Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Seattle City Council approves Green New Deal measure … Nevada completes largest infrastructure project in state history … Proposal in Ohio would remove permit requirement for concealed carry.
The Minneapolis City Council last week voted to ban the construction of new drive-thru restaurants. Existing drive-thrus will be allowed to remain, even if a building is sold to new ownership. New drive-thru construction had already been banned in 17 out of the city’s 23 zoning districts. Minneapolis isn’t the first city to completely ban drive-thrus, but it is the largest city in the country to do so. Council members said the move was to improve public safety, citing a study that found that every drive-thru in a low-income neighborhood increased the average number of pedestrian crashes per year. Council members also said that the ban is part of a larger plan to reduce greenhouse gases and noise levels, and is the result of the historic unpopularity of drive-thrus in the city. “It’s been my experience that every application for a business that requires a drive thru generates opposition from the immediate neighbors and often the neighborhood association. I rarely have seen anyone other than the applicants of drive-thrus come to speak in favor of them. No one wants to live anywhere near a drive-thru,” said Councilmember Lisa Goodman. But some say that drive-thrus are changing forms to now include pharmacies and coffee shops, which might be more appealing to residents. “In conception, people say they don’t like drive-thrus. Yet they use them all the time. Convenience is more and more important in the restaurant business. That’s why we have all these delivery companies now. That’s why mobile orders are more popular,” said Jonathan Maze, executive editor of Restaurant Business magazine. Disabilities advocates like Margot Imdieke Cross, a member of the Minneapolis Advisory Committee on People with Disabilities, also raised concerns.“Drive-thrus are very important for many people with mobility issues and seniors. The city of Minneapolis has to recognize that there are different groups in this community. We have different concerns and we all need to be represented,” she said. Minneapolis is also expected to consider phase outs of gas stations and mandatory parking regulations. Both of those proposals are intended to reduce the number of miles driven locally by 40% by 2040. [Twin Cities Business; Minneapolis Star-Tribune; CNET; Streetsblog]
GREEN NEW DEAL | The Seattle City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution supporting a Green New Deal, the policy proposal put forward by U.S. Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that includes various efforts meant to mitigate the effects of climate change by investing in clean energy. The resolution approved by the council will steer the city away from gas and diesel cars to electric ones and would require buildings to be more energy efficient. “This resolution specifically, explicitly says that Seattle will be climate pollution-free by the year 2030,” said Councilmember Mike O'Brien, who led the effort. “This is not climate change anymore — it’s a climate crisis; it’s climate catastrophe that we’re facing,” said Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Many local residents testified in favor of the resolution, including a woman who brought her two young children. "We are terrified that they will die an early and terribly tragic death because of the impact we humans have on our environment," she testified. Todd Myers, of the Washington Policy Center, a conservative think tank, said that the effort should take an incentive-based approach rather than a punitive one. "We do need to do something about carbon dioxide emissions, but giving people incentives to reduce their CO2 emissions and become more efficient and save money is the way to do it, not top-down government plans," Myers said. [KIRO 7; My Northwest]
NEVADA INFRASTRUCTURE | Nevada has completed a $1 billion, three-year project that represented the state’s largest and most expensive infrastructure construction project to date. Project Neon enhanced four miles of road in downtown Las Vegas, where 300,000 vehicles, or 10% of the state’s population, travel each day. Those four miles contain 63 lane miles, 29 bridges, and over 20 lane miles of high occupancy vehicle spaces, all of which were repaved, expanded, and in places redesigned in order to reduce congestion. The project involved 717 vendors. “We adopted a design-build approach that delivered the project nearly a year earlier than originally anticipated for nearly $80 million in time savings for local taxpayers. This project was a truly collaborative process between stakeholders for improved traffic safety, efficiency and reliability,” said the Nevada Depart of Transportation director, Kristina Swallow. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak praised the completion of the project. “Project Neon greatly improves traffic congestion, motorist safety and commuter delays, thereby improving the quality of life for all Nevadans while improving visitor experiences to our state,” he said. [Traffic Technology Today; Las Vegas Review-Journal]
CONCEALED CARRY | Two bills in the Ohio state legislature propose repealing the requirement for gun owners to obtain an additional permit in order to conceal carry a firearm. Doing so would also remove the need for a concealed carry background check and would eliminate the requirement that concealed carriers announce their weapon to law enforcement. While the bills have not reached a vote yet, cities across the state have already spoken out in opposition. The Akron City Council has already passed a resolution opposing the changes. "It's not really police friendly. It's not really community friendly, you know. It's not a Second Amendment issue and my question is always when does the Second Amendment become more important than the First or the 19th or anything like that? They are equally important," said Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan. Even so, one lawmaker said it seems likely the bills will pass. "If it divides itself along party lines it is very likely to pass but, again, we don't work for political parties; we work for our constituents...so I'm hopeful that the majority leadership will decide to work on behalf of the people rather than party or special interest groups," said House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, a Democrat. The bills are being considered at the same time as other proposals by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who after the mass shooting in Dayton two weeks ago proposed some restrictions on guns, including background checks and “red flag” laws. [FOX 8; Cleveland Scene]
PORTLAND PROTESTS | On Wednesday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler met with a group of almost 100 city agencies, labor unions, universities, and activists to denounce any possible violence at an upcoming protest planned for this weekend. The move comes after the city experienced bouts of violence over the past few months at protests where left and right wing groups clashed. “To anyone planning to commit violence during demonstrations in Portland scheduled for Saturday...you are not welcome here. If you choose to commit violence, you will face legal consequences,” Wheeler said. A spokesperson for Wheeler, Tim Becker, said that the administration has received tips about the potential size of the upcoming protest, which led to fears about potential violence. “So many people feel the same way—we don’t want this. This is unprecedented—at least for this administration,” he said. "There is concern about the criminal intentions being expressed in the publicly available forums which suggest some attendees plan to engage in violence,” said Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw. “We are taking this into account and developing an appropriate plan with adequate resources to prepare for this eventuality." [The Oregonian; New Now Next]
Emma Coleman is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.