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Thursday, March 29, 2018

$0.50 per $100 spent in sales tax -> this is a transit tax plan we can do Nashville


Sales tax.  I was feeling uncomfortable about adding to our already high sales tax, due to the regressive nature, in order to fund transit but after learning a little more, I am in agreement that this is a decent plan.   'Sales tax is the kind of revenue source that could generate enough money for a transit plan the size of Nashville’s'.

The cost is low:  estimated to be an extra $0.50 per $100 spent.  I think most could do this comfortably.  Also, as opposed to tacking on to property taxes, an idea that has been suggested, this allows those who use Nashville (tourists, commuters, etc) to also help pay for transit.  We all then benefit.  



http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/why-nashvilles-transit-plan-relies-contentious-sales-tax-increase#stream/0

Why Nashville's Transit Plan Relies On A (Contentious) Sales Tax Increase

  6 HOURS AGO

At the center of Nashville’s transit proposal is an increase to four taxes. And the largest — in terms of how much money could be raised, and how many people would pay more — would be a higher local sales tax.
The battle lines over this part of the plan can be both intense and nuanced. Sales tax is the kind of revenue source that could generate enough money for a transit plan the size of Nashville’s. But critics say there could be better options — or balk at the idea that transit is worth Nashville pushing its rate into a tie for the highest in the country.
But we’ll start with the basics before plunging into the arguments.
As it stands, the Tennessee sales tax is 7 percent and Nashville charges an additional 2.25 percent.
The referendum asks voters to increase the local portion by half of a percentage point starting in July, and lasting through 2022. After then, a second increase would kick in, again adding another half of a percentage point. The local sales tax would then be 3.25 percent. Add that to the state's 7 percent and the sales tax within Davidson County would be 10.25 percent. (Plan pages 39-41.)
This is perhaps easier understood using real dollars:
If the referendum passes, then for the next four years, for every $100 spent on taxable goods, consumers would pay an extra 50 cents. Imagine a grocery bill ticking up from $100 to $100.50.
Starting in 2023, with a second increase, that would mean spending an extra $1 on every $100 of spending.
The amounts are marginal on each transaction. Once added together over the course of a year, the sales tax increase would likely cost more than $200 for a middle-income family.
Metro’s Case For Sales Tax
Metro has its reasons for building the proposal around sales tax.
One factor is the state’s IMPROVE Act, passed last year, allows cities to raise six types of taxes and to dedicate that additional money to transit. Of those options, sales tax yields the greatest amount of revenue.
That large funding potential, and its dependability over time, are reasons that many transit plans nationwide rely on sales taxes. (The other common choice is property taxes. More on that below.)
In dissecting the proposed taxes, Metro Chief Operating Officer Rich Riebeling also argues in favor of sales tax because it is paid in large part by people other than Davidson County residents.
“You shift a lot of the burden to our visitors and to actually some of the commuters who are causing some of the traffic problems,” he said. “It seemed to be a better way to broaden it … to include participation from non-Davidson County residents.”
The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce estimates that 47 percent of the local sales tax is derived from out-of-county residents.
Still, Riebeling says sales tax isn’t his “favorite” tax — because it is regressive, meaning that low and middle-income residents feel its impact the most.
To mitigate that, Metro would offer free and reduced fares, based on income. Officials say that by waiving the cost of a $52 monthly bus pass, they would be balancing the increased sales tax burden borne by residents in poverty.
A Funding Alternative?
Any proposed tax increase can draw resistance. But other than a simple anti-taxation argument, this transit plan has also drawn a critique about the type of tax.
Some are arguing that a property tax increase would be more effective and more palatable to voters.
One person crunching the numbers is Bill Howell. He's a longtime Tennessee tax policy lobbyist with the now-defunct Tennesseans for Fair Taxation, which fought unsuccessfully to shift Tennessee toward an income tax.
Similar to that battle, Howell is again crusading against the regressive sales tax, “which disproportionally impacts low-income families.”
“It is a nibble here, a nibble there. You don’t keep track of the total amount. So it doesn’t really rise into your consciousness,” Howell said. “A sales tax is, in my mind, a sneaky way to collect tax without people getting up in arms about it.”
His analysis (he runs a blog solely focused on this issue) suggests that Metro could make a smaller change to the property tax and still raise the same amount — with 95 percent of Davidson County families paying less in the process.
He also considers the property tax a superior source of funding because the tax base is larger, and the annual bill is more transparent: “It’s one lump sum, and you take notice.”
Howell, who says he is in favor of mass transit, recognizes that his alternative would first require the referendum to be defeated. His preferred scenario is for Metro to come back with a plan built around a property tax increase.
A key complicating factor would remain: that the state’s IMPROVE Act doesn’t permit a property tax increase to be dedicated to transit, which would also change Metro’s approach to issuing bonds (unless there was a change at the state level to add the property tax to a revised IMPROVE Act).
That hefty sticking point, and others, come quickly from Riebeling when asked to compare property and sales tax options.
Riebeling says property taxes are already in high demand, paying for schools and the police department and other city essentials.
“If we sort of rob from the property tax to support transit, it’s going to really create an impediment to us to fund the long-term needs of the government,” he said.
And while Howell argues there’s enough of a ceiling to raise the property tax and still fund the essentials, Riebeling pushes back.
“There’s only so high you can go on taxes before there’s going to be complete backlash,” he said.
This question — of whether the transit proposal is worth the added tax costs — goes to voters soon, with early voting beginning April 11.
Until then, Howell continues to frequent community meetings on transit, and Metro officials say that sales tax questions remain among the most often asked.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Sidewalk Variances - these are sidewalks that truly belong in your neighborhood by law


PLEASE email the BZA (BZA@Nashville.gov), your council member and the council at large (councilmembers@nashville.gov) and ask them to PLEASE STOP granting these sidewalk variances.  WE NEED EVERY PIECE OF SIDEWALK in Nashville just to begin to catch up.


***

From Walk Bike Nashville website, the sidewalk bill has a lot of pluses:
  • Nashville’s streets only have about 19% sidewalk coverage
  • At current municipal budgets and costs, it would take between 125 and 635 years to build 1,900 miles of the highest need sidewalks.
  • Among other policy improvements, this bill creates requirements for single and two-family houses to implement or pay in-lieu fees for much of the county where none existed before.


The Tennessean recently estimated that the Nations neighborhood has built 5,000 homes in the last six years alone. If we estimate these are narrow homes with 25 foot street frontages, and had this bill been in effect, it would have added over 26 miles of sidewalks, or about $12 million to the in-lieu fee. By comparison, in reality only around $1 million city-wide has been contributed to the in-lieu fee in the past 10 years prior to the bill implementation.





An example of a sidewalk variance requested.  You can see that this is in the 12th South area very near a community center and Sevier Park. 





Sidewalk Bill 493 passed and went into effect July 1, 2017.  If variance requests are routinely granted, it will be at a loss for our neighborhoods and the health & safety of our citizens.


***



3/15/2018 - 14 sidewalk variances requested, waiting for update on decision
3/1/2018 - 4 sidewalk variances requests, all 4 granted


1. CASE 2018-020 (Council District – 17)  -
Gary Wisniewski, appellant and O.I.C 1001 Summit Avenue, owner of the property located at 1001 C Summit Avenue, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the District, to construct two single family residences, without construction of updated sidewalk. Referred to the Board under Section 17.20.120.


2. CASE 2018-036 (Council District – 33) -

Gary Bull, appellant and Tandem Investments, LLC, owner of the property located at 1436 Heil Quaker Blvd., requesting variance from sidewalk requirements, but not eligible to pay into the sidewalk fund in the IR District, to construct a new warehouse. Referred to the Board under Section 17.20.120.


3. CASE 2018-038 (Council District – 20) Joshua Bronleewe, appellant and Joshua Bronleewe, owner of the property located at 905 47th Avenue North, requesting variance from sidewalk requirements in the R6 District, to construct a single family residence. Referred to the Board under Section 17.20.120.


4. CASE 2018-039 (Council District – 6) Vincent Morelli, appellant and Pantheon Development, LLC, owner of the property located at 114 Lindsley Park Dr., requesting variance from sidewalk requirements, requesting not to construct or contribute into the sidewalk fund in the R6 District, to construct two single family residences.


5. CASE 2018-042 (Council District – 21) Chad Robbins, appellant and Bemsee, LLC, owner of the property located at 503 Spruce Street, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the OR20 District, to construct a 1629 square foot second floor addition.


6. CASE 2018-048 (Council District – 15)
Josh Randolph, appellant and Josh Randolph, owner of the property located at 294 B Mc Gavock Pike, requesting variance from sidewalk requirements in the R20 District, to construct a second unit of a duplex.


7.CASE 2018-053 (Council District – 15)
Michael and Karen Angarole, appellants and owners of the property located at 2124 Wooddale Lane, requesting variance from sidewalk requirements in the R15 District, to construct single family residence.


8. CASE 2018-055 (Council District – 16)
Mike Donoho, appellant and International Church of foursquare gospel, owner of the property located at 2949 Nolensville Pike, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the CS District, to rehab an office building.


9. CASE 2018-056 (Council District – 05)
Invent Communities, appellant and Invent Communities, owner of the property located at 908 Lischey Ave, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the SP District, to allow construction of townhomes.


10. CASE 2018-059 (Council District – 19)
Willow Street Partners, appellant and owner of the property located at 65 Willow Street, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the OV-UZO, IR District, to construct a 4,000 square foot warehouse.


11. CASE 2018-060 (Council District – 22)
Brendan Boles, appellant and Michael D. Shmerling Partners, owner of the property located at 7025 Charlotte Pike, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the R40 District, for multifamily construction.

12. CASE 2018-062 (Council District – 20)
Jeff Parnell, appellant and Brian Chandler, owner of the property located at 525 Basswood Avenue, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the IWD District, for proposed boat storage facility.


13. CASE 2018-063 (Council District – 18)
Dewey Engineering, appellant and All Sevens, LLC, owner of the property located at 2909 12th Ave. S, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the OR20 District, to construct a yoga studio.

14. CASE 2018-064 (Council District – 24)

Dewey Engineering, appellant and EBO PROPERTIES, GP, owner of the property located at 3813 ELKINS AVE, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the RS5 District, to construct a single family residence.







Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Strongest Argument for NOT Allowing Sidewalk Variances in Areas That Are Not Highly Walked (Yet).

Take a look at NashvillePedestrianDeathRegistry.Org. 






The site provides a map of where pedestrians in Nashville have been hit by cars and died while walking.  By far, the strongest argument for building sidewalks in more remote areas is that this is where people, on foot, are killed. It amounts to a deadly mix of drivers not expecting pedestrians and lack of safe walking infrastructure. 


When people argue that sidewalk variances are fine because 'no one walks' in these areas, I would say, show them the map above for the burden of deaths is very clear.




***


To add on, particularly in light of Councilman Glovers request to allowing variances for religious institutes, I would like to present the case of Ayda Abdelsayed.







'Family and church members are asking for help after a Nashville woman was killed in a hit-and-run accident as she walked to church on April 8, 2017.


Ayda Abdelsayed, 55, was killed and the driver of the car did not stop Saturday morning.


Loved ones said Abdelsayed often walked to St. Pishoy Coptic Orthodox Church on Hamilton Road.


"She was a very dedicated parishioner," Father Theodore Ghaly said. "Every morning when we would have liturgy, she would be there."


He continued, "Often times she came with her grandchildren, so thank God that day she decided to come without them because it could have been much worse."


Metro police said Abdelsayed crossed Hamilton Church Road round 7:40 a.m. when a small black four door car struck her. The impact threw her on to the car's hood and windshield.


According to video of the wreck caught on church surveillance cameras, the driver then ran over Abdelsayed and kept driving'.






Unsolved hit & run of a woman walking to church April 2017


http://www.wate.com/news/tennessee/nashville-woman-killed-in-hit-and-run-accident-while-walking-to-church/792717324




2017Z-023TX-001
BL2017-938


SIDEWALKS and RELIGIOUS INSTITUTES



Council District 12 (Steve Glover)


Staff Reviewer: Carrie Logan


An ordinance amending Section 17.20.120 of the Metropolitan Code of Laws, pertaining to sidewalks, to establish an
exemption for religious institutions in the General Services District within prescribed settings, requested by


Councilmember Steve Glover, applicant.











Tuesday, March 13, 2018

14 Variances Requested to Avoid Building the Sidewalk --- These are sidewalks that belong in your neighborhoods!!!




D O C K E T



3/15/2018

1:00 P.M.

METROPOLITAN BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS

P O BOX 196300

METRO OFFICE BUILDING

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE 37219-6300

Meetings held in the Sonny West Conference Center
Howard Office Building, 700 2nd Avenue South






***


These are sidewalks that belong in your neighborhoods.  These pieces of sidewalks will begin the network of connectivity that will eventually lead to safe and comfortable walkability in Nashville.  Once a piece goes in, the remainder of the properties on that block are not supposed to granted variances.  See, this is how it begins.


BUT, the word seems to have gotten out that the BZA easily offers variances.  For each variance granted, Nashville gets further and further behind.


***

PLEASE email the BZA (BZA@Nashville.gov), your council member and the council at large (councilmembers@nashville.gov) and ask them to PLEASE STOP granting these sidewalk variances.  WE NEED EVERY PIECE OF SIDEWALK in Nashville just to begin to catch up.


***


1. CASE 2018-020 (Council District – 17)  -
Gary Wisniewski, appellant and O.I.C 1001 Summit Avenue, owner of the property located at 1001 C Summit Avenue, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the District, to construct two single family residences, without construction of updated sidewalk. Referred to the Board under Section 17.20.120.


2. CASE 2018-036 (Council District – 33) -

Gary Bull, appellant and Tandem Investments, LLC, owner of the property located at 1436 Heil Quaker Blvd., requesting variance from sidewalk requirements, but not eligible to pay into the sidewalk fund in the IR District, to construct a new warehouse. Referred to the Board under Section 17.20.120.


3. CASE 2018-038 (Council District – 20) Joshua Bronleewe, appellant and Joshua Bronleewe, owner of the property located at 905 47th Avenue North, requesting variance from sidewalk requirements in the R6 District, to construct a single family residence. Referred to the Board under Section 17.20.120.


4. CASE 2018-039 (Council District – 6) Vincent Morelli, appellant and Pantheon Development, LLC, owner of the property located at 114 Lindsley Park Dr., requesting variance from sidewalk requirements, requesting not to construct or contribute into the sidewalk fund in the R6 District, to construct two single family residences.


5. CASE 2018-042 (Council District – 21) Chad Robbins, appellant and Bemsee, LLC, owner of the property located at 503 Spruce Street, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the OR20 District, to construct a 1629 square foot second floor addition.


6. CASE 2018-048 (Council District – 15)
Josh Randolph, appellant and Josh Randolph, owner of the property located at 294 B Mc Gavock Pike, requesting variance from sidewalk requirements in the R20 District, to construct a second unit of a duplex.


7.CASE 2018-053 (Council District – 15)
Michael and Karen Angarole, appellants and owners of the property located at 2124 Wooddale Lane, requesting variance from sidewalk requirements in the R15 District, to construct single family residence.


8. CASE 2018-055 (Council District – 16)
Mike Donoho, appellant and International Church of foursquare gospel, owner of the property located at 2949 Nolensville Pike, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the CS District, to rehab an office building.






9. CASE 2018-056 (Council District – 05)
Invent Communities, appellant and Invent Communities, owner of the property located at 908 Lischey Ave, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the SP District, to allow construction of townhomes.


10. CASE 2018-059 (Council District – 19)
Willow Street Partners, appellant and owner of the property located at 65 Willow Street, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the OV-UZO, IR District, to construct a 4,000 square foot warehouse.


11. CASE 2018-060 (Council District – 22)
Brendan Boles, appellant and Michael D. Shmerling Partners, owner of the property located at 7025 Charlotte Pike, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the R40 District, for multifamily construction.

12. CASE 2018-062 (Council District – 20)
Jeff Parnell, appellant and Brian Chandler, owner of the property located at 525 Basswood Avenue, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the IWD District, for proposed boat storage facility.




13. CASE 2018-063 (Council District – 18)
Dewey Engineering, appellant and All Sevens, LLC, owner of the property located at 2909 12th Ave. S, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the OR20 District, to construct a yoga studio.

14. CASE 2018-064 (Council District – 24)

Dewey Engineering, appellant and EBO PROPERTIES, GP, owner of the property located at 3813 ELKINS AVE, requesting a variance from sidewalk requirements in the RS5 District, to construct a single family residence.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Every Parent is Dependent on the Benevolence of the Society Around Them to Take Care of Their Children AKA Slow Down!!!





'Every parent, wherever you live in the world, there are fears  that we have for our children.  What happens when we drop them off at school, what happens when they are making their way home, what happens when you are not with them.  And, this particular fear, you've mentioned is part of that and, in a way, every parent is sort of dependent on the benevolence of the society around them to take care of their children.  And, we get these reminders that maybe it isn't as benevolent as we would like but we are  sort of helpless in the face of that and, that for me, is a call to be engaged'.


- Writer Mohsin Hamid talking to Terry Gross on Fresh Air




A big part of my advocacy work around walkability and sidewalk creation in Nashville stems from a single encounter with my children.  When we first moved to the Greenhills area in 2013, we tried to walk to our local park, less than 1 mile away.




There was no sidewalk.  And,  no generosity from the drivers.  There literally was no safe place to be on foot.   We were clearly shown that Nashville did not yet have a benevolent spirit towards its pedestrians.
 
Learning to do on their own is a major milestone children must learn. Navigating on foot is a classic exercise in teaching this.  Please, when you see pedestrians, particularly children, slow down, give them space.







       

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Go for a Walk

In my inbox this morning from Ha.Le', a yoga studio on Hillsboro at Blair.


Another benefit...Children often fall asleep, too!

Good day to make sure there are no obstruction to walkers.  Trim bushes, pick up debris, make sure your trash cans are in the road, not blocking the right-of-way!




March 8, 2018  by Ha.Le'

Go for a Walk

 

Our bodies are made to move, and specifically, to walk. We are fundamentally designed to use our feet to move from one place to another. This means that, on a biological level, walking activates important physical processes and balances our bodies in important and sometimes profound ways.


The power of walking comes through the movement. Our circulation increases, which allows our tissues to be nourished by more blood and oxygen. This nourishment allows them to repair and heal minor stresses, often before we notice them. Walking also allows us to enter into a naturally rhythmic state, which helps our minds shift into light meditation and stress reduction mode with ease.


The motion of putting one foot in front of the other coordinates complex interactions between muscles, bones, and connective tissues. It is an ongoing conversation that keeps each part healthy and connected to the whole. Increasing regular walks allows the body to adjust muscles and movements back toward healthy alignment and engagement, correcting some gait issues caused by too much sitting and not enough moving.


The corrective power of walking is well documented. Studies have shown that walking eases joint pain and arthritis by lubricating the joints and strengthening the muscles that support them. It also boosts immune function, reducing sick days by 43%. It can improve posture by reestablishing natural movement patterns, and it provides all the benefits of weight-bearing exercise. Because walking requires your body to stand upright against gravity, it increases bone density and muscle tone.  


Walking is a powerful way to increase whole body health, and is especially effective when you go for walks outdoors. This brings you connection with nature, fresh air, and sunshine, helping to reduce stress levels and relax the body and mind. Walk more to increase your overall sense of well being.



Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Quick Call to Action! TODAY --- Exemption to Sidewalk Bill Being Requested for religious institutions - Take 5 minutes and write a brief 'NO' email to the Council!



Quick Call to Action!










Councilman Glover is proposing a bill, BL2017-938,  which would create an exemption for ALL CHURCHES in building sidewalks.

The ordinance requiring sidewalk construction was passed in April 2017 and took effect July 1st 2017. 

In my opinion, it’s too early to start exempting anyone before we know more about the impact of the law. It is estimated, that if we continue producing new sidewalks at our current rate, our network will not be completed until 1000 years!!!  We have a huge sidewalk deficit in Nashville, we are not in ADA compliance and exempting properties is not going to help create a safe and inviting landscape for our pedestrians.   
  
For the HEALTH & SAFETY OF ALL NASHVILLIANS:

PLEASE take 5 minutes and write to the Council at councilmembers@nashville.gov.  Let them know that you oppose Bill BL2017-938.   





Per Councilperson Angie Henderson:


Our religious institutions are active community centers.


Nashvillians should be able to safely #walktoworship if they live or work nearby, in the same way that we encourage families to #walktoschool. Or walk from worship or related activities to a nearby restaurant, store, or park. Religious institutions build community, and they should be connected to their surrounding communities. Let’s not start undermining our new sidewalk legislation, passed last April and effective since July 1. #Nashville is already 60 years behind on sidewalks. Streets in the General Services District (GSD) are some of our city’s most dangerous for people on foot. We must plan and build for the future now and stop saying: “nobody walks there, so we don’t need sidewalks.” That kind of thinking is what got us into the unwalkable, unsafe mess we are in today.


The Planning Commission resoundingly recommended DISAPPROVAL of this bill in a vote of 9 to 1.


Please send an email to the Council at councilmembers@nashville.gov to express your opposition to BL2017-938 too.


Thank you!



Prior post on this issue