City Council Study Session 8 August 2017 – Town Hall, Incentives and Sandwich Boards

City Council Study Session                  8 August 2017                      Citizen Minutes

Telephone Town Hall

Kelli Narde, Director of Communications, informed the council that the telephone town hall has been scheduled for September 20, 2017. It will be held at the Falls Event Center. There will be people in the audience and people watching and able to participate by phone. Mark Relph, city manager, will screen the calls. Kelli said it is exciting and terrifying at the same time. It will come with a cost of about $10,000.

Sewer Utility Status and Financial Plan Update

A report was provided to council about the future financial needs of the sewer treatment plant. There will not be a rate increase next year and future increases are projected to be under 2% per year through 2022. We are only using 50% of our capacity.   There is a cash balance of $25,000,000.

Economic Incentives

Denise Stephens, Economic Development Director, asked the council if the city should adopt an Economic Incentive Policy. Bill Hopping suggested that we use incentives to steer a developer from the “highest and best use” of the property and suggested that we not use them as standards but as a cultural impact. Phil Cernanec said a cultural change is more difficult and not economically sustainable. Everyone wants open space and parks but we can’t do that. The evaluation needs a good understanding of economic impacts. The character of the neighborhoods is important but how do we deal with revitalization? Housing should be considered and we do not currently have a housing plan.

Doug Clark recognized that if we are going to give away tax dollars we should have a policy but he did not see why they were discussing incentives.   Stephens said Littleton is a place of interest and right now they have not had to use incentives but if things change and we are in a redevelopment cycle we may have reason to use incentives.

Clark said we have had an economic policy in Littleton for 40 years that did not use incentives. (Clark is referring to Economic Gardening that went by the way side shortly after Michael Penny was hired. It is a much lauded approach to economic vitality that originated in Littleton but Chris Gibbons (the man behind the Economic Gardening plan) is no longer with the city.)   King Soopers and Breckenridge Brewery did not get their incentives until after they had their projects approved.

Stephens said it would be better to have a plan with stringent requirements than not to have a policy in place.

Hopping said that a city that can chose the type of development they want and can mildly incentivize the development making the city better.   Stephens said they would not advertise the fact that the city offers incentives but if it happens and we are asked we have a response.

Randy Young, acting city manager, asked the council if there was consensus to do incentives as there was no reason to go on with the discussion. Peggy Cole said someone can come and request an incentive but that doesn’t mean they will get it. Littleton is desirable! Bruce Beckman asked if the council was in favor of going forward. Appeared that Clark was the only one that had a strong objection to using the taxpayer’s money to incentivize development so the conversation continued.

Jerry Valdes asked if it was possible to have a policy then not use it? Steve Kemp, city attorney, said yes.   Beckman said it was a professional approach to development to have a policy in place but he can see reasons not to do it but if a developer does ask we have an answer. Kemp said if the council codifies the policy council will make the final decision.

Debbie Brinkman, who was in favor of incentives, said we could set the bar high. It was time for Littleton to grow up and participate – it is just part of the new world. We need a fair way to evaluate requests.

 Portable Signs for Zero Lot Merchants

This is a fancy way to introduce the subject of the downtown merchants being allowed to use sandwich boards in front of their shops to advertise their business. Randy Young asked if there was interest in this subject.   Phil Cernanec said there was supposed to be a study on the impact of sales done by the merchants and he did not see the report. Hopping said it was a hot issue for the merchants – they can’t put a number on sales that don’t happen. But some of the merchants play with it and when they put out their notices they see a significant difference. The displays bring customers into their shops.

Stephens said they tried to eliminate clutter when the sidewalk signs were outlawed. However, merchants feel that the signs are critical to being noticed. Staff was suggesting that the merchants in a zero lot line situation display their outdoor signs with certain restrictions.

Done by permit

The sidewalk is still ADA compliant

The city can set the style and restrict the placement of the signs.

And merchants have liability coverage

Brinkman said she was deathly sick of this issue – it never stops. She did not think the sandwich board signs add to the safety and mobility of downtown. She said the merchants are important to the economy and the vitality of downtown and she wants to support them and would like them to understand that they are not putting the signs on their property but on the city’s property. She thinks the signs add to the conflict and chaos of downtown for the aging community, those in wheelchairs, young families with kids that wander and don’t look where they are going, strollers, dogs, and bikes. She wanted to restrict them to doing something that is safe – we are responsible for the safety. She did not want to regulate the style of the signs but the number of signs and the size. We don’t need bunches of signs. We need to tell them where they can be and they can only be out during the operating hours of the stores. The core issue is safety.

Cernanec agreed with Brinkman. He thought one sign per building should be the limit. He also wants it to be self-policing by the merchants association.

Valdes said he hasn’t seen people tripping and we have always had older people in the community. The merchants needed this in 2015 and they need it now. Let’s get out of the way.

Kemp said he had heard enough to come up with something more simplified. He would address the ADA issue, the liability concern, content can’t be regulated but we can regulate the size and staff can come up with a simplified permitting process.

Cole wanted the signs to be removed on festival days.

Budget meetings will be Sept. 11, 12, and 13.

 

 

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City Council Study Session – 9 May 2017

City Council Study Session                        9 May 2017.           Citizen Minutes

Colorado Quarterly Census of Employment (QECW) Rates Database – The QCEW is a federal program that reports the number of employees and wages for all that pay into the unemployment insurance system representing about 97% of those employed.  The data would be used to help identify the number of people that live and work in Littleton, how many work in Littleton but live elsewhere, and other data collection and tabulation.  The cost is $230 per year.

Budget Update – Tiffany Hooten, Finance Director, provided the council with an update on budget.  There is a TABOR excess.  An excess requires the money be refunded to the taxpayers or for the taxpayers to approve the retention of the excess.   Continue reading

City Council Regular Meeting – 2 May 2017 – City Manager Contract Negotiation??

City Council Regular Meeting                       2 May 2017                    Citizen Minutes

Public Comment

Kyle Schlachter agreed with Doug Clark that Mark Relph would be a great city manager but he did not agree with going around the process to circumvent the public’s will to select the city manager.  He thought it spoke to the public trust and the trust of future applicants if the process is circumvented.  If Mark Relph does not want to go through a competitive process will he not stick his neck out for residents?

Don Bruns applauded the excellent rationale used in last week’s study session as being solid and well reasoned.  He referenced Relph’s professional integrity, his good understanding of the city manager’s role and the council’s role and his comfort dealing with citizens with differing views.  Relph knows the players and recognizes the problems and is even-handed with a welcome measure of humility.  He hoped that council would act in the best interest of the citizens by appointing Mark Relph as city manager. Continue reading

City Council Study Session 28 March 2017

City Council Study Session                28 March 2017                   Citizen Minutes

Review of associate Judges Currier and Katzman

Judge Feldman told the council that the two judges were doing a wonderful job and they were available when needed and he strongly recommended their reappointment.  (We have one full time Judge – Judge Feldman.  There are times when he needs a judge to step in for him during an absence.  Both Judge Currier and Judge Katzman fulfill that need.)  Judge Feldman said that he was concerned about some current legislation that would require people in custody to have a lawyer present at their first appearance.  Continue reading

City Council Regular Meeting 2/7/2017 – Littleton Crossing

City Council Regular Meeting         7 February 2017                Citizen Minutes

Debbie Brinkman was absent.

Public Comment Continue reading

Low Income Housing in the Heart of Downtown Littleton – Right or Wrong?

Below is a report from Deanna Cook who is leading a group of citizens opposed to the granting of $12,000,000 of tax credits to Summit to build a low income housing project in downtown Littleton.  Colorado Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) attended the city council study session to explain their process for awarding tax credits to developers to build low-income housing.  During the course of the meeting Doug Clark, who had looked into the rezoning history of the property made a startling revelation…….was the property rezoned illegally?  Sure looks like it.  Oh, the legacy of Michael Penny………..  Please read.
From Deanna Cook – Thank all of you who attended last night’s City Council Study Session with CHFA.  For those of you who didn’t make it, I strongly encourage you to view the one-hour video on the City’s website.  It is highly informational – and highly concerning.  (http://littleton.ompnetwork.org/shows/city-council-study-session-01242017?iframe_mode=true
 
In a nutshell:

Continue reading

City Council Study Session 01.10.2017

City Council Study Session   01.12.2017

Citizen Minutes

There were four agenda items.

 1.  Judge Feldman’s Review. Continue reading