Category: Birmingham City Council

Birmingham OKs Rezoning in West Birmingham Ahead of Possible Redevelopment Plan

Eight West Birmingham properties have been rezoned to make way for a federally funded “transformation plan” in the city’s Graymont, Smithfield and College Hills neighborhoods.

The properties rezoned by the City Council Tuesday include the Smithfield Library, the Smithfield Court Housing Community, the former Hill Elementary School and the former Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity headquarters, all of which were redesignated as either “mixed-use medium” or “multiple-dwelling districts” on Tuesday.

The rezoning is intended to support the city’s bid for a Choice Neighborhood Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city has been announced as a finalist for the $50 million grant, which would be used to redevelop much of the area surrounding Legion Field. Read more.

Ride Free on the Birmingham Bus Rapid Transit System! (At Least for Now)

The Birmingham Bus Rapid Transit system, also known as Birmingham Xpress, will be free for riders for at least the next few months — though exactly how long remains up in the air. A $300,000 payment approved Tuesday by the Birmingham City Council will cover the cost of eliminating BRT fares while the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority develops a new mobile payment application to encompass all of its services. Read more.

Residents Complain About Predatory Towing Downtown, Say It Will Stall Economic Development if Not Fixed

Matt Lyons said he’s not in favor of putting towing companies out of business.

“When your car’s broken down on the side of the road,” he said, “the tow company is your best friend. That being said, what I’m against is predatory towing, which takes advantage of the citizens of Birmingham only to enrich the owners of companies like Parking Enforcement Systems.”

Lyons was among a number of people who paraded to a podium Wednesday night at Boutwell Auditorium to talk about predatory towing practices in Birmingham. He recounted having paid for 3-hour parking as he attended a meeting, returning 30 minutes late to find that his car had been towed away.

“I think it’s very bad for the image of Birmingham,” he said.

City officials attended the meeting and told the crowd there are several measures are being considered to mitigate the towing issue. One calls for a 15-minute grace period before a car could be towed, Julie Barnard of the city attorney’s office said. Others included adding warnings on parking apps to check that entered information was entered correctly, and requiring towing companies to release towed vehicles to owners who have proof they paid for parking. Read more.

Birmingham to Air Proposal on Predatory Towing During Wednesday Public Hearing

The Birmingham City Council will hold a public hearing Wednesday to discuss predatory towing practices in the city.

For more than a decade, Parking Enforcement Systems, a private towing company operating in downtown Birmingham, has been the subject of numerous complaints over its practice of removing cars from downtown lots. In May 2013, the council approved an ordinance capping towing fees at $160 per vehicle — PES had been charging more than $280 — but complaints that the company has aggressive practices have continued. In one instance in September, a 29-year-old Birmingham resident was shot and killed on a Parking Systems Enforcement lot after an argument with a PES employee over a towed vehicle escalated into violence. Read more.

City Calls on Neighbors to Cut Overgrown Lots so City Can Concentrate on Parks

The city of Birmingham is shifting its strategy for dealing with overgrown private lots, encouraging landowners and neighbors to take more responsibility instead of relying on the city to address the problem.

“The city of Birmingham is not responsible for cutting private property,” Mayor Randall Woodfin told councilors Tuesday. “It is the responsibility of the owner of that private property … . We’ll continue to cut as many as possible, but I believe the public deserves the hard truth: there (are) not enough public tax dollars to cut every private lot, and we probably can’t get to your neighbor’s private lot more than once in a fiscal year.”

While the city seeks a “better way,” the mayor encouraged neighborhoods to collectively address overgrown lots themselves. Read more.

Need More Room for Garbage? City Says OK to Ordering Another Bin

Birmingham residents living in single-family homes can now order a second city-issued garbage cart. The Birmingham City Council approved revisions to the city’s garbage ordinance on Tuesday that will allow single-family residences to procure a second uniform trash bin for a $120 fee, which will cover the cost of the cart, delivery and one year of once-a-week pickup service. Some non-residential properties also now can purchase up to two uniform trash bins. Read more.

Bham Kicks in $1.3M to Build Restaurant in Downtown Parking Deck

A Birmingham restaurant will receive $1.3 million in city incentives to renovate part of a downtown parking deck into a 5,760-square-foot eatery.

Yo’ Mama’s, a counter-serve restaurant that has operated on Second Avenue South since 2014, will take over the ground floor of the city-owned Birmingham Parking Authority Deck 3, at 2098 Fourth Avenue North. The deck was initially constructed in 1976 and expanded in 2009, but that expansion left an incomplete, street-level retail space that the Birmingham Parking Authority unsuccessfully attempted to lease out over the subsequent 14 years. Read more.

Highland Park Restaurant Plans Set Off Residential Parking Permit Debate

The Birmingham City Council has paved the way for a new restaurant to open in Highland Park, despite residential concerns over traffic and parking capacity.

The council approved Tuesday a request to rezone the vacant property at 2614 Highland Ave. to allow for George’s, a new “city tavern” that developers said would hearken back to the nostalgic age of dining.

Residents said they already have trouble parking and doubt the neighborhood’s capacity for a full-service restaurant. Read more.

Birmingham City Council Opposes Water Works Bill That Would Dilute Its Influence

The Birmingham City Council has officially announced its opposition to a state bill that would cut two council-appointed seats from the Birmingham Water Works Board, with some councilors saying the Legislature is trying to wrest home rule from the city.

House Bill 177, sponsored by Rep. Jim Carns, R-Vestavia Hills, would reduce the number of BWWB seats from nine to seven, removing two of the four currently appointed by the council. Appointment authority over the remaining five seats on the board — two by the mayor of Birmingham and one each by the Jefferson County Mayors Association, the Shelby County Commission and the Blount County Commission — would remain unchanged.
On Tuesday, the council unanimously approved a resolution of opposition to the bill.

“This bill directly takes away two appointments from the council,” said District 1 Councilor Clinton Woods, who chairs the council’s Governmental Affairs and Public Information Committee. “That basically dilutes our ability to represent our ratepayers, who are the (board’s) largest bloc of ratepayers.” Read more.

Birmingham City Council Working on Plan for Overhaul of Water Works Board

As the Alabama Legislature considers a complete overhaul of the Birmingham Water Works Board, the Birmingham City Council is mulling its own legislation to meet state lawmakers halfway.

For the second week in a row, the council on Tuesday postponed action on an ordinance that would place additional prerequisites on its BWWB appointees. The proposal, which first appeared on the council’s April 11 agenda, would tighten background and training requirements for council appointees.

The language in the delayed ordinance closely echoes a bill currently being considered by the Alabama Legislature, which would add similar strictures to board appointees. But the Legislature’s bill, HB177, would go much further, firing all current board members and reducing the number of BWWB directors from nine to seven — removing two council-appointed seats from the board entirely.
Read more.