for the shelter operations but instead use it for the community. This item will be voted on tonight so check below for info and the result of the vote.
BUDGET AMENDMENT NO.6 FOLLOW-UP: This is our third briefing for this BAM and there will be a public hearing for it tonight. We talked about a few items in this work session and I’ll try to summarize the items we discussed here. The Suazo Business Center item will likely be reduced to about $18,000 which would get us to be on track for an annual $25,000 appropriation at the time of budget (not in a special budget amendment process). The same situation was discussed with reducing the Biohive membership of $50,000 to a partial year’s membership for about $37,000. Differing opinions were expressed on the Biohive funding and I’m not sure where we will end up. We talked about Fix the Bricks, a program to help residents make seismic improvements to brick homes, which is moving from one department to another. This change is budget neutral.
Another request is for access control upgrades at the Public Safety Building. We discussed whether this was needed now or if it could wait until the general budget adoption. The next item was for our public fireworks shows. This touches on issues of fire safety and air quality. Councilmember Puy is specifically opposed to paying for those items for the above issues and hopes that we can find a better way to celebrate. This was straw-polled and it looks like we will likely keep the celebration for this year but try to find a non-fireworks way to celebrate in future years. We discussed a grant for trailhead improvements but balancing that opportunity for additional funding with the concerns expressed by some community members about the development of the new trails.
Another item would be for a COPS hiring grant which would result in hiring 10 additional police officers in order to increase the capacity of our violent crimes unit. This is named the V-CAT (Violent Criminal Apprehension Team). Our discussion went pretty deep into the timing and process of this decision we are being asked to consider. The question for me is multi-faceted. First, is it needed? Chief Brown made a pretty compelling argument for yes. Second, if we do approve this, will it make it harder to increase salaries for existing police officers? And, if so, how will we ever be able to fill the vacancies we already have in the department?
And finally, this all goes back to a broad question with many items in this BAM which is, should we be considering these items in an isolated way in this budget amendment or should we be considering them in the context of the broader city budget adoption which will begin in a few months.
REDISTRICTING UPDATE: Our subcommittee finished reviewing our 46 applications and they have forwarded 9 applicants as their recommendation for the citizen redistricting committee. Thank you to those who applied and even if you weren’t selected that does NOT mean that your voice isn’t valued. 3 council members (Puy, Petro, and Fowler) made the recommendation and they tried really hard to curate a diverse committee on multiple levels including gender, age, race, sexuality, etc.
STATE LEGISLATIVE BRIEFING: This was switched to a written briefing.
BOARD APPOINTMENTS: Today we met Alexander Lovell and Kathryn Floor who will be serving on the Public Utilities Advisory Committee. If you are interested in serving your city check out the list at www.slc.gov/boards
- BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Today we passed a ceremonial resolution officially recognizing February as Black History Month in Salt Lake City. Reverend Davis from the Calvary Baptist Church and Jeanetta Williams from the NAACP as well as other community leaders joined our meeting and made comments.
- BUDGET AMENDMENT NO.6: No comments were received on this item. Continued the public hearing to a future date.
- FORMER FIRE STATION NO.3 REZONE: No comments were received on this item. Closed the public hearing and deferred action to a future date.
- 1193 WEST CALIFORNIA AVENUE REZONE: No comments were received on this item. Closed the public hearing and deferred action to a future date.
- 2060 NORTH 2200 WEST REZONE: No comments were received on this item. Closed the public hearing and deferred action to a future date.
- BUDGET AMENDMENT NO.4: No comments were received on this. We took action as noted below.
GENERAL COMMENTS: Roughly 7 comments were received which included items such as: urban forestry and street trees, high density development patterns, rezoning on Stratford Ave, supporting the unsheltered, and the proposed Pioneer Park improvement plans.
- BUDGET AMENDMENT NO.4: We approved (in a 5-2 vote) an appropriation of $301,456 to go to the lease payments for the former Ramada Inn which is being used as a temporary overflow homeless shelter.
- ACCESSIBILITY AND DISABILITY COMMISSION: We adopted this unanimously.