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Welcome to my blog, which features frequent updates on local Takoma Park issues, including City Council meeting agendas, plus occasional commentary on national news and politics.

March 2, 2016 City Council Meeting Agenda

Dear Neighbors:

Here is a link to the agenda (including background information) for tomorrow's Takoma Park City Council meeting:  http://documents.takomaparkmd.gov.s3.amazonaws.com/government/city-council/agendas/2016/agenda-20160302.pdf.


We approved the updated Noise Ordinance and the ordinance relating to fees charged by landlords. I voted in favor of both.

We approved the non-binding statement on Council Priorities, with two amendments I proposed. The first one added more explicit language in the section entitled "A Livable Community For All" emphasizing a focus on programs that are aimed at assisting lower income and immigrant families, as well as families with members who have developmental disabilities. The second amendment clarified that our efforts to promote affordable housing should include both affordable rental options and affordable home ownership options.

Finally, with regard to the proposed ordinance banning plastic bags, a key point that emerged in our discussion was that the ordinance would have minimal impact on businesses in Old Town (where there is already no or little plastic bag use, or plastic bag use would be covered by the exemptions in the ordinance, as for example in the case of bulk Farmers Market purchases). However, the potential impact on businesses in the Takoma Crossroads area is unclear, and information on that point will be gathered before the matter is taken up again by the Council.

There will be two preliminary votes this week (with final votes to take place at a future City Council meeting): 

Vacant and Abandoned Property Registry Ordinance. I am generally supportive of the idea of keeping track of vacant homes and other buildings in the City. A key question for me is, once we gather the information, what action will the City take? I don't believe it is necessary to "solve" the problem of vacant properties in this ordinance (that will depend on the extent of the problem, which will not be known until we make progress on the registry). However, I think we ought to consider steps that can be taken (perhaps with the assistance of non-profit groups or neighborhood associations, as suggested by several residents) to improve conditions at individual vacant properties. I look forward to exploring this idea during the meeting on Wednesday.

The second preliminary vote will be on a non-controversial proposal to change from July 1 to December 31 the due date of the annual recycling report required to be submitted by multi-family (or apartment) buildings. This will synchronize the reports with the calendars for most multi-family buildings. I will vote in favor of the proposal.

The agenda for the Council meeting also includes three non-voting issues:

A City staff presentation on potential purchase of LED streetlights, which is expected to be a key component of our sustainability efforts (and is tied to our participating in the Georgetown Energy Challenge); a report on City sustainability efforts (primarily an update on the Georgetown Challenge); and a discussion of potential changes to City requirements related to parking of commercial vehicles on City streets.

I consider that last item to be an important one for us to address, though my preference is to do so as part of a more comprehensive look at parking issues in the City. In fact, a City parking study focused on Ward One, including Old Town, is in the early stages, so I am hopeful that we can incorporate some of the ideas that emerge from the commercial vehicle parking discussion into that broader review.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Peter Kovar, Takoma Park City Council, Ward One

March 9, 2016 City Council Meeting Agenda