The work session was very interesting today. Mike Bass presented a hybrid code modification for multi family dwellings. The council pretty much adopted the concept, with two exceptions. 1) Landscaping and 2) the ability to recoup costs for excessive calls to service.
Landscaping, is suppose to meet a certain standard if the complex was built after 1991. Most of our apartments that are in disrepair were built before 1991 and therefore have no requirements to maintain a certain level of appearance. Most apartments that are having financial problems are quickly identified by the condition of the grounds. They will not put in money to maintain a sprinkler system, nor will they spend the money for water. Therefore the vegetation dies, and there is no money to replace it. Code needs a mechanism to make the owner maintain or replace the damage to the complex.
Excessive Calls to Service, Chief Crowson told me that there was an individual that would call the Fire Department and then when they arrived he said that he wanted a pizza. Lana Wolf told of ONE apartment complex that had over 53% of all calls to service in East Arlington. Forest Hills Apartments had over 600 calls in six months. Legal told us that recovery of funds for excessive calls was a violation of the 14th amendment. I don't believe that for 1 second. I asked what Constitution was he using? If it violated the 14th amendment then why is L.A., St. Paul, Norfolk, Fayetteville, and Raleigh successful in establishing such a program. The Mayor, of course, was against the idea. But I received support from Lana Wolf and some others. I will try to implement this in committee.
Of note also was a discussion on Abrams St.concerning the number of lanes that will go through downtown. All scenarios were considered. Five lanes (current config.) down to Two lanes with a more eclectic downtown experience. It was noted that if the two lane option was chosen the delay to get through downtown would be over 6 and a half minutes. Considering that there are only two main east/west arteries in Arlington, (Division & Abrams) and the population/traffic will only increase I think that the two lanes option is unacceptable to my way of thinking. The city is spending a great deal of money to improve Abrams east to the city limit. To neck it down in the downtown area will more than likely drive away business rather than increase foot traffic.
Lastly Sheri Capehart suggested that the Council have a special meeting to reconsider the makeup and investment strategy of the Arlington Tomorrow Fund. I suggested that any appointments be tabled until after that meeting and the Mayor about blew a gasket. He has submitted a name to sit on that Committee and even if there is no place for the nominee to serve he refused to table/delay the appointment. There is close to 100 million dollars in that fund, and it is likely that the entire format of the Committee might change.