Burlington City Council advances homeless funding but postpones short-term rental item at this week’s meeting
The Burlington, Vermont City Council had several agenda items earlier this week, including a presentation on options for controlling public explosions at their meetings.
The council has faced a number of incidents in recent months in which individuals or groups of people have disrupted proceedings, shouted insults or made threats. Burlington City Attorney Daniel Richardson submitted a draft memo examining the council’s options for maintaining decorum.
“The first recommendation is, and it really comes from Robert’s rules of procedure, that there must be effective enforcement. The second is to review the layout of the municipal council. You know how we make sure everyone feels safe? The third is to develop a formal code of conduct. Using virtual media as an alternative is something we really haven’t explored, but I think it’s a good alternative.” Richardson explained, “With a virtual meeting, you can mute their mic, which is allowed by the First Amendment if they have violated some of the code of conduct or rules.
City councilors considered changing the city ordinance to regulate short-term rentals. At a public hearing, Julie Marks said she was among more than 520 residents who signed a petition against the measure.
“Remember that short-term rentals are a valuable resource for the city. They bring in over $100,000 annually in taxes on meals and rooms, not to mention all the other business activities they sustain while visitors are in town. I urge you to change your perspective and try to use short-term rentals as an essential part of the affordable housing solution. »
Debate on the short-term rental resolution was deferred to the February 22 council meeting.
The panel heard two presentations on redistricting. The first reviewed the state’s preliminary plans for Chittenden County. Later, the city redistricting plan was discussed. Ward 1 progressive Zoraya Hightower asked city planner Meghan Tuttle about the expected degree of overlap between state and city plans.
“What is the possibility of aligning state maps or even the advantages and disadvantages of aligning it? Or is there a lot of impracticality in it? »
Tuttle replied, “There was a little discussion about it that the ad hoc committee got into about whether it was something important to the community. And the status process is not yet complete. It’s something we can certainly pursue if it’s something the board would like us to do. But it’s too early to tell how these cards will ultimately line up. »
Ward 4 Democrat Sarah Carpenter has proposed a resolution to use $2.975 million in federal pandemic relief funds to address homelessness.
“This resolution proposes the use of ARPA funds to serve the homeless and create a position of Special Assistant to End Homelessness. I think in particular that it will be essential to give us some staff capacity to deal with this. It takes a lot of family-by-family, person-by-person work to find resources and that’s really what this proposes to do,” Carpenter said. “And then in addition offers a very innovative possibility for a low barrier shelter using sleeping pods.
The jury approved the measure unanimously.