[MissoulaGov] committee update 10-10-07

Bob Jaffe bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us
Wed Oct 10 22:19:59 MDT 2007


This morning we had Ellie Hill from the Poverello Center come in to discuss
recent complaints about unruly homeless people downtown. The gist of what I
got out of the discussion was that ordinances that further criminalize
panhandling are generally not effective. They can’t pay the tickets and jail
doesn’t look so bad for a lot of these folks. The Poverello is looking to
expand their operation to be able to provide some daytime space and services
to give folks a healthier place to hang around. For various reasons a lot
of their clients can not really be sent off to work. Ellie did like the idea
of developing some kind of day labor service for the clients who could take
advantage of that.

Patty Kent from the mental health center also spoke about the need for a
place for the people with substance abuse issues to go. You have to be sober
to go to the Pov. As we all know there are a number of homeless people who
are not getting sober any time soon. In fact, these are most likely the very
folks we are having trouble with.

After the meeting I had the opportunity to speak with Laurie Johnson, one of
the downtown ambassadors working for the business improvement district. Her
take was that there are about 20-25 people who generate almost all of the
complaints. Most of them are not sober.

Maybe we need to look into having a designated drunk zone somewhere
downtown. Someplace they can hang out and have their basic needs met without
being on the doorstep of someone’s business. I think that is the niche the
3:16 mission tries to fill but they have a containment issue with the rest
of the neighborhood.

I’m very much in favor of providing increased resources to the Pov. But I’m
concerned that we still won’t address the small number of highly visible
homeless folks that really get under the skin of the downtown merchants.

In conservation we approved some contracts to finish the resurfacing of all
of our tennis courts and to rebuild the fence around the Bonner park courts.

In PAZ we struggled with a 14 unit subdivision out on the corner of 7th and
Tower. The tough part about this one is the comparable county zoning is
RLD2 (2 per acre). So we passed the first motion to set the public hearing
to annex and zone at RLD2. The next motion was to set the public hearing to
rezone to RLD4 and approve the subdivision. So really we are bringing it in
at RLD4 (4 per acre). But doing it in two steps makes sure it at least gets
the RLD2 zoning in case the rest of the deal falls apart. It is considered
a bad thing to annex and subdivide with no zoning. There would be nothing
to stop the new neighbors from opening up a feed lot.

There are also some conflicts with the growth policy in this area. The
policy calls for developing the fringes of town to urban densities when
infrastructure becomes available. But it also still shows the 1970’s map
that calls for ½ acre lots out there.

Another issue I would like to see addressed has to do with the subdivision
itself. It divides the site into a near perfect grid of equal sized lots. I
personally don’t really see a big difference between 2 and 4 per acre.
Neither is open space and neither is high enough density to efficiently
support city services. I am sensitive to the issue of building over the
absolute best soils in the vicinity. I would like to see some emphasis on
clustering in the subdivisions we see out in the Orchard Homes area. We
could get the same or greater densities but at least preserve some of the
ground. If done well this could do more to preserve the character of the
neighborhood than covering the whole area with evenly spread half acre lots.

I’m not the one designing the thing and I haven’t studied the site
limitations so maybe this is the best they could do. But I’m optimistic
that projects can be designed that reasonably meet the needs of the
developer, the neighborhood, and the community.

In A&F we approved the final agreement between the city, Safeway, and St.
Pat’s. A lot of people have been working for a really long time to put this
deal together. If I’m remembering all the numbers right it goes something
like this: The city will kick in about $1.5 million to St. Pats. St. Pats
will then prepare the site for Safeway to the tune of about $3.5 million.
Then Safeway takes over the old shops property and gives St. Pats their old
store property (I don’t know if there is any other consideration for that
property). If the deal goes bad while St. Pats holds the land they pay back
the $1.5 million bond and the city has the right to repurchase the property
for what St. Pats has into it. Once Safeway takes over they are responsible
for paying the bond if the tax increment does not cover it.

In Public Works we mostly discussed the request to extend the sewer service
area to pick up another 19 acres out by the Wye. I sensed some reluctance on
council to the idea of Missoula growing all the way to Frenchtown. It would
be nice if we could actually establish an outer boundary. The direction we
have been going out there is to offer contract sewer with delayed
annexation. So the subdivisions are being developed in the County
jurisdiction which generally has more lenient standards than the city. So
then when we eventually annex it all it won’t be up to city standards which
has been the cause of some expensive problems. I’m not sure how this one
will ultimately go.

Our last meeting was Committee of the Whole where we discussed council email
policy. Mr. Nugent had forwarded Bozeman’s policy which forbids
communication during the meetings. He then sent us an updated copy of their
ordinance which appeared to forbid any email discussions at any time. We
also looked at a California Attorney General ruling that said that any email
communication between a quorum of the council at any time was a violation
regardless of whether it was later posted to the web site. If this applied
to Montana it would mean the postings to the council group address would be
a problem.

The points of agreement were that we would not send emails during meetings
and that we would continue to meet and discuss issues with whoever we
wanted. Dick made a strong speech about how this is how business gets done
in congress and at the legislature. When people need to speak to each other
they speak to each other.

Thanks for your interest,

Bob Jaffe

Missoula City Council, Ward 3

<mailto:bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us> bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us


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