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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Welcome to the INDY's Raleigh City Council Live Blog

Posted by on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 at 12:59 PM


Happy Primary Tuesday, everyone. If you haven't voted yet, get off this live blog and go do that now; we'll still be here when you get back.

There's a lot on the council's agenda today, including some UDO items that will need public hearings and a couple rezonings; an update on Dorothea Dix Park, and most importantly, a staff presentation on body-worn cameras for police officers. You'll recall the council was scheduled to hear this presentation in a budget work session on Feb. 29, the day Akiel Denkins was killed in a police officer-involved shooting. 

"The presentation will address different technological approaches, resource requirements, and potential next steps," the agenda states. Council has the option to provide direction to staff "for the purposes of annual budget development." So that sounds promising for civil liberties advocates who say body-worn cameras, used by police departments in cities and towns all over North Carolina, increase police officer accountability. 

1:05: Mayor Nancy calls the meeting to order. 

1:08: Kevin Snyder, the curator for TEDx Raleigh is here. There's going to be giant TEDx event on Saturday, with local presenters giving TED talks, but it's sold out to the public. You'll be able to watch it at some point in the future. 

1:10: Parker Poe, the law firm, donated a lot of money (like $2,000+) to the Moore Square Park renovations and to the City of Raleigh Museum. 

1:12: The Hope Center at Pullen Park is being acknowledged. They serve more than 100 young people between 13-25 who have aged out of foster care. Children in foster care are at an risk population for incarceration and teen pregnancy. Pullen Center provides housing, education and other supportive services. 65% of the kids who go through the Pullen Center are enrolled in secondary education compared to 8% nationally. They also have higher employment rates than nationally. They're starting an internship program there, and Hope Center received a $1 million grant for young people they are serving.

1:14: Consent agenda is approved.

1:16: Next up: Report and recommendation of the Planning Commission. First item goes back to the citywide remapping; some properties were pulled out to be re-evaluated for rezoning. Mayor Nancy says these should go to a work session  before they go to a public hearing because there are 3 new council members and others need a UDO refresher. 

1:17: MAB says she is "excited" because there hasn't been a UDO hearing in a while. I'm sure that is an understatement. Next is a text change from the Raleigh Historic Development Commission to clarify that alleys will not be considered streets. Public hearing April 5.

1:19: Next a rezoning case on Hillsborough Street from residential to residential with conditional use, will have a public hearing April 5. Another rezoning on West Lenoir will be heard that day too.

1:20: Next up: parking on St. Alban's drive. That's been worked out and Council approves. Next: Leesville Road widening project. You may recall from two weeks ago, a citizen's property was flooding because the widening project wasn't done properly and a contractor went into default. The citizens wanted driveway repairs, fix his landscaping curbing and flooding issues. The city will fix things that need to be fixed and monitor the flooding situation.  

1:22: Next: streetside vending, aka food trucks. (How could I have forgotten food trucks!) So there is a pilot program. Travis Crane is presenting. There is a request for an ordinance to allow food trucks in the right- of- way to operate at certain times. There are five zones proposed, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. service time most days, except for First Friday (when they can operate until 8 p.m.).

1:24: Council needed to figure out if city-owned parcels could be used and the DRA surveyed property and business owners in the food truck zones. The UDO does have regulations on food trucks on private property, and the city can choose to allow them on its property. Staff would have to identify the parcels that meet the zoning requirements.

1:25: Additional outreach from DRA: there is a list of property owners in the 5 zones and they were all were notified. The DRA received 14 responses. The responses showed support for food trucks in the downtown area. They supported them near residences, there was no clear preference for a rodeo type situation over having them scattered all over. Most respondents did not support spacing from restaurants, said that is not critical to them. 

1:26: 3 of 5 locations were requested by residents. Regulations presented did give a minimum spacing requirement from restaurants, driveways, ramps etc. and the operator would have to clean up. I the staff pilot proposal, permits would be awarded via lottery. Names would be drawn and spaces assigned. There was a desire for variety, to shuffle the trucks around. That runs counter to the lottery system, so staff got creative. Trucks like variety among themselves and want to serve in different locations. Also it would be bad if a space was left unfilled by a food truck. 

1:29: There is software for how you can assign food truck spaces, similar to how you allow parklets in the right of way. Property owners would apply for permits and manage the truck rotation.

1:30: If Council moves forward, it needs to agree that the zones are acceptable (Moore Square area may be problematic bc of the ongoing transit center construction project). Also, are the regulations acceptable? If Council moved forward, staff would finalize permitting, intake, review and issuance of permits. It would coordinate with Public Works to assigns parking spaces, launch the program and check in in six months. Questions?

1:31: MAB on background: the locations were requested by businesses and state government entities downtown, so her committee was responding to requests from the community. That's how the 5 locations were determined. 

1:32: Cleanup would also put an onus on the property owner to clean up and say how the space is operated. David Cox asks, re. Parklet model, if there is a dispute, do property owners have right to withdraw a permit from a food truck? They do have that right. Corey Branch: If there are issues with the food truck, does the city addresses that with property owner and food truck? Yes.

1:34: There is still conversation about where exactly parking spots will be, and like, what if a car parks there and lingers? Does the food truck take priority? Staff has to work out those administrative details but the program could be up and running in 60 days. 

1:35: RS: With the food truck turnover, how is that goal achieved? Ultimately the property owner would be required to schedule the food trucks. Food truck operators will self regulate largely bc they don't like to be in the same location every day. There are apps etc. to help that location selection. It's a paid service that will need to be explored. RS: So if some food trucks  aren't getting enough allocated space time, would in six months we revisit what to do? Yes.

1:36: MAB: Idea would be, whoever, eg. Citrix, managed the spot, they would contact different vendors from a list of approved vendors. It's in their best interest to have variety each day. That would address your question. RS: It could, but I would want to hear if all the operators get opportunities. 

1:38: KC: re Moore Square, isn't there a designated vendor area for the park? There is, but there is a conflict during the construction process. DC: Standards regarding noise levels with their equipment? They can be noisy. City code does contain noise limits on how loud an activity can be during certain hours of the day, which is why we're looking at the lunch time hours. Are the regulations adequate, DC asks. Travis Crane says not sure.

1:40: MAB points out with all the construction noise anyway, that prob. cannot be measured accurately at the moment. Also, noise ordinances don't apply to the right of way, the city attorney says.

1:41: MAB says Citrix, CAM, HQ Raleigh, House of Swank and state government made requests for food truck. She can't remembers how Moore Square was chosen. Mayor Nancy is concerned about that ares bc of the amount of activity going on. MAB says she could see waiting on Moore Square, remove it at this point until construction is done. MAB motions to approve 4 spots, minus Moore Square, using the parklet model on a 6- month pilot program basis. Operators must provide hand sanitizer dispensers. MAB asks for 3-strikes-out rule on cleanup/noise violations.

1:43: Travis Crane says there is a penalty system (fines etc) set up already.  David Cox asks about capping noise; MAB asks to consider that after the 6-month program bc there might not even be any complaints. DC says that's fine. Council approves the pilot program. DOWNTOWN RALEIGH, YOU'RE GETTING FOOD TRUCKS!

1:45: Council discussed bike share today in a work session and are voting now. Bonner Gaylord motions to move forward with initiating the bike share program, and ask county and NCSU to participate, allocate costs in the budget, all with  the understanding that it will be re-evaluated after 3 years. And look at a monthly fee arrangement and move forward with a committee to sell sponsorships. KC has a statement: "I don't dislike bike share but we have to make value judgements. Some are hard. We want to be a city of innovation and a city for all people. Many people in the city are broken, poor, homeless downtrodden, there are children without homes and elderly people. They need help and we are the voice they have. We have much to do and so little money. We can do more with $653 thousand dollars for bike share. We nee to be a city of values, and all people need to share in it. This needs to be a city for all people and that is out job as Councillors to make sure it is."

1:47: RS: Everyone is aware of our limited resources and there are many worthy needs that come before us. There is a $2 million grant associated with the costs which we would be forfeiting if we don't move by April. Operating expenses are $600,000 per year but they would be covered by sponsorship and revenues. We have had several organizations interested in sponsoring and we will have more coming forward. I think we will find one of two things: that we are not getting enough sponsors and then we will re-evaluate, or we will find plenty of sponsors and the program is self supporting, but we need to take these first steps to see if it will work. He will support. DT says he is concerned about a loss of $653,000. He would not support it if hr thought the city would lose that much money. There has been a lot of support for bike share. He says it's up to the people to use it, if not, we'll lose it.

1:49: MAB to Crowder: "I understand where you are coming from and I share a passion for making sure people with the least are cared for. I think it is an important piece and an area we need to constantly look at and review." CB: I have gone back and forth on bike share and whether I support it or not. I look at where the community is going. We have a bright future, if we come together in many different ways. As long as we make sure bike share is shared and everyone can use it, then I support it. 3 years is enough time to gauge that and if it's not working down the line, we will make right decision.

1:51: Bonner says there is a transit, recreational and tourism benefit, and economic development benefit, to bike share. Bike share passes 6-1. RALEIGH YOU ARE GETTING BIKE SHARE!

1:52: Next up: Body-worn cameras. Ruffin Hall asks the Council to consider two things: will Raleigh move forward with BWCs, and if so, how to implement them most effectively. Ruffin says RPD and other departments have been working on this complicated topic for months. For Raleigh, it's not just about RPD but the  I.T. department, the city attorney's office, budgeting and city manager's office. Some issues are more than just the technology of cameras, but cost, data storage, operation procedures and potential legal questions around privacy and public records. Cities across the country are grappling with those questions. 

1:54: Police chief Deck-Brown will present. "This has been a topic on local government levels, in communities and across the country," she says. "It has branched in many directions in terms of how the technology is used and what to do with the data collected and how it is stored."

1:55: Body-worn cameras is video recording system worn on an officer's body to record interaction between the officer and public. But it is multi-faceted. It serves a tremendous benefit to the department and the community at large. It could be worn on the officer's glasses, or as headgear, attached to the front of the uniform, on the collar or on shoulder of uniform. "Agencies have chosen to wear them in different ways," she says.

1:57: For past several years, we have had the opportunity to monitor and watch the evolution of BWCs. Being the 2nd largest Police Dept. in the state and 42nd largest in the nation, we have had national discussions. Cops, DOJ, community-oriented policing groups, have all been at the table. We have an opportunity to ask questions, listen and engage. "This presentation comes to you with forethought, discernment, research and bench-marking," she says. 

1:59: "These discussions have given us an opportunity to look at this broadly but to be successful, this involves an organizational approach and collaboration," she says. "This is not just "police equipment." All departments have provided valuable input. There are complexities to address before moving forward." A diverse group of people stands up; they have all given input on BWCs.

2:00: The big question is why BWCs in city of Raleigh? Because of increased police and public trust, accountability of the department and the public, increased efficiency and effectiveness in investigation of complaints and increased quality of evidence collected. Outcomes reflect enhanced training, reduced complaints, reduced use of force and reduced officer and citizen injuries. "I am certain this list is not complete," she says. "We have taken the opportunity to look closely in our state and county and a number of agencies are currently using BWCs, some in early stages, some have been using more than a year."

2:03: Data storage is a huge concern and a costly aspect of this technology is how to store and retrieve data and make sure it goes to where it needs to. The city's chief IT officer, D Darnell Smith, will present. "There are a lot of players in this space," he says. "We want to make sure we are going to pick a solution we can grow with and invest in long-term." Oakland PD stores 7TB of data with use of 600 BWCs. He expects Raleigh's will be more. "We need to so something more because the program will grow exponentially."

2:05: There are 2 options: cloud-based or on-premise storage. On-premise would be in data centers and on city-owned servers. Cloud is cloud, and the more storage you use, the cheaper it gets. Cons of cloud are security; staff and procedures would need to protect it. Cloud companies do have that in place though. Also, cloud upload time is restricted. Offloading and overlay could happen before it goes to the cloud. 

2:06: On- premise is faster upload, but staff and space heavy. Back to Deck-Brown. Options going forward: a phased-in approach, or total implementation, she says. She recommends three-year phased approach because the technology is constantly evolving. This gives them flexibility that as technology changes, we benefit from the changes as well. There would be 300 BWCs for officers in the first year, then 150 in second and third years, giving 600 total. Pilot project will afford them to ensure best practices going forward. Push initial policy and tweak it as need. Also recommending the cloud, because national organizations say cloud is better. 

2:11: It will be $4.2 to 5.2 million over 5 years, with most cost in the first year. Next steps would be to submit a proposal to vendors around the fourth quarter of this fiscal year. Conversations with the community would continue. Develop a policy around BWC technology: who has them, what training they receive, when to turn on/off, how they're charged and how footage is downloaded, if off-duty officers have them, disclosures to DA, citizens rights, criminal discovery, supervisory review, etc. "That is why thee is so much conversation from citizens and law enforcement agencies alike," she says. "Tremendous responsibility comes with this." 

2:15: Then there would be product testing. There are good companies out there, and there are some smaller, fly-by-night. Need to be good stewards of funding and pick the right piece of equipment. Then there would be final selection, in the second quarter of FY17. After that, training and deployment. So they need to decide storage and integration with in-car cameras. 

2:18: "We live in a society where someone is constantly recording," Deck-Brown says. "This is the evolution of technology in terms of where we as a law enforcement community has gone. Instead of asking why, or why now, I would ask why not now. Citizens have asked repeatedly for this. We are the capital city and we have the opportunity to look at it. Now is the time."

2:20: Corey Branch: Says Deck-Brown is right about Raleigh leading, not following. We need to know all the facts and be transparent and this is a way for us to move forward. He motions to move forward with implementation of BWCs and authorize staff to create a pilot program, issue a request for proposal, develop the best policy for Raleigh by gathering best practices, review legal issues, analyze and recommend the best alternative for data storage and include funding options.

2:22: MAB: Have you considered local companies, like Citrix/Sharefile who store large data any consideration? If not could you as part of this process? Mr. Smith says not at that point yet, but the city is open to possibilities. Google, Microsoft and Amazon offer this storgae, but he needs to check with Citrix. "Humor me in the RFP process," MAB says. But funding is the most important aspect to the decision, says the IT Chief. They would need to work through the vendor. Motion is for phased approach. It passes unanimously. RALEIGH, YOU WILL HAVE POLICE OFFICERS WITH BODY-WORN CAMERAS. 

2:25: Next: Dix Park update. The land purchase has gone through. There will be a presentation on next steps for a master planning process. Steven Bentley will present. We're looking at some other parks, like Boston Park and Forest Park, Governors Island in New York, Presidio in San Fran, Millennium Park in Chicago. 

2:29: Dix is 308 acres, there are four lease centers now: DHHS has a ten year lease and a 25 year lease on properties, Healing Transitions has a 25-year lease on ten acres and an NC State daycare center has 3 acres and the Capital Areas Soccer League alos has a lease. There will be a 50-foot easement on Western Blvd. and a 40-foot easement to Pullen Park. 130 acres of currently accessible park property is left.

2:31: Parks and Rec rep. Kate Pearce—the new Dix Park planner—says there are 4 full-time employees landscaping the park and maintaining the cemetery. Working with DHHS to find joint use parking areas. No electricity, water or restrooms yet, so there will be plans for that. DHHS has had events out at Dix: 5Ks and walks, which will finish by summer. Rock and Roll marathon will use Dix for its 5K space. There are also team agreements with NCSU, and the DHHS softball league. 

2:33: They've met with neighbors, including Catholic Diocese (which has a cool new dome); NCSU and others. And they're learning from parks groups across the country to ID best practices. There's no apples to apples comparison, though. This all informs planning framework. 

2:35: The history and legacy of Dix will be respected, she says. And the ways people currently use it will be honored, balanced with a bold vision in thee master plan process. 2016 is planning to plan, getting ducks in a row, she says. In 2017, they will initiate master planning process.

2:36: Planning to Plan: Explore, educate and inspire people. Work with groups who will advise, advocate and engage. Choose the best team for Raleigh through a transparent, credible process to find the best people. hat will lead to a contract for master plan in 2017. 2016: early activation and engagement, 2017: start planning. 

2:38: Next up, sidewalk improvement projects. Council does not want to see presentations on these and they approve them all. And Public Works re-alignment: create 2 departments, one for engineering services and other for transportation, to streamline and approve efficiency. Council approves. 

2:40: Requests and petitions of citizens: Jared Burnette is asking for more time for a renovation project he is working on at 905 East Edenton Street. They give him the 30 days. Another extension request for 1601 Poole Road.  Council approves.

2:44: Deborah Joy is here regarding a petition to relocate graves in Williams Grove Baptist Church which are located in a development area. There is a procedure for that, Council just needs to sign off. There is no way to avoid moving the graves. David Cox asks for a map and more details about this. A few graves outside the cemetery boundaries of the church will be relocated. Next of kin will be notified. Council approves this.

2:50: Matters scheduled for public hearing: demolition of unfit buildings. I kind of zoned out but a woman is talking about a neighboring property on Allen Drive that has become a nuisance because of bikers (the motor-kind), people trespassing and chained up dogs. The neighbors want this house torn down because it's being used by a bunch of derelicts. Another neighbor calls it an eyesore. It's owned by an LLC in California; staff wants to demolish it too. Everyone agrees that needs to happen. The council approves demolishing it.

2:58: Next up: demolition at 106 Colleton Road is approved. Trisha Elliot and Maggie Kane are here to speak about Raleigh's culinary industry and women's history month. They want to recognize women here in Raleigh's culinary scene for their role in job creation and economic growth. "A Place at The Table" will open soon, next January hopefully, a pay-what you can, nonprofit cafe that will provide healthy food for everyone. It's a model that already exists and will be run by volunteers. Optimal location will be Hillsborough Street but they are looking for other locations because Kane says her rent there just tripled and her space needs some work. They are still looking for other options because it is donor- supported. There's a women's history month event at Hadley's on March 31. 

3:02: Next up: public nuisances. People will need to pay up because no one here to challenge them. Next, petitions to annexation. No one here to speak; those are approved. A water assessment on Edwards Mill is approved. 

3:04: Committee reports. There will be a public hearing for a property on Trailwood Drive. Report of Council members: Mayor Nancy had a blast at the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Bonner Gaylord has heard of training for public safety officers on dealing with people with mental illness and wants a report on that. Ruffin will look into it. Dickie Thompson says Substance Abuse Commission will host a pill-drop at four locations across the city on Saturday. MAB was in the Denver airport; there were machines there that raises money for homeless off of peoples' spare change. The Raleigh Partnership for Ending and Preventing Homelessness has interest in this too, to put in a program like this downtown. Denver raised $70,000 through their program. "Putting spare change in a meter to help somebody else sends a message about our city," she says. Staff will look at that.

3:10: Hey! Bob Geary was nominated for the Human Relations Commission! There are two other nominees, for two seats.

And that's it! Phew. 

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