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May 12th Ward 3 PVD Letter

Hello Friends & Neighbors!


Happy Mothers Day to all the moms in our community! I'm also thinking of everyone for whom Mothers Day is a difficulty holiday. I'm grateful to my mom, Liz, who taught me by example the value of hard work and that women are strong and tough and belong in all the rooms where decisions get made (and also to always have a little chocolate in your purse...).  


There's a lot going on in our community and the larger Providence community, so I'll jump right in!


Infrastructure Updates in Ward 3:


Traffic Calming - Sections of Hope Street and Camp Street


The sections of Hope Street and Camp Street between Olney and Cypress will have temporary traffic calming speed humps installed this spring. The Department of Public Works has received many reports of speeding in those areas, and confirmed this through traffic studies. With Billy Taylor Park, the YMCA Daycare facility and nearby MLK school, there are also many children crossing these streets regularly.

The speed humps installed will be temporary to start, to ensure this intervention works before installing more permanent structures later this year.


Nathan Bishop & Vincent Brown updates:


With federal ARPA funds available to the Council, I was able to secure funding for improvements at both Nathan Bishop Middle School and Vincent Brown Recreation Center. Both of these facilities are important pillars in our neighborhood, used by both students and the larger community.

Nathan Bishop will be getting a sign out front where they can advertise events. We will also be repaving and relining of the basketball/tennis/pickleball courts. The project will include adding accessible access for those who cannot use stairs and will also add drainage to address the flooding issues that have led to the current cracks.

Vincent Brown will be getting flooring upgrades, a deep cleaning, and internal infrastructure to support the new weight lifting and dance spaces. We are also coordinating with Public Property and Sustainability on the HVAC system, which does not function properly in the summer.

With the current use of the buildings and the timeline to spend the funds, the projects should be underway and completed this summer/fall. They've already been moving through the City's internal procurement processes. A big shout out to Council Staffer Kyle Delgado for helping me move these big projects through complicated city processes.





Budget Season:


We are still in the thick of budget season! For those who missed the last newsletter, the Council receives the Mayor's proposed budget in mid-late April. The Finance Committee (of which I am a member) then reviews it over the course of April - early June and passes an amended budget.

This Council is fully committed to transparency in government. Several times per week until mid-June, the Finance Committee meets to review each department one-by-one. Chairwoman Anthony put together a full guide to the budget process, including an up-to-date calendar of when each department is being reviewed. You can find it at this link.


Of note, the second public hearing on the Council's proposed amendments to the budget is: Tuesday June 4th at 5:30pm.  The public hearing to review the Police staffing contract and two proposed TSAs is on Wednesday the 15th at 5:30pm.


Thank you to everyone who came out to testify at the first public hearing. We had a lot of parents from Ward 3 testify about further budgetary support for our schools. Thank you!


You are welcome and invited to send me any questions you might have for upcoming budget discussions. I am spending a large amount of time preparing for and actively participating in the finance committee discussions and take the financial health of our City and transparency of this information incredibly seriously.


Comprehensive Plan Updates:

The once-per-decade update to the City's Comprehensive Plan is still underway. I encourage you to read the draft chapters that were released by the Planning Department. They are available at this link.


How can you weigh in? There are still several ways for residents to weigh in, and you can see the full process outlined at this link. But overall, we are at the part of the process where public comment can be submitted in writing to the Planning Department at planning@providenceri.gov. Next, the City Plan Commission (CPC) will hold a public hearing (where members of the public can come testify) sometime this spring/early summer. We do not yet have a date for that hearing, but I will share it once I have it.


Once the CPC passes the Plan, it is sent to the Council for our review. We can do our own community engagement (and I plan to hold at least one community meeting in the late summer/early fall to hear your feedback).  The Council will also hold our own Public Hearing before potentially making amendments and then passing it toward the end of the calendar year.


Thank you to the residents who have already sent me their thoughts on the current draft chapters. The Comprehensive Plan will guide land use decisions in our city for the next 10 years - it's important that everyone who is interested has their voice heard in the crafting of this document.


Upcoming and Recent Committees:


Even with the budget underway, the Committees I chair and participate in continue to be active doing the business of the City! Reminder that all public meetings can be found at the City's Open Meetings Portal.


  • May 16th at 6pm: Full Council meets in Council Chambers.

  • May 20th, 5:30pm: North Main Street Task Force (3rd floor of City Hall). We will be discussing the draft Road Safety Assessment crafted by RIDOT's consultant team and discussing next steps for implementation. Time for Public Comment is always included.

  • June 6th, 9:30am: Board of Parks Commissioners - Roger Williams Park Boat House. Agenda has not yet been circulated. (I am one of two Councilors on the Board).

  • June 12th, 5:30pm: Special Committee on the Environment and Resiliency: We will be hearing from several people and organizations working on community-scale composting and waste diversion solutions.

  • May 8th:  Environment Committee:

  • We heard a great presentation from our stellar intern Logan Torres (Brown '24) on ways the City can address and reduce pollution from PFAS.

  • We also heard public comment from many RIPTA riders about plans to relocate the RIPTA bus hub. I am amending a resolution I authored on the bus hub to further reflect the concerns we heard that evening. This updated resolution will be on the full Council's agenda on Thursday May 16th.


RIPTA Listening Session on the Bus Hub Relocation, May 13th, 4-7pm at the AMP. To learn more and to sign up for updates, see this link.





In the News:


8-Law Ordinance:  

You may have seen in the news that the Council passed (and the Mayor vetoed) something being referred to as the "8 law ordinance". I wanted to share information as well as my thoughts on this with you directly.

What is it? There is a provision of Rhode Island General Law (44-5-13.11) that allows owners of buildings that are being rehabilitated and include low-income housing to pay 8% of their previous year's collected rent as their property tax bill.


There are some property owners in Providence who have been allowed to use the 8% law provision on entire buildings, eventhough only a small percentage of the units are income restricted. It has also been used on commercial units in those mixed-use buildings. Many of us believe that this was not the intention of this tax incentive.


In April, the Council passed an ordinance that sought to clarify how this law should work in Providence. Specifically, it mandates that only low-income units are eligible for the tax treatment.  It defines low-income housing as being restricted to tenants making 80% or less of the area median income and limits the rent to 30% of their income. It also increases city oversight. Of note, it does not apply retroactively. Incorrect information was spread that this ordinance would apply retroactively to buildings for prior tax years - which is neither the intent nor how it is written.


I supported the passage of this ordinance and was proud to do so. While I believe we need additional tools to support and encourage housing development in the City, this closes a loophole that was intended to specifically support low-income housing and is being misused because of unclarity in the law. The City is losing out on tax revenue that could be providing services to all residents.


The Mayor vetoed the ordinance. The Council has 30 days to override the veto from the date he issued it - and could do so at our May 16th meeting. An override requires a super-majority of the Council (10 votes).  We laid the veto override "on the table" at our last meeting on May 2nd after receiving additional input from low-income housing developers including two Ward 3 residents (thank you for reaching out!). Our Council Policy staff have been meeting with these stakeholders to ensure that as we implement this ordinance it works as intended to support low-income housing development.  


I feel confident in this ordinance and in the additional work our Policy Team has undertaken to ensure the low-income housing developers' voices were heard and responded to. I will be voting to override the veto on the 16th and encourage my colleagues to join me in doing so.


What Sue's Been Up To:


In addition to the budget review and committees and other policy work of the Council, I think it is critically important to be available to constituents and be active in our community. Over the last several weeks, I've been so glad to participate in several forums - including the Ward 3 Democratic Committee meeting with Senators Mack and Zurier and Rep. Kislak;  the Summit Neighborhood Association Annual Meeting;  the East Side outreach meeting on the Hazard Mitigation Plan update;  and a coffee hour meet and greet on Brenton Avenue.


I also co-hosted two Earth Day events -- a day of planting at North Burial Ground and a community trash clean up starting at the Morris Tot Lot - and participated in a trash pick up on/around North Main Street with Miriam Hospital.  I worked through a zoning issue with neighbors and business on Hope Street. I've been responding to lots of concerns about Rhode Island Energy and the state the roads have been in after gas pipe replacements, and I've been engaged with the Administration on work to address stormwater and flooding across the City (more to come on both of these!). I also always enjoy exchanging emails with constituents and answering questions - helping ensure folks can get connected to city services. I know there's always more to do, but please do reach out anytime!





In between newsletters, you can see updates on Facebook or Twitter or email me anytime by replying to this email.


Gratitude:

It is such an honor to serve you on the Providence City Council. I am so inspired by our residents and how you all give back to your community. From the folks who planted 30 trees along Cypress and Camp for Earth Day to the neighbor who spent her morning digging in to help me understand and learn more about the history of the conflicts in the Middle East -- you all give back in so many ways!

Councilors serve a 4-year term, so I am not up for re-election until 2026. But if you would like to support the on-going expenses of the campaign (like this regular newsletter!), donations are gratefully accepted by Friends of Sue AnderBois at this link. I try to keep fundraising to an absolute minimum.

Thank you!

Councilor Sue AnderBois

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