Hello Friends & Neighbors,
Happy October to you – it’s finally fall in Providence! I hope you find ways to enjoy the season in whatever ways bring you the most joy – picking apples at a local orchard, eating pumpkin spiced-flavored treats, bundling up in a sweater, decorating for Halloween, buying winter squashes at the Hope Street Farmers Market, or the Roger Williams Park Spook-tacular – or anything else! If you have a fall favorite in PVD you think I should experience, let me know!
As always, there’s so much going on in our awesome City and I have been working hard for you – so I’ll share some updates!
Save the Date: October 11th at 7pm– Ward 3 Community Meeting at Vincent Brown Rec Center
At our July Ward meeting, several neighbors had some good questions about the Police Budget. Neighbors have also asked me good questions about police operations. We will be joined by Providence Police Chief Oscar Perez to answer questions and share information directly with Ward 3 Residents.
I will also provide some general updates and answer questions and hear concerns.
Wards 2/3 Comprehensive Plan Zoom: October 11th at 6pm
Before our Ward-specific meeting, join Councilwoman Anthony’s Comprehensive Plan meeting to be held via Zoom. Councilwoman Anthony & I intentionally split our meetings so that our constituents would all have a zoom and an in-person option.
If you are interested in another opportunity to participate in the development of the Comprehensive Plan, you can also fill out this survey for the Planning Department.
Climate Justice in the Comprehensive Plan & Zoning Ordinance:
The team at the Department of Sustainability has released a report outlining potential ways to incorporate the City’s Climate Justice Plan into the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Ordinance. As you may know the Zoning Ordinance needs to be in line with the Comprehensive Plan – so with the once-per-decade update to the Comprehensive Plan happening now, this is an ideal time for this study.
The Department of Sustainability would love to hear from you about this work! Please check out their survey here. You can also watch a presentation about this in the recording of my last Special Committee on Environment and Resilience – which you can find herealong with links to the presentation and report.
Providence School Board Application:
Are you interested in participating in the Providence School Board? Currently, Board Members are appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Council (through the Finance Committee). If you are interested in applying for an appointment, check out the application here.
Community Electricity – New Rates go in Effect November 1
Unless you have opted out of the Community Electricity Program (or have a contract with a different third party energy supplier), you are enrolled in Providence’s Community Electricity Program. Like all energy rate programs in RI, new rates for this program will go into effect on November 1, 2023.
The below graphic shows the updated pricing for the six months beginning November 1 for the different enrollments within the Program. The leftmost column compares the rate to those charged by the default service provided by RI Energy (called by its legal name “Last Resort Service”).
Do you have questions about the program? Two zoom info sessions will be offered on October 4 from 7 – 9 PM or October 16 from 5:30 – 7:30 PM. Links will be available on program website: https://electricity.providenceri.gov/
In September, the Mayor released a new Overdose Prevention Strategy for Providence. It can be viewed here.
Support RIPTA & #WeekWithoutDriving
This week is national #WeekWithoutDriving. Try to see if you can replace any of your usual car trips with walking, biking, scooting, or public transit! If you see a sidewalk or street in need of repair while you’re out and about, report it to 311 or shoot me a note so we can keep track of it. The need is greater than available funding, but we are working to continuously identify areas that need the most investment.
While you’re at it, you can also advocate to increase support to RIPTA at this below rally!
Ward 3 News:
I have been keeping busy and working hard to make real legislative change during my term on Council. After our August recess:
· I passed the Building Energy Reporting Ordinance (BERO) out of the Special Committee on Environment and Resilience (which I chair). This will now go to full Council for approval.
· I passed a resolution co-sponsored by many of my colleagues enshrining Providence as America’s First Climate Jobs City. This commits the Council to ensuring that as we tackle the climate emergency, we do so in a way that recognizes the inequitable burden the current systems of equality place on many residents and charts a path to creating jobs in an economy with good, family-sustaining wages. I am pleased that the Mayor was also supportive of the Resolution. You can see coverage of our joint press conference with Climate Jobs RI on WPRI, on ABC6, and on Steve Alquist's Substack.
· After hearing a presentation at the Special Committee on the Environment and Resiliency about Breathe Providence, I passed a resolution in support of their work. Breathe Providence is collecting and analyzing data on air pollutants around the city, and we are committed to using this research and data to make informed policy decisions for our residents. I was especially pleased to be able to honor Breathe Providence’s lead researcher – Meredith Hastings – who is a Ward 3 resident!
· As early implementation of our Climate Jobs City status, I am preparing to introduce an ordinance to require all municipal buildings in Providence to be Carbon Neutral in the next few weeks You can read a little more about it in the Providence Journal. More details to come soon!
· I was thrilled to be appointed to the new Commission on Taxation and Revenue. We meet every Monday* at 5pm at City Hall. Links to meetings can be found here. We will be digging into the nuances of the City’s revenue and taxation and best practices from elsewhere – and will be issuing a series of recommendations by the end of December. Ward 3 is one of the most economically diverse Wards in the city, and I am glad to be able to participate actively in this Commission. Please continue to reach out with thoughts, ideas, and concerns. (*We meet October 11th at 5pm instead of the 9th because of the holiday).
· Gender Affirming Care: Through an organization of City Councilors across the country in which I participate, I signed an amicus brief opposing Indiana’s SEA480, which would ban gender-affirming care for children. While this is not Providence-specific, in the face of overwhelming discrimination against members of the trans community, I felt it was important to add my name to the more than 80 local legislators from across the country to stand up against this kind of bigotry. You can read more about it here. I am currently working with local leaders to determine ways Council can increasingly demonstrate support for our trans community at home in our City.
Ward 3 Tree Planting:
Have you noticed that some streets have more trees than others? Our neighbors have organized a morning of tree planting on Saturday October 21 at 8am.
Meet at 214 Camp Street (Corner of Camp and Evergreen) for a planting demonstration. There are 25 trees approved for planting, which will be primarily planted on Camp, Evergreen, Woodbine, Pleasant, and Forest Streets. Dress comfortably and bring a shovel if you have one.
RSVP to Emily at: email@example.com
Hope Street Temporary Trail Report:
Do you remember last year’s Temporary Trail Trial on Hope Street? Can you believe it was already a whole year ago? The Providence Streets Coalition and others have compiled their survey results and data gathered from rider counts, etc and have shared findings in this report. While I do support increased non-car transportation – there is not currently funding in the FY24 budget for implementing these recommendations.
North Burial Ground in the Providence Eye:
Have you checked out the Providence Eye yet? It’s a new publication focused on Providence! Check out this piece they ran on Ward 3’s own North Burial Ground!
Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) MOU and MOA with Universities:
Many of you have been following along the process for the PILOT agreements with four universities with a physical footprint in Providence. The Mayor’s team negotiated two different documents: a 20-year MOU with Brown University, Johnson & Wales, Rhode Island School of Design, and Providence College for voluntary payments to the City and an MOA specific to just Brown that involves the transfer of 5 (amended now to 4) City streets to Brown in exchange for $46 million over 10 years. I want to update you on where this process stands. (To see these documents, click here.)
The Mayor’s Chief Operating Officer presented these documents to the Council Finance Committee on September 11th. My fellow Councilors and I asked many questions about both documents. While I am grateful to the Mayor for negotiating higher voluntary payments than prior PILOT agreements ($177 million in direct payments over 20 years – roughly $8.85 million/year), the agreements included other provisions that we had questions about.
The Council Finance Committee held a public hearing on September 26th. I voiced concerns at our Sept 11 finance committee meeting about scheduling a public hearing if there would not be real opportunity to make changes to the documents based on feedback. Unlike the budget or other things that come before Finance, the Mayor is legally able to sign an MOU like this without bringing it to Council because these are voluntary payments. We heard nearly 3 hours of testimony on the agreements. There were several people in attendance to support the agreements, but many people asked for amendments to the agreements and increased payments from the universities. I especially want to commend the more than 40 Brown students who came and provided compelling, detailed, and well-researched testimony. I hope we continue to see them share their voices at City Hall.
The Finance Committee held a vote on September 28 on whether to endorse the MOU and MOA. We voted 2-1 “without recommendation” to allow the Council to vote on each. I gave remarks at committee about the process, which you can listen to here, and I shared thoughts on my decision to vote “without recommendation” to pass to the full Council on Twitter here. Please note that I did not take this decision lightly and weighed the voluminous quantity of letters, emails, texts, tweets and Facebook messages I received in the weeks preceding very carefully. The Council will vote on both agreements on Thursday October 5th at 6pm. **If approved, provisions of the MOA requiring zoning changes or the sale of city streets will still need to go through a public process at the City Plan Commission and back to the Council for another vote in the future.
I know many of my constituents had strong opinions about provisions in the MOU and MOA – both strongly in opposition and in support. I am happy to discuss this and my vote with you if you have questions. I will always be transparent and honest with you and fight for a government that reflects the same values.
Thank you Thank you Thank you. I am inspired every day by the residents of Ward 3 and our City – the amazing ways you show up for each other and the City and the insightful questions and comments you share.
Please continue to reach out to me at AnderBois.Ward3@gmail.com when you see things that can be better in our City – and to celebrate the things you already love here! I am working hard with the team at City Hall to address the concerns I hear, which lately have included things like – utilities not repaving the streets properly after cutting into them, how to get trees and sidewalks to co-exist, how to request a street closure, parking signs and overnight street parking, storm drains, localized flooding, and so much more.
Councilor Sue AnderBois, Ward 3