The San Angelo City Council met Tuesday to discuss a number of topics. Among the items on the agenda was the controversial proposed short-term rentals ordinance, which was brought before Council for its first reading.
Jon James, City Planning and Development Director, presented to Council items that he said were a compromise between the City and a short-term rental representative. Among recommended changes to the proposed ordinance presented by James were:
- There must be an owner or property manager that resides within the county to deal with any issues that arise;
- A notice must be placed within the property with contact information for that person, as well as a posting of the rules of the STR;
- No camping will be allowed, with the exception of pup tents for children staying with renters;
- No STR on City-owned leased lots;
- No bed and breakfasts or STRs on streets less than 30 feet in width (because of issues with parking);
- No STR within 500 feet of another STR (those two requirements do not apply to existing, registered STRs); and
- Conditional use approval must be renewed after one year and then every two years thereafter.
Councilman Single Member District 1 Bill Richardson said he did not feel that all voices were represented in the STR discussion with City officials. SMD 6 Councilwoman Charlotte Farmer agreed, saying the Lake Nasworthy HOA was not represented.
When it was time for Councilman SMD 3 Harry Thomas to make comment, he read a statement saying he has been threatened by constituents, who said they knew how he was going to vote and said if he did, it would be “committing political suicide.” To that, Thomas replied with a challenge to voters to invest the time and money to run for a Council seat themselves.
The one consensus of the Council was, they all want to move on from the STR debate that has taken what they describe as countless hours on by City staff and more than five public hours for Council, not including Tuesday’s meeting.
After at least of dozen citizens who spoke during public comment, either in agreement or disagreement with the proposed ordinance, the first reading was approved with a 4-3 vote with Bill Richardson, Charlotte Farmer and Lane Carter opposed.
Lane Carter, SMD 5, mentioned a referendum committee can be formed to take the matter to a public vote, should Council approve the STR ordinance. City Clerk Bryan Kendrick laid out the requirements for the item to be placed on an upcoming ballot for vote.
To place an item on the ballot, the referendum committee would have 60 days from the date of final approval from Council to gather signatures requesting the ballot item. The amount of signatures required to make this into a ballot item would be 25 percent of registered voters, which is approximately 5,500. If within the 60 days, that amount of signatures are collected, the committee would then return the signed petitions to Kendrick, so that his office can verify and call the election. It should be noted that Carter mentioned that such an election would be at a cost to the taxpayers of San Angelo.
In other Council news:
Council heard from Parks and Recreation Director Carl White, regarding the $1.5 million request from the ½ cent sales tax funds for parks improvement. Proposed improvements include $275,000 for Brentwood parks, $175,000 for Unidad Park ($350,000 is needed for improvements, the remainder of which would be funded by a matching grant) and $149,500 for Brown/Santa Rita Park.
Mayor Dwain Morrison asked White about bathroom facilities for MLK Park, saying those improvements were promised long ago. He asked that $50,000 be reallocated to MLK Park for the facilities residents have been asking for more than 10 years to be improved.
Morrison said he would vote to approve if the $50,000 aside for MLK. Rick Weise, Assistant City Manager, said he did not disagree with Morrison, however, he asked Council that before they shift funds, to try not to set City staff up for failure should the funds not be enough to complete the task.
According to White, the improvements to MLK were at one time planned, however, funding was pulled to pay for streets.
The motion was approved with a 4-3 vote with Morrison, Lucy Gonzales and Marty Self opposed.
Council also approved the following items:
- Authorized a resolution by COSADC approving an economic development (BREP) incentive to Principal LED, LLC, in an amount up to $350,000 per year and authorizing the board president to negotiate and execute a performance agreement. Under the agreement, incentives will be provided for Principal, a local business, which currently employs 51 people. With the agreement, 15-50 additional jobs would be created in a 10-year time frame.
- Owners of freight containers, that are already legally permitted within the City will be grandfathered in, where they will not have to re-apply for permitting for their properties.
- The purchase of asphalt paving and recycling equipment, a plating machine, from Angelo Benedetti, Inc., in the amount of $1.2 million, budgeted in Fiscal Year 2017.
- Authorized the City Manager to negotiate and execute a second amendment to the “Agreement for the Management and Operation of Old Town at El Paseo de Santa Angela” to increase the managed area to allow for the construction of a small chapel designed by Oscar Ruffini and to negotiate and execute all related documents
- Authorized the issuance of one or more series of City of San Angelo, Texas, waterworks and sewer system revenue bonds; delegating the authority to certain City officials to execute certain documents relating to the sale of the bonds; establishing procedures for the sale and delivery of the bonds; providing for the security for and payment of such bonds; and authorizing and enacting other matters and provisions relating to the subject.
- No rebates of water fees will be given to water customers.
In December 2015, City Council adopted a 5-year water and wastewater rate plan to provide the Utility with 3 critical needs.Return the Utility to financial sustainabilityAllow the Utility to more aggressively reinvest in infrastructureAllow the financial wherewithal to develop other water sourcesAs a part of the plan, goals were established for the water and wastewater fund balances to help meet the targetsstated above, as well as a 75-day operating expense fund balance.
City staffers said there is not funding to provide rebates to water customers.
The next regular Council meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 17, 2017.