Constituent Newsletter

Consider volunteering with Room At The Inn this winter

October 30, 2016

Dear Constituent:

Room At The Inn

It’s difficult for me to imagine the utter misery and fear involved in a life on the streets - especially at night, especially in the winter.

Compassion for people who face this predicament led a coalition of Columbia churches to launch the Room At The Inn Winter Shelter, several years ago. Dedicated volunteers have worked extremely hard to establish a program that provides a warm, safe place for as many as 50 homeless guests to sleep during the coldest months of the year.

My family and I first volunteered for Room At The Inn in 2013 and we have been back every winter since then. In addition to providing potentially life-saving humanitarian assistance to others, I have benefited tremendously from the experience - it has helped me see how a series of unfortunate events can create a personal catastrophe, it has given me a greater understanding of the suffering and injustice that exists in this community and elsewhere, and it has also opened my eyes to the positive impact people can have if they put their minds to it.

The 2016-17 Room At The Inn opens next weekend - here’s the schedule:

  • Dec 4 - 18: Unitarian Universialist Church
  • Dec 18 - Jan 2: Fairview United Methodist Church
  • Jan 2 - 29: Broadway Christian Church
  • Jan 29 - Feb 12: Missouri United Methodist Church
  • Feb 12 - 19: First Presbyterian Church
  • Feb 19 - Mar 1: First Baptist Church

Please consider volunteering - training is provided and there are lots of different shifts and ways to help - sign up here.

Rental Energy Efficiency Forum

The issues of homelessness, affordable housing and energy efficiency are closely related.

High energy bills can push the cost of housing out of the reach of low-income residents, leading to a slippery slope and catastrophe for some. In 2015, one third of all renters in Columbia spent more than 50% of their income on rent and utilities and, in spite of various payment plans designed to help those who fall behind, one in ten residential customers are disconnected every year for non-payment.

To discuss how energy efficiency programs and policies may be able to help address this problem, the Columbia/Boone County Environment and Energy Commission (EEC) is hosting a Rental Energy Efficiency Forum on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 at 7 p.m. in City Hall rooms 1A/1B. The purpose of this public meeting will be to gather ideas on how to increase energy efficiency in residential rental properties - it will include an educational presentation followed by small group discussions. Feedback and prioritized suggestions will be reported to Columbia City Council.

Refreshments will be provided. Registration is not required but appreciated - please register here.

Please Clear Your Sidewalks

As temperatures fall, we can expect our first snowfall of the winter before too long.

With that in mind, I want to remind you to clear the sidewalks abutting your property, so that everyone can continue to get around safely and conveniently. Please look out for your neighbors and make it a point of pride to ensure that your block or your neighborhood is safe and accessible. Low-income, elderly or disabled residents can call 573-874-1646, ext. 223 for assistance.

City law requires sidewalks to be cleared, and violators can receive a fine. To report a violation, please call 573-817-5050 - more information at the ComoSnow page.

Unified Development Ordinance

Columbia’s zoning code - the rules and regulations that govern land development, building construction, and use of property - is under review. Actually, it has been under review for about a decade and that process is expected to reach its conclusion in the first half of 2017 with the City Council adopting a new “Unified Development Ordinance.”

The 2007-08 visioning process (“Imagine Columbia’s Future”) and the 2013 comprehensive plan (“Columbia Imagined”) both called for major changes in the zoning code. As a result, consultants Clarion Associates and Ferrell Madden LLC were hired to review all of the public input and develop a major revision of the code - which is now known as the “Unified Development Ordinance” (UDO). Since early this year, the Planning and Zoning Commission has been studying the draft UDO and holding numerous, lengthy public hearings. Their recommendations to the City Council are expected in January, at which time the final decisions will be made before the ordinance is voted into law.

Important and controversial issues in the UDO include parking requirements, form-based versus use-based zoning, and historic building preservation. Whether or not you have followed the process so far, I want to hear what you think should be in the code - what types of buildings should be allowed; what should be required of developers; what should be prohibited?

Please email me with your thoughts - draft UDO and other information here.

Other Announcements

Donate toys or money to the Annual Almeta Crayton Memorial Toys for Columbia Youth Toy Drive at the information desk in City Hall or at the the main Park and Recreation office - more information here.

Provide COMO Connect with feedback and suggestions on the coverage, accessibility, performance, marketing, funding, and other goals for our bus system - complete this survey.

Constituent Conversations

Finally, next month’s Constituent Conversations will be on December 4th and 18th, 2-4pm at Dunn Brothers Coffee.

Cheers, Ian