City Council Study Session – 10 April 2018 (Kendig Keast, Homeless, Quasi-Judicial)

City Council Study Session                 10 April 2018.            Citizen Minutes

Pat Driscoll was absent
a)  ID# 18-124 Study session on community visioning process with Kendig Keast –

Vision to Comprehensive Plan – Preliminary Scope and Outline

Gary Mitchell and Meredith Dang from Kendig Keast talked about what they will do to help Littleton with the “visioning” to Complan and Code update.  They will work with staff and others on a timeline and activities including a Speaker Series.  They will go to where the people are and they will constantly be looking to see whom they have not reached.  They have read lots of documents and are familiar with the 2014 attempt at a Complan. It is time to step back and see what has changed.  How you put words on a page is important.  Example – if a safe community is the goal it may mean putting up a secure perimeter around the city to stay safe, or it could mean to some that they no longer want community events as it brings in the wrong element.  People come from all different perspectives.

Carol Fey said the word vision should be defined.  Peggy Cole asked how it is possible to ensure economic sustainability when things go in cycles.

Kendig Keast will try different approaches to reach different audiences.  Jerry Valdes said they have done a lot and have not gotten “there” yet.   Mitchell said it is usually not the document that changes but the players in the process. Sometimes rapid growth causes issues.

Karina Elrod asked how they would work through a plan that might not be economically sustainable. Choices might be different if the economics were part of the decisions.  She said there’s been push back with some of the pervious documents – people said that is not what I said and she does not want to get to the end of this process and have people say that is not what I said.

Mitchell said they would talk about the needs and wants – the needs first.  They will ask what is just right, what needs work and what do we wish we had.  Dang said they looked at Golden’s plan and they are updating – they could not afford the original vision and they are going back and discussing what they can afford. Mitchell described a process where colors were used to identify what gets put aside (reds), are they holding up the items identified as yellows and greens?

There will be reports from Kendig Keast along the way to update council on progress.  Debbie Brinkman asked what is the role of Planning Commission and Mitchell said they are the ones to take the plan forward – they are the keepers of the document.

Mark Relph said Kendig Keast’s experience in community engagement is broad and this is all about the public process – they have very unique talents.  They are known for their approach to Community Character and they have done a lot of work nation wide.

b)  ID# 18-121 Homeless Impact Along the South Platte River – Urban Camping and its impact on our drainages SSPRD Littleton Homeless Presentation

A Sgt from the Englewood Police Department spoke about their approach to the homeless along the river. Homelessness is becoming more and more evident along the river.  There are areas where it is hard to detect the “urban camps” that have cropped up. Their goal is not to arrest but to connect the homeless with community resources that can assist.  However there are many homeless that are happy with their lifestyle.  Englewood teamed up with Urban Drainage and they evicted the urban campers in order for agencies to go in to restore the area.  The pictures that were shown were eye openers – the amount of trash, bio hazardous items, and stuff (tents, propane tanks, bicycles (there was a “bicycle repair shop” in one of the camps), human waste, and just plain junk). There were 21 camps.  They shut them down for about 2 weeks while they removed massive amounts of debris.

There’s an increase in calls for service in these areas.  There’s environmental degradation of the vegetation and erosion of the soil that ends up in the river as well as other things that reduce the water quality. Some of the things they are doing to prevent further damage to the river are:

  • Creative channel and trail design
  • Vegetation management to improve the flow and increase the sight distance providing more visibility to the area
  • Increase law enforcement and Ranger presence
  • Policy and Ordinance Changes
  • Local Partnerships to enhance and increase operations and maintenance
  • Local Partnerships to increase access to services
  • Address root causes via local policies

Andy Jennings, a South Suburban Ranger, says they do welfare checks and make sure the rules and regulations are known.

Doug Stephens, Littleton’s Police Chief, said the police and rangers can’t solve the problems – there are many homeless that do not want help.

Some reasons for the increase in homeless are:

Marijuana

Can’t afford rent

Just nowhere to go

Runaways, alcohol and drug abuse

Another issue is when the areas are cleaned up the possessions having to be stored. Stephens said Denver is renting warehouses to store for a period of time what they think someone might think is valuable creating a lot of expense and logistics.

c)  ID# 18-126 Discussion on concept rules for quasi-judicial proceedings by City Council, Boards, and Commissions

City Attorney, Steve Kemp, explained that the quasi-judicial boards are acting as a judge in their decisions.  The City Code has one section dedicated to quasi-judicial proceedings but there are no rules.  This is an attempt at providing the necessary rules.  He addressed:

  • Members can only consider the “record” (what was heard in the public hearing)
  • The parties are the applicant and the staff; the public has no standing but the they can weigh the credibility of their testimony
  • No ex-parte communication; the merits of the case cannot be discussed outside of the public hearing. If a member receives a text message they should transcribe it and forward to the city clerk for distribution to the whole body.

All the rules for quasi-judicial come into play once an application has been filed.  Staff will alert members when that occurs.

Brinkman said some cities swear in the applicants, staff and citizens prior to a hearing and asked council if they would like to do the same.  Kemp said it was not required but he thought it would make people think about what they will say.

Kyle Schlachter favored the idea, Elrod did not, Valdes did not and Fey was OK with the idea.  Not sure with Cole said – couldn’t hear her and she can’t be heard on the video.

If you have time you should watch the section on homeless – I think you will be shocked at what is happening.  The pictures were very surprising.  Here’s the link… https://littleton.ompnetwork.org/embed/sessions/26452/city-council-study-session-4-10-2018

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