City Council Study Session 5.10.2016

City Council Study Session         5/10/2016                   Citizen Minutes         Jerry Valdes absent.

 Sign Code Update

I have requested the power point that was used for this council update. When I receive I will post.  The city attorney presented to the council saying that the sign code needed updating and modernizing after a Supreme Court Ruling. (Although this subject was not discussed I have been told that another reason for the update is that the signs in downtown Littleton, that have been erected but the slots have not been filled, are in violation of the city’s own sign code. What I can find that may apply is the third party signs – they are not allowed.) There was a brief discussion about city placed signs under the heading of way finding. City manager, Michael Penny, said that once the way finding signs are installed the sidewalk signs placed outside of businesses will go away – they are currently illegal. Bill Hopping reminded that the issue of the signs out in front of stores is about safety. The first reading for the new sign code will be presented to council in three weeks.

Board Packets

If you remember new council member Doug Clark asked for his council packets to be printed for him just as they were for all the years prior that he has served on council.   He was denied the paper packets and has had to go to the city center each week and make a request for a printed packet. (Council members have been given Ipads for their use as councilmembers enabling them to receive their packets electronically. Clark has not accepted one.) Clark was also refused, by a majority of the council, when he asked for his emails sent to the Littletongov.org address to be forwarded to his personal email. As a result Clark was not receiving any of the email notices sent to all council members. (The emails are now being forwarded to Clark’s personal email address.)

Michael Penny said, from the staff’s perspective, they were comfortable providing a paper packet for Clark.  Bruce Beckman has said he has made a request for some plans to be printed – an 11×17 drawing on an Ipad really doesn’t work. He respected the goal of being paperless but thought the city council and staff should bend over backwards to make city council more effective.

Phil Cernanec asked if this change would impact the other boards and commissions? Peggy Cole thought it was important for all council members to get their information in the format most comfortable for them.

Penny will make the necessary changes to amend the appropriate documents.

Video Minutes

Penny said due to a conversation with Clark he would like to ask council to create an ordinance that would add action minutes (essentially the Journal that is required by Charter) for council to approve when the video is certified. The videos will be maintained and available if ever needed in the courts. This would require the city council members to read the minutes and approve the legal actions taken.

Penny said the Charter requires the Journal and it is a document that the city clerk maintains. At one point in time it was provided to the council and then stopped. They have been brought back since Clark’s election and they are not required to be approved.

Beckman acknowledged that there are times that the recordings are not audible but there are a couple of fail-safes.

Penny said they have never had a recording problem – Comcast has had problems…

Cernanec asked if the clerk certifies the video minutes and if there’s a description in the Journal, which would be the governing document? He preferred to have only one certified item.

The city attorney said the video would be the official minutes.

Clark said the Charter requires written minutes and that council can only act by motion, resolution or ordinance and the Journal is the official record. Our written Journal is not very accurate so we have a video and written minutes that don’t match up. There needs to be one item that delineates council action and that needs to be what the council approves. We functioned with video and written minutes for decades. If the written minutes are the official action it makes council careful about what they are approving. And that’s what is required in the Charter.

Cole preferred the Journal to be the official record.

Clark said when motions are in writing they have to be specific. It is a more definitive action. Debbie Brinkman said the Journal states the motion and vote – that’s what it should say. If there’s an error we can find the video minutes for verification – that’s exactly what I want…the information on how and why we voted. She thought it was very easy to use the video – the Journal won’t tell her what she said and she was not in favor of reversing.

Bill Hopping did not have a problem with the Journal being enhanced – it would force them to go back and read. He thought blending the two would set up the possibility of conflicts.

Cernanec thought the council’s approval of the clerk’s Journal would insert them into the administrative process that they should not be involved in at all.

Penny said the Action Minutes would be the cliff notes version of the meeting. If there are inaccuracies that’s an administrative issue – they should never come back to council unless they are exact and accurate.

Beckman said no matter what comes back to the council he wanted to see the Journals so they can check for accuracy. Penny said the Charter does not require the council to approve the Journal.

Hopping said the video is so much more accurate – trials are won and lost by them. Clark said a written record that does not match the video is worse than not having a written record. As an example, the 1/19/2016 there were two different motions that were made that did not appear in the Journal and the Broadway and Littleton Blvd urban renewal plans were modified to include tax increment financing and that is not reflected in the Journal.

Brinkman said if the written record contains errors…can’t we move on? We have talked about this before. We have important issues – we need to move on – I am exhausted talking about this.

Penny said it was part of his responsibility to make sure the Journal is accurate – we have a quality control issue. Beckman said he was not comfortable with the Journal being inaccurate. Penny said that does not take an ordinance – we will address it. If the council is not interested in an ordinance coming back to them…Clark wants the official minutes to be written and perhaps Cole too.

City Manager Action Items

There was a handout with his action items listed. They are:

  1. Develop multidisciplinary groups to evaluate transportation, housing, and economic development. The groups should include 2 council members, city staff, city stakeholders and others with the technical expertise familiar with Littleton and its character to become informed about the three issues and how they may impact the quality of life in Littleton over the next 20 years. This includes a specific review of arterial and secondary streets to develop predictable travel times.
  1. Complete sub-area plans for the Santa Fe, Littleton Blvd., and Broadway corridors.
  1. Evaluate, develop, and implement an outreach plan to businesses to ensure government is aligned with business needs and fosters public private partnerships.
  1. Continue an update of the city’s development, land use and zoning codes to ensure ability to implement community goals.\
  1. Evaluate current city financial reserve levels in all existing funds and make recommendations for change if necessary.”

Penny said Denise Stevens is working on the business needs and the public private partnerships. Beckman expressed his concern about the infrastructure and repairs needed. There will be a study session on May 20 to talk about the 20-year capital needs and how to address them. (Code for tax increase, which has been talked about a number of times in passing.) Hopping wanted to add an item – knowing that there are a lot of plans he wanted an update on all of them and “trigger points” identified so they know they are following the plans. Brinkman wanted an inventory of the plans. Penny mentioned the South Platte Working Group plans, Open Space plan, the Complan, the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plans, Capital Plan etc. He said they do not do a good job of tying actions back to the plans.

Clark said he was perplexed by goal #1. Penny said that council members have been assigned to work in the three different areas (transportation, housing and economic development) and the focus is RTD and the Santa Fe Corridor. They are not public meetings. When there are milestones they can be updated along with the council but we are a long way from policy in all three areas.

Brinkman said Littleton has transportation and housing issues – she can’t find a place to live. Clark thought the council should be the body to ratify the appointments to the different groups – they should not be appointed by the city manager. Clark went on to list a few of the goals he would like to see added.

Clark suggested changing the B2 zoning residency requirements. After a little push back Clark said they do not have short-term goals – just long-term generic goals. Some of the items are beyond the scope of the city manager. We do not have short-term goals for the council and we have a number of issues in front of us. The city manager’s to do list should come from council’s to do list.

Hopping agreed that they spend time looking at the small – it is not the big picture. I would like to have all ground floor retail on Main Street. We need to be more visionary. We have got to understand what the citizens want.

  • Clark said a number of the B2 areas are being transformed into multi residential when it was created to accommodate some business owners that wanted to live on the second floor above their business. The B2 zoning is not being used that way now.
  • Clark thought there were issues with the Rumor Guard – what is the right participation level for the city to have in social media?
  • Maintenance was another one of his issues.
  • The Board of Adjustment – do we want the citizens of Littleton to be able to appeal a decision?
  • He wants all platting to go through the planning board and city council for approval.
  • He wants an administrative review of the approval of The Grove. He thought the voters per the Charter requirement should ratify the Santa Fe urban renewal area modification that council approved.
  • He wants an accurate source on the Open Meetings Law and Charter requirements to speak to the council.
  • He wants all council training sessions to be open to the public.
  • He would like for it to be spelled out – who makes decisions and when does city council get involved.
  • He questioned the change in fire services at TrailMark and the changes made in the summer cleanup and the economic qualifications now required…. these should be council decisions and not the city managers.

Beckman agreed to get all of Clark’s issues on the list. Hopping said he was not prepared to go into the specific issues saying that they all should participate by generating their own ideas. Cole thought that a lot of them were process issues that they should address with the open meetings law being one of the first.

Penny asked all council members to come forward with their lists. Clark thought a chart with slots would be nice so they all know the schedule.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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