Additional Thoughts (Jan 20, 2019) – Greenbelt Purchases, Trespass Ordinance

Jan 20, 2019 | City Council

The following was originally published in my Jan 20, 2019 Newsletter in the “Additional Thoughts” section

Additional thoughts…

Since our last meeting, I’ve received emails from residents mostly on two topics: the Greenbelt purchase voted down at our last meeting (1/7/19) and the new trespass ordinance up for discussion this week.

Apparently our Greenbelt vote was unprecedented. Previously, every proposed Greenbelt purchase has been approved, regardless of how neighboring municipalities have (or have not) shared in the cost to subsidize them. I voted with the majority in rejecting last week’s proposal, because I only heard negative arguments at the council table: the city would shoulder a particularly high percentage of the cost and neighboring communities were not contributing. Since our vote, a number of key stakeholders have reached out to City Council to clarify some details— I expect that the issue will be brought back for reconsideration at this week’s meeting.

In this week’s agenda summary, I have not been able to offer much of my own understanding of the new trespass ordinance. I have copied and pasted explanation from Legistar (Council has not been given additional information about it). I have many questions for our legal staff and police department. Apparently, we are already citing people for trespass but the process is awkward for the person being cited; there is a long delay between the initial citation, followup notice, and court hearing. This new ordinance is meant to be an improvement on the current process of citation for trespass, but I have many questions about its implementation. Primarily, I am concerned that if the process is made that much easier, can we expect increased use of this citation against our most vulnerable residents? I hope to receive more detailed explanation at this week’s meeting (or in response to questions to the agenda).

I thank you for reaching out with concerns. I genuinely appreciate the opportunity to hear your perspectives— it is helpful to me!