Select Board - Oct 24th, 2022
Meeting held in town hall, with remote participation. Material was available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1692. These notes cover a subset of agenda items.
Community Equity Audit Interim Report
(Jillian Harvey, DEI Director) Ms. Harvey provides a brief introduction, and says the audit process is moving along.
(Iris Bond Gill, Opportunity Consulting) Ms. Gill is the CEO of Opportunity Consulting, who is based in Washington DC. Their focus is on advancing equity outcomes, specifically by helping to align equity-focused intentions with outcomes. She says this has been a community-driven process, intended to center the voices of the most marginalized.
As background, Arlington commissioned this audit to understand inequities in civic engagement, the town workforce, and housing. Ms. Gill says she makes the assumption that every system was designed to achieve the outcome it gets, and their questions are centered around barriers in each of these areas.
(Yasamin Gordon, Opportunity Consulting) Ms. Gordon says they're about halfway through the project. She started working with Ms. Harvey in April, spent a portion of the summer doing quantitative data collection, and visited the community in August. She says that stakeholder engagements will be key to this process. The draft findings are starting to take shape, and she anticipates a workshop in December to review them. The final report will be available in January.
Ms. Gordon says she wants to do root cause analysis. Opportunity Consulting is currently working with stakeholder groups, and planning a series of focus group discussions in November.
(Diane Mahon, Select Board) Ms. Mahon says she understands the meetings with residents and stakeholders. She asks if any of the stakeholder groups include Metco students; those students aren't residents of Arlington, but they do attend our schools. In her experience, she's seen that students need to do a lot to understand each other in that setting. She's also interested in doing something to help residents in affordable housing connect with services.
(Yasamin Gordon) Ms. Gordon says they are engaging with both of those communities, noting that there will be an entire focus group devoted to youth. She'd like to get the perspectives of youth in town.
(Jillian Harvey) Ms. Harvey says that the Metco director was invited to be a stakeholder, but the timing didn't work out. She says the location of focus groups is designed to meet people where they are.
(Eric Helmuth, Select Board) Mr. Helmuth has a question for Ms. Harvey. He asks if she can provide a preview of the scope of recommendations that might be in the final report.
(Jillian Harvey) Ms. Harvey says she's learned that we're not great at collecting data. One of the first things they had to do was to send a survey to town meeting members in order to get demographic data. She'd like to see us do a better job of collecting data in the future. She's interested in looking at the three areas, and seeing what the barriers are. She hopes some root causes come out, along with suggestions for how we might go about creating solutions.
(Yasamin Gordon) Ms. Gordon says that Opportunity Consulting focuses on what they feel is possible for towns to implement, and things that will have impacts. She says the recommendations will be based on a balance of that, and what the community says its needs are. The focus is on working together in partnership.
(Eric Helmuth, Select Board) Mr. Helmuth is glad to see that we're asking tough questions, thinking systematically, and looking at what's really driving inequality. He asks Opportunity Consulting not to shy away from confronting us with things that aren't comfortable.
(John Hurd, Select Board) Mr. Hurd says the town has put DEI efforts in the forefront these past few years, and he's looking forward to seeing the results of the audit. He likes the way they're starting with outcomes, and working backwards. He knows this will reveal shortcomings and areas we need to work on. He asks if there's anything the Select Board can do to assist in the process.
(Steve Decourcey, Select Board) Mr. Decourcey realizes that we'll need to work together during the workshop phase. He'd also like to know if Opportunity Consulting is not getting the support it needs. He wants to continue this relationship.
Mr. Decourcey acknowledges someone who spoke during Open Forum, and expressed concern that the town had more than one employee working on DEI. He says there are three employees in the DEI group, and that it's an important thing for the town.
(Len Diggins, Select Board Chair) Mr. Diggins thinks the timeline is aggressive, and asks if an interim report was sent to the Board. He saw the slide deck in the meeting packet, but not a report.
(Steve Decourcey) Mr. Decourcey says it's attached to the agenda.
(Yasamin Gordon) Ms. Gordon says it's mostly a status report.
(Len Diggins) Mr. Diggins says he didn't see mention of Connect Arlington or our Net Zero Action Plan. He thinks it would be good to look at the transportation and energy areas, to make sure we're not leaving people out. He also thinks about youth equity, and asks that youth be included as a group. He tells Ms. Gordon and Ms. Gill to let the board know if there's anything they can do.
The board moves receipt of the presentation, and that motion passes 5--0.
Discussion & Vote: Potential Overnight Parking Pilot
(Len Diggins, Select Board Chair) Mr. Diggins thinks we should wait until next year to hold an overnight parking pilot, if the board decides to do so. This would ensure the board has enough time to work all of the details out. He feels the board also needs to have a process so that they don't over-collect in municipal lot parking fees.
(John Hurd, Select Board) Mr. Hurd thinks it would be fine to start the pilot in May. He asks Mr. Diggins to elaborate on municipal lot fees.
(Len Diggins) Mr. Diggins suggest reducing the yearly fee by one-third. He's not sure of the exact amount, because we haven't decided how long the pilot will last.
(Diane Mahon, Select Board) Ms. Mahon asks if the pilot will be confined to a specific area, or if it will be town-wide.
(Len Diggins) Mr. Diggins says the intention is to make it town-wide.
(Diane Mahon) Ms. Mahon says that municipal lot parking isn't always overnight parking.
(John Hurd) Mr. Hurd says the idea is to avoid charging people for using municipal lot stickers, and then allowing them to park on the street.
(Diane Mahon) Ms. Mahon says she's not in favor of a town-wide pilot, and thinks that's too Herculean a task. She'd prefer a pilot area. She's concerned about residents that might be parking 1--3 cars in a municipal lot and then parking them on the street in front of where they live. She asks if people will have to park in front of their house.
(Len Diggins) Mr. Diggins says the details have yet to be worked out, but APD recommended a town-wide pilot. He says they have to work out where parking will be allowed, along with other details.
(Diane Mahon) Ms. Mahon asks if the police, fire, and public works departments could come before the board. She wants to know what would be entailed in lifting the overnight parking ban for four months.
(Len Diggins) Mr. Diggins says they would appear, before the pilot.
(Doug Heim, Town Counsel) Mr. Heim says the municipal lot fee is for access to a parking spot, all year round. He says that fees are related to the cost of administering the program, and don't have to be pro-rated.
(John Hurd) Mr. Hurd thinks it will be easier just to give people a heads-up that the pilot will be happening. He thinks that people will be more excited about being able to park on the street. If the pilot were held in a specific area, then it wouldn't make sense to pro-rate the cost for everyone. He suggests going forward with fees as they are.
(Len Diggins) Mr. Diggins thinks there are between sixty and eighty people with year-round municipal lot permits. He says the board would have to weigh the complexity of not charging vs refunding.
(Steve Decourcey, Select Board) Mr. Decourcey says that only a few of the board members have participated in all of the discussions. He thinks it makes sense to keep the status quo on fees, until there's a vote.
(Len Diggins) Mr. Diggins says he'd like to wait until after winter, so there's time to meet with people and get buy-in.
(John Hurd) Mr. Hurd asks about the financial impact of losing municipal lot fees. The fees for 80 parking spaces would be around nineteen thousand dollars.
(Sandy Pooler, Town Manager) Mr. Pooler says that parking fees go into the general fund. He thinks it would be better to have a more coherent policy for the pilot, before we go changing the fee structure. He notes that the police department said they had a preference for a town-wide pilot, but would be able to manage a limited area.
(Len Diggins) Mr. Diggins says he wanted to make sure the Treasurer's office knew about this well in advance. It looks like the board won't need to take a vote tonight.