My Vote on Municipal Consent

Last night the Crystal City Council voted on municipal consent for the LRT station in Crystal. I voted for a non-resolution with 3 other council members. 1 council member wanted to vote “NO” on the municipal consent and 1 wanted to vote “YES”. The official resolution we ended up with can be found here.

To better explain my vote, I thought the public might like to see this statement that I prepared for each council member before the meeting. I believe it might be helpful in understanding my vote.

Additionally, you can watch the council meeting last night here (available after noon). Just look for meeting: 2/29/16

Council member Kolb has also shared his thoughts regarding the vote here, and the SunPost account of the meeting can be found here.

Channel 12 did a good job covering this story here.


Below you’ll find that I did not mention a “No” vote as a choice.  This is because there was no real option for a no.

As a city we are allowed to vote yes or no on the first 15% of the project plans. That’s it.  If we vote “no” it goes to the MET Council for mediation, and we would be spending a lot of time and money.  We would be required to have very specific reasons for why the first 15% of the project plans were not good enough *and how the plans could be fixed to bring us to a yes* otherwise the MET Council can automatically turn our “NO” into a “YES”.  As a city council we absolutely had issues with the current plans for the LRT station, but based on the state law in place, any “NO” vote we made can be turned into a “YES” by the MET Council.

I personally did not want to give the impression that anything could be fixed to make me “approve this project”. And so the dilemma.

I, Council Member Dahl, propose a
non-resolution of municipal consent
to the preliminary design plans for
the Metro Blue Line Extension.

Up until a few days ago I couldn’t have told you how I was going to vote on this. I have wrestled with this until I felt physically ill. Why? Because we have been given an offer we can’t refuse.

Our options are Yes, Yes, or …Yes.

If we vote “yes” and endorse this project (because that’s what this vote is really about), we might get what we asked for on behalf of our citizens. I feel strongly about protecting the rights and safety of the citizens of Crystal, and at first glace it may seem that bargaining for a bridge and sound wall is the best we can do. But is it?

If we vote “yes,” granting municipal consent, we are endorsing what some of us believe to be a bad plan for Crystal. When this plan is brought to the State level and it is reported that “All Cities Voted Yes, All Cities Want This” – how will our representatives act on that information?

Contrary to popular belief, made possible through the sales tactics used so far- this line is not a done deal yet. But if we want our State Representatives to fight it, how can they do so if we have officially backed the project?

Each one of us has done our job: Listening to the concerns of our citizens, and telling the project office what our city needs for it’s safety and well-being. We were told that we need to give an affirmative yes, to “best ensure” that we get a ped-bridge and sound walls. But, “best ensure” is not the same as a guarantee, and a guarantee we have not been given.

If this project is pushed through and the critical features we need fail to become reality, (regardless how we vote today,) the final result of the project will not be on us. What WILL be on us, is whether or not we endorse a project that puts our citizens at risk.

When the newspapers and history books record that “Crystal Voted Yes” on the station planning for Crystal – there will be no caveats and no clarifications. The public will only be able to conclude that we either ignored them – and were fully on board with the project – or that we were pushovers and couldn’t stand up for our citizens. Countless citizens have written us, appeared at city meetings and other LRT events, asking us to please vote no.

We are being pushed and manipulated into approving this. The people of Crystal elected us to be their voice and we are being silenced. We could just let this happen and try to enjoy the experience, or we could shout out our disapproval and protest this ridiculous process by way of a non-resolution.

This way, though a non-vote will legally becomes a “yes” within 45 days, it is my hope that the citizens of Crystal and our state representatives will see it for the “no” that it really is.

Please, don’t vote yes.

I move for a non-resolution.

 

Point-of-Sale Home Inspections

At the last City Council meeting, Crystal took the first step to repeal point-of-sale home inspections by holding the first public reading of the ordinance change. 5-1 voted in favor of repealing the point-of-sale inspection.

On August 18th, 7pm at City Hall we will hold the second and final reading.  I encourage citizens to show up and speak out if they have strong feelings one way or another.  You can also contact me (elizabeth.dahl@crystalmn.gov ) or your city council representative (you can find them here: http://www.crystalmn.gov/city_government… ).

To clarify how point-of-sale inspections work:
The city inspects homes about to be sold and gives the seller a list of things that must be fixed before sale can be completed.  If the seller is not able to complete the projects the buyer is then required to do so within a certain time frame after purchase – or the fines will begin.

It is my view that the point-of-sale inspections are a duplicated service and cause more harm than good to the citizens of Crystal. At least 95% of new home owners pay for their own private inspection (which is much more thorough!).  Additionally the city cannot be held accountable for anything our inspectors overlook.

The argument has been that by having city inspections we will be able to control “blight” and force older homes to be brought up to date with newer homes.  However, this is sometimes almost impossible for the owners to do and the result is that the home owner “can’t afford” to sell.

I know of one constituent who paid out $20,000 to bring their plumbing up to date before they could sell their home!  It’s often the senior citizens who have lived in their same home in Crystal for 25+ years that have the most trouble with these inspections. New home buyers should take into account the age of the home and make sure to have at least one private inspection before purchase.  At that point the seller and home owner can work out negotiations on their own.

You may be interested to know, these are the current cities that require point of sale inspections.  Brooklyn Park just ended theirs.

If you would like more information on this topic, again I encourage you to contact me personally or show up at the August 18th City Council Meeting.

Thank you for your attention and valued input!

Crystal On-Street Parking Laws & Traffic Symposium

What do you think about the current on-street parking ordinance in Crystal?  The City Council is re-examining the current setup and looking for feedback.

The three options are:
1. Keep the current on-street overnight parking restrictions as they are: No on-street parking between 2 and 5 a.m. Seasonal parking permits are available under certain conditions from the Police Department from April 1 – Nov. 30. The first permit is free; subsequent ones are $25.

2. Allow on-street parking April 1 to Nov. 30. No permits would be required for overnight on-street parking. State law requires vehicles be moved every 48 hours and parked vehicles must be currently licensed and operational.

3. During the period of April 1 to Nov. 30, each year, each household would receive one (1) seasonal parking permit at no cost to be shared with guests with no parking.

Residents can email their feedback to ParkingFeedback@crystalmn.gov
or provide comments at the City’s 

Traffic Symposium/Open House
Thursday,
Sept. 10 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
at the Crystal Community Center, 4800 Douglas Dr. N. in Crystal.

You can also privately email me (or any other council member) with your thoughts (elizabeth.dahl@crystalmn.gov) .

I hope to see many residents at the upcoming Traffic Symposium!! We are very excited about this event. I hope our residents find it helpful by giving them the opportunity to learn AND be heard!

Crystal’s Night to Unite!

Last night Sgt. Lee-Faust and I made it to 8 Night to Unite neighborhood parties in only 3 hours. We made a great team, I only made it to 7 parties last year!

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It was fun to meet new people and catch up with neighbors I met last year. Excited to see so many neighborhoods become more connected and community oriented!

If you were not able to host or make it to a party this year, I hope you will get involved next year.  Just watch the Crystal website and Nextdoor.com for more information!