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Reading the City Council agendas


City of Wichita council homepage

One of the things DelanoWichita has done, and a task that someone should take up upon DelanoWichita's ending, is regularly check the City Council agenda for Delano-related items. Council meetings are every Tuesday, with first through third Tuesdays generally being standard meetings. Fifth Tuesdays, when they happen, don't have meetings or have only workshops. The City Council web page has a tab for the calendar as well as one for "CC agendas," which are generally published the Friday before the meeting. Sometimes they're early or late, and sometimes they're revised after the first publishing (and sometimes after the meeting itself).

The agendas are multi-hundred-page PDFs, so be prepared for that before you click. Luckily, they come with a table of contents so you'll only need to look at the first few pages to see what's happening. Taking this week's agenda (big PDF!) as an example, let's walk through it.

Pages 1-4 are the Table of Contents, and the actual agenda starts on page 5.

Section I is the public agenda. This is the time allotted for citizens and organizations who have something to say that wouldn't otherwise get on the agenda. Arrangements for this have to be made in advance.

Section II is the consent agenda. Unless one of the councilmembers requests an item be pulled out for a separate discussion and vote, these items will be approved in bulk. In the agenda file, they'll appear after all the non-consent items.

Section III is unfinished business, which there isn't any this month.

Section IV is the new business, which begins the meat of the agenda - these items are all listed in the Table of Contents. There aren't many this month, and nothing that applies to Delano. Item IV-4, though, is a Community Event. Most will fall under consent agenda, but those involving consumption of alcohol rather than a simple street closure end up here.

Section V is the planning agenda. Again, for these items there is no public comment period. Any objections should have already been raised when these items appear before District Advisory Boards (DABs) and Metro Area Planning Commission (MAPC). Ideally, Planning sends notifications of most requests to the Delano Neighborhood Association, though the ones that only affect downtown Delano don't necessarily get sent out, and this is a policy decision rather than an ordinance-required service.

Section VI is the housing agenda. This section is often the source of good news about housing work in our area by Habitat, Mennonite Housing, etc.

Section VII is the airport agenda, which has to date never directly affected Delano.

Section VIII is the council member agenda, generally about trip approval.

Section IX is council member appointments. Many committees - and the City has many, many committees - have a member appointed by each council member. Taking note of the appointments can be important, since effectively both District IV and VI appointees represent Delano. Some committee openings go unfilled, which is a missed opportunity for Delano to make its voice heard.

The details of Section II, as stated earlier, fall after the non-consent items. They're generally non-controversial, or at least have been settled in other meetings. The primary one to look for here are Community Events - these are where street closures are approved, and they'll list the streets and times. Depending on the organizers and the busyness level of the Events office, these can show up weeks or just days before an event (rarely, they can even turn up for post-hoc approval). A couple of important notes: getting a Community Event that involves a street closure approved can take quite some time, since it needs to travel around for various departmental approvals, including WPD. Also, if you object to a street closure do not show up at the Council meeting expecting to have a chance to complain. Instead, contact any councilmembers you can in advance to express your concerns. This is true of any agenda item, but doubly true of any consent item - it is much better to have the item pulled from consent before the meeting than to ask your council member to pull it during the consent item vote.

Another item that shows up on consent is house board-ups, demolitions, lawn mowing, and the like. Generally this isn't too significant - by the time a property reaches this point it's a point of no return. It's nice to be able to tell its neighbors that the process is proceeding, though. Zoning changes also appear here, unless they were contested in DAB/MAPC (which, again, is where that should happen).

MAPC and DAB agendas appear less frequently. They'll be addressed in another post.

Visitors OCTOBER 7, 2016

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