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Council Recap – 09/19/22

Posted by Bonnie Limbird

Proclamations

Constitution Week proclamation

September 17, 2022 marks the two hundred and thirty-fifth anniversary of the drafting of the Constitution of the United States of America by the Constitutional Convention.

Recognition of Officers Sarah Magin and Marandah Scott

Chief Roberson completed the Oath of Office with PVPD Officer Marandah Scott now that she has completed all of her Academy & field training, and recognized PVPD Officer Sarah Magin with a promotion to Corporal*.

*Corporals are integral to the department with their primary responsibility being executive level functions supervising daily and special assignments among many, many other duties.

Public Participation

Prior to Council hearing from a variety of Prairie Village residents, Mayor Mikkelson addressed a number of recurring questions by residents during previous meetings. He addressed the pros and cons of increased property values (which are outpacing the increase of wages), the original design of PV (for blue collar, teacher, nurses, restaurant workers, as well as, affluent upper income residents), the trajectory of PV becoming less affordable over the last decade or so, being ground zero for the teardown-rebuild trend in JoCo, the implementation of the Neighborhood Design Guidelines (with a possible phase 3 in the works), and the options available to us as a Council and city of residents. One option is to “put our heads in the sand” and do nothing. That’s not an option we’re taking.

Mayor Mikkelson read some excerpts from the original Village Vision from 2007 (approved prior to the terms of ANY of the current sitting governing body):

  • Priority: “permit higher residential densities and mixed uses near existing commercial areas and along arterial roadways”
  • Goal: “encourage neighborhoods with unique character, strong property values, and quality housing options for families and individuals of a variety of ages and incomes”
  • Development Principle: “creating a range of housing choice, opportunities to create a range of housing types and price levels should be provided to bring people of diverse ages, races, and incomes into daily interaction.”
  • Recommendation: “create appropriate zoning districts to encourage redevelopment. A mix of land uses could include multi-family residential, attached single-family, townhomes, or a combination of all three.”
  • Diversity – “the zoning and code actions under housing provide additional suggestions on ways to increase diversity in the housing stock in order to attract a more diverse residential population.”
  • Housing –
    • “Housing options in terms of type, location, size, and price should meet the needs of the current residents and anticipate the needs of future residents.”
    • “Creating more housing options and more intergenerational neighborhoods is an important issue for Prairie Village who believe neighborhoods should be able to accommodate the young and old, families and individuals alike.”
    • “By providing a diverse array of housing options, a stronger intergenerational community can be realized. Housing affordability is also a concern.”
    • “Expanding the variety of housing products available at a wider range of price points can help address housing affordability concerns and provide more housing choices within Prairie Village.”
    • “Making the city’s housing stock more competitive with housing choices in other parts of the metro.”
    • “Allow a greater variety of housing types throughout Prairie Village.”
    • “Prairie Village should consider adopting zoning regulations that allow for more diverse housing that still fit the character of the community. Condominiums, attached housing such as townhomes, senior housing, and residential conversions of above-ground retail can help meet the housing needs of a broad range of residents.”
  • Recommendation on affordability: “consider developing incentive programs to encourage the provision of affordable housing options within new developments including offering incentives density bonuses or fee-exemptions to developers who make a certain percentage of their units affordable.”

So almost all (probably all) of the recommendations from the ad hoc Housing committee have their roots in the original Village Vision that VV2.0 opponents like to point out had record-breaking involvement from city residents.

Mayor Mikkelson also addressed the rumor that PV is the most dense city in JoCo. It is not the most dense city in the county (or even state of KS. According to 2020 JoCo data, PV is 5th in JoCo – # people divided by square miles). (As if that’s even an argument that’s relevant. If homeowners really want less density, they’d move to the exurbs. Residents live here precisely BECAUSE of our close proximity to so many amenities) At it’s peak, PV had 28k+ residents (1978?). We’re currently 20% below that peak at about 22,255 according to the 2020 census.

Mayor Mikkelson addressed the process and timeline of refreshing the OG Village Vision from 2007 into Village Vision 2.0: Former Mayor Laura Wassmer, in 2017, began the process of updating Village Vision, now called Village Vision 2.0. During the 3+ year process, there were:

  • Nine public City Council meetings and work sessions starting in 2017
  • Nine public Planning Commission meetings
  • Three community meetings, two in-person
  • Three public surveys, plus a statistically valid citizen survey
  • Three eBlasts
  • Four Village Voice articles mailed to every. known. mailbox.
  • Over a dozen social media posts on multiple platforms
  • Five Shawnee Mission Post articles covering the process and how to provide input
  • … and more that I missed in my notetaking

After all of that, plus doorstep conversations the governing body had individually, it was determined that housing affordability is still a primary issue in PV, so Mayor Mikkelson created an ad hoc committee a full year ago to further research our limited opportunities. The committee was asked to develop recommendations from a long list provided from the 5-year work of United Community Services of JoCo AND Village Vision 2.0. The ad hoc meetings were public and reported on at least twice by the SM Post. Once the recommendations were presented on June 21st, the ad hoc committee was dissolved. The council discussed the recommendations thoroughly and at length before unanimously voting to send them to staff and the Planning Commission to create a process, including additional future public input, for deeper review and vetting.

Every. Single. Resident. of Prairie Village had ample opportunity and time to provide input on both Village Vision 2.0 and the ad hoc housing committee creation, process, and outcome. Just because the City received fewer survey responses than in previous surveys or people didn’t come to the meetings does NOT mean they didn’t know about it. It means they didn’t care, or didn’t have an opinion, or just trust the City to continue doing what the City has been doing for decades: making PV a great place to live, work, and play. Just because some people don’t like the outcome of surveys or Council votes, does NOT mean that the City and governing body are not listening. It just means theirs are not the only voices being heard. Welcome to democracy.

The mayor then welcomed other ideas from residents – there may be good ideas out there that haven’t been discussed yet.

He reminded everyone of the FAQ and primer that staff created and can be found HERE.

If the broad principles advance through the Planning Commission process, they will become specific proposals with descriptions, images, and more. If you’d like to hear more of the Planning Commission discussion on this topic, you can find it HERE around the 58 minute mark.

The mayor said personal attacks are discouraged. Reasonable minds can disagree on the same topic without vilifying the motives of folks involved. “Let’s avoid toxicity.”

The mayor addressed race: He recognized that opponents to the ad hoc housing committee recommendations swear their opposition isn’t racially motivated, but we ALL must recognize that there are racial and socioeconomic impacts to any decision we make, including doing nothing at all. Those impacts should be reviewed and weighed, especially since many of the founding principles of PV were inherently racist and exclusionary.

The mayor and the council have no idea where any of these recommendations will end up; they are now in the hands of the Planning Commission and staff with the input of city residents. And that’s how it should be.

  • Mark Johnson is insulted by the mayor raising the race card and not raising the rule of law in whether this process is legal. Mr. Johnson is opposed to rezoning because he says it’s against the law. He referenced “deed restrictions” prevailing over zoning as a matter of law. (Deed restrictions are HOA specific. Council is not attempting to revise the deed restrictions, and it is not the City’s responsibility to uphold or enforce those restrictions throughout the entire city. I do not LIVE in an HOA, so do not impose your deed restrictions on me and my home. This argument doesn’t hold water.)
  • Sue Jaspers has lived in PV since 1962. PV was an affordable area at that time, and there were schools, churches, shopping, and parks all within walking distance. Ms. Jaspers says if we do what we’re trying we will destroy Prairie Village and what makes it good. Million dollar homes are going in around her. (I commend Ms. Jaspers and her companion for attending the meeting and speaking up. I believe she said it was her first time. Brava! I do disagree with her assessment though. She herself stated that PV was affordable at the time she moved here and that many amenities were within walking distance. Council wants to bring affordability back, and the walkability won’t change if any of these recommendations become actual proposals. The governing body has no wish to change what makes PV good, and providing more opportunities for other people to benefit from our community certainly won’t destroy PV – it will ensure our viability into the coming decades as a vibrant intergenerational, multi-cultural, walkable, bike-able community where people want to live and work.)
  • John Wilinski has lived in PV for almost 20 years with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Emaline, a fifth grader. John supports PV looking at zoning rules to look at affordability because he wants others to enjoy the great benefits of Prairie Village.
  • Barb Wheeler listed the numbers of respondents of the various surveys during VV2.0 and said there weren’t enough respondents (see my comments above – residents can’t be required to respond or engage). She told Council to stop putting up million dollar mcmansions and ruining gardens (the City is not putting up homes – those are personal property. All the City is able to do is create guidelines, which we’ve done and continue to review. I encourage Barb to attend those meetings when they start back up.)
  • John Stacy has lived in PV for 20+ years including most recently in Ward 4. The crux of the issue for him is he doesn’t want single-family zoning to be tinkered with “at all” to protect their family home and the value of their family home so they can pass it on to future generations. He especially does not want multi-family.
  • Dennis Solis has lived in PV for 30+ years and applauds what City Council is trying to do. He understands that change is difficult for a lot of us, but he believes that we’re seeing changes that do need to be made. He hopes we can find a way to make PV accessible to a lot more.
  • Chet Hansen refuted the Mayor’s assertion that we’re not the densest city in JoCo. He clarified that we are the densest city above 20k. Asserted again that “no one” wants this to happen. (Demonstrably false. He himself was there to hear other people in the audience at this very meeting and previous meetings that DO want this.) Mr. Hansen also said it’s government’s job to protect citizens’ right to “life, liberty, and property”. (Further inspection of the constitution confirms this is the actual excerpt: “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”, not property. The mistake is ironic considering the Constitution Week proclamation.)
  • Steve Snitz says that he respects the council trying to make this happen, but the public participation moment is not a “good faith effort” to get public input. He doesn’t feel that he is being listened to. Says again that PV does not want this. (He has not been talking to my friends and neighbors. He thinks because we’re not doing what he wants, we must not be listening.)

At the end of public participation, Mayor again invited residents to stick around and observe the business of the city. All but one family duo left. Again.

Committee Reports

Diversity Committee

The committee met last week. Captain Washington is going to be the new liaison for the PVPD and will report back to them on Diversity committee happenings. They are also moving forward with the interpretive panel idea as well as the PV Seen playdate which will be in October at Porter Park. More info to come.

They also discussed public participation at their meetings, and Cole and Inga will be bringing some rules for that to the committee to consider.

Teen Council

Currently accepting applications until TODAY. Piper has received multiple applicants so far, and is excited to get started.

Environmental Committee

The Environmental Committee had a table at the Go Green 2022 event last week at Sylvester Powell Community Center in Mission. Piper attended, and reported that it was super well organized and attended. There was a lot of great collaboration and networking amongst vendors and between vendors and residents.

Parks & Recreation Committee

Terrence reported that the committee kicked off the most recent meeting with the consultant for the new coordinated park signage where they discussed, among many other things, possibly adding QR codes to the signage to provide even more information to visitors of the parks.

JazzFest

So it rained. Dave shared what we were all thinking: we’re still really proud of the committee and the event. Even with rain, about 400-450 people attended. The music was STILL great! Looking forward to JazzFest 2023.

Arts Council

The State of the Arts 2022 reception and awards presentation was on Friday, September 9th, and it was a wonderful turnout! Inga and I, representing the Arts Council, awarded nine cash prizes to nine amazing artists, and you can see the winners HERE. Thank you to all of our Arts Council committee members, past and present, for a wonderful show!

Tree Board

Greg informed Council that the Tree Board’s Fall Seminar topic will be: How to Sustain and Maintain Our Tree Canopy – October 5th at 7pm at Meadowbrook Clubhouse. Get more info HERE.

Mayor’s report
  • Mayor reported on meeting with residents at a handful of neighborhood gatherings to talk about housing.
  • Attended the health summit which touched on the direct correlation between health and secure/reliable housing.
  • Lancer Day – Mission Rd became Lancer Avenue, Prairie Village became Lancer Village, and junior Jack Kessler was Mayor for the Day.
  • Library Lets Loose annual fundraiser at Central Resource Library was a GREAT time (I can concur!)
  • Councilmember Lauren Wolf has been appointed to MARC’s active transportation programming committee, a sub committee of their transportation committee and focuses on non-vehicle transportation initiatives.
  • Body 2020 is opening in Corinth Quarter with a ribbon cutting this week.

Staff reports

Police Department

Chief Roberson reported on the first Doggy Dash in two years. 50 runners and 25 dogs; no scuffles between dogs or runners. 😊

Public Works

Keith Bredehoeft reported on the Public Works Open House last week where the team was awarded their LEED Platinum certificate, plaque, and seal. Thanked everyone for attending.

I thanked Keith for the work he and his staff, notably Melissa Prenger and Suzanne Lownes, did preparing and organizing a great event with informational stops, graphics, food trucks, and more.

Business

Consider Google Fiber franchise ordinance and related agreements

Google originally came into PV as a Video Service Provider (VSP) which allowed them to get in faster. They are now getting out of the TV business and will not be a VSP licensee anymore, so they need a new designation as a franchisee, similar to most all other utility providers in the city.

Under the former VSP, PV was able to command a 5% fee on the TV service, so we have now negotiated a 2% fee for ALL of their remaining services (so the revenue should actually go up in overall dollar amount because there are more broadband users). This agreement is in line with other JoCo municipalities for coordination/cooperation.

The ordinance and two amendments were all approved unanimously by Council.

Consider approval of contract with McConnell and Associates for Windsor Park tennis court resurfacing

Original quote went over budget (as all construction costs seem to be doing), so PW staff removed scope to bring it back closer to budget, the overage of which will come from the Park Reserve account. The removed items will be revisited at a later date.

The contract was approved unanimously by Council.

Consider updates to City Council Policy: CP028 – remote participation for public meetings

Council President Chad Herring introduced City Attorney David Waters to present this item that has received some guidance from the KS Attorney General. Essentially, “The City must provide a room, someone to ensure the meeting can be seen and heard, and other necessary accommodations to allow members of the public to view the public meeting.”… even if the rest of the meeting is online.

The State would have to declare a state of emergency or establish a temporary regulation allowing for just remote access for the City to NOT have to provide this room availability. (i.e. if another pandemic hit us.)

Bonnie, Ian, Terrence, Cole, Inga, and Piper were generally in favor of reducing or removing the maximum number of City Council Zoom attendances by councilors. Piper allowed that of course in-person meetings are preferred, but virtual allows us more opportunities to attend and participate when we’re sick or traveling. Lauren said she supported more options and the spirit of allowing remote attendance, even at executive sessions, except where attorney/client privilege may be in question. In that case, Wes could let the councilmember know it’s best not to attend. Ron concurred with Lauren, particularly going into flu season.

Inga asked what happens if a council member misses an executive session, and David said that they could get an update form the mayor or Wes.

Dave was in favor of removing the maximum number of remote attendances, but adding an expectation of attendance in some way. Also, if a person can not get to a secure location/situation, they recuse themselves from executive session from the get go. (Attendance expectations are covered in a separate Council policy.)

I was in Florida for vacation and then had COVID both within July/August, and I have already used my two remote opportunities for the year, so that minimum is too low.

Courtney likes the limits on remote attendance and prefers in-person meetings. She did bring up a good point about the security of the executive committee participation if someone was zooming in – but then that same issue was true during the pandemic. David Waters also brought up that we can’t guarantee that anyone wouldn’t just talk about it in any case. ever. (free speech).

Chad pointed out that the current writing of the policy was meant initially for calling in, which is a much more precarious situation. The technology today is much more amenable to remote engagement.

If there were ever concerns about remote executive session during COVID, they should have been brought up well before now for sure. But now is a good moment to reflect on our personal approach to those sessions and/or Council best practices.

The Council opted to ruminate on this topic for a bit longer. The overarching state law will still go into effect, but the details of the policy may be tweaked.

Other

Dave shared that he thought public participation is a bit tough at just 3 minutes with the hard stop and mic cut-off, so maybe we could soften that process. Mayor Mikkelson pointed out that speakers are given 30 second warnings before the end of time, and usually given extra time to finish a thought. It’s only when speakers abuse the process that they’re cut off abruptly.

Agenda Packet for your reference

Closing

So that’s it for this week.

Let me know if you have any questions. Be well and have a great week!

🙂

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