[MissoulaGov] Committee update 11-30-11

Bob Jaffe BJaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us
Wed Nov 30 23:47:15 MST 2011

Today started out pretty tame. We bought some vehicles in Public Works, we did some pre-public hearings in PAZ. The first of the hearings we will have this Monday is on accessory structures. The proposal is to make it so you no longer need any kind of permit for accessory structures under 120 square feet. You still can’t put them in the front or street side yard but you can put them in the back. They can be placed right up to the property line and there is no longer the ten foot minimum distance requirement to the primary structure.
The second hearing is about road standards. The discussion was about lane widths and dead ends and short courts. The planning board recommendation is to make short courts and dead ends only permissible with a variance. In general we want to see connectivity and a grid system where possible. With infill, it is not always possible. I’m not sure we need to go so far as to require a variance for situations where a connection can’t be made. I’m also not offended by short courts. They are basically a glorified shared driveway. They appear to be a good tool for fitting more houses onto a parcel. I know Jon Wilkins doesn’t like them because he wants everyone to have more parking, but otherwise I’m not sure what the big fuss is.
During lunch we had another sidewalk committee meeting. The committee voted to adopt the “Health Care” model I proposed based on Pam’s concept from a few meetings ago. Items left to discuss for next week are:

· How or if to structure a rebate for folks paying existing assessments

· What don’t we include? New construction, new subdivisions, more than X units?

· How big should the overall program be? The same, bigger, much bigger?
After lunch in A&F things kind of went off the rails. A couple of weeks ago Lyn had asked that we pull an item from our claims list for our $1200 annual membership to an organization called ICLEI because some of her constituents were concerned about this and wanted a chance to comment. ICLEI is the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. It is an international organization that works to reduce global warming through local policy efforts. We have been a member for about 15 years. We agreed to hold the item and it came up in committee today.
It turns out that Lyn’s constituents are primarily really angry people from the Bitterroot. ICLEI is connected to the United Nations effort to promote sustainable development that has the paranoia inducing moniker “Agenda 21”. The conspiracy theorists read Agenda 21 to mean that all people will be removed from their energy wasting ranchettes and made to live in dense “Population zones.” Their pickups will be outlawed and everyone will be forced to ride bicycles. Only non-humans (wildlife) will be permitted to exist outside the dense cities. All those who support concepts like smart growth are treasonous pawns of the UN plot to eliminate American sovereignty and make us all slaves.
One after another of these folks from the Bitterroot came up to the mic and spewed this insanity on us. In all fairness there were a couple of folks from Missoula. Kandi was in rare form. She definitely was not sugar coating it for us. In fact, I felt a bit threatened. I can’t remember a meeting where I felt so much anger and seething violence in the room. Eventually the police were summoned by one of the staff members because there was clearly a potential for things to get out of hand. I’m pretty sure these are exactly the sort of people who shoot public officials.
Intimidation tactics, shouting out of order, and various references to what God does and doesn’t approve of may be the norm at public meetings in the Bitterroot but it is definitely not OK in Missoula. I asked Lyn if this out of town mob was in fact the constituency she was concerned about and she told me something along the lines that they have the same right to be concerned about Missoula policy as the folks who live here. She also chastised me for not wanting to hear the information they had to present. Jason pointed out that not all information was equal. Some is backed by peer reviewed science and some is shall we say less congruent with commonly agreed upon facts. Apparently some folks don’t have that filter.
Our next agenda item was to speak to the investors who are proposing to build a $40,000,000 hotel on the riverfront triangle site. Fortunately the folks from MRA had the sense to ask them to wait in the conference room so they didn’t have to witness the circus that preceded them. The motion passed was to provide them a one year period to have exclusive negotiating rights to enter into a development agreement with the city. The point of contention was around what role the newly forming Community Benefits Coalition would play. This is a coalition of some of the labor and enviro entities in town. They want to be able to negotiate with the developers for some standards to justify the desired level of public support for the project.
The CBC folks really wanted us to withhold the exclusivity agreement until they were able to negotiate with the developers but we weren’t really interested in that. I’m hoping we can come up with something by Monday that gives them some kind of seat at the table during the negotiation period. The development group is asking for a lot of public money in this project so I think it is reasonable for them to make some concessions for our community values and concerns. Based on their presentation I’m pretty sure we are all sharing a mostly common vision for this project. I’m pretty optimistic they can all work together to come up with something we are all happy with.
Thanks for your interest,
Bob Jaffe
Missoula City Council Ward 3
1225 South 2nd West
Missoula, MT 59801
(406) 880-2052

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