Katy City Council discussed public safety, commercial businesses in residential areas and the possibility of recording council meetings at its June 17 meeting.
The council followed up on a previous request made by Council Member Frank O. Carroll at the April 22 meeting on behalf of police Chief Noe Diaz to add four police officers and two patrol vehicles to the Katy Police Department.
There are three vacancies at the police department, and the current budget can cover one patrol vehicle and two police officers to begin in July, City Administrator Byron J. Hebert said. The city is waiting to hear from the Katy Management District—which covers several acres of the Katy area, including Katy Mills—to determine if the organization will fund costs to employ an additional patrol vehicle and two police officers beginning in August.
A police substation recently reopened at Katy Mills after closing in 2011 when building maintenance responsibilities began to fall on police officers, whose priority was keeping residents safe, Mayor Bill Hastings said. Another factor contributing to the closure of the substation was lack of funding, he said.
When council members asked if the substation has been an asset to the city of Katy, Diaz said several arrests related to organized shopping crimes have been made since the first operational day May 1.
The council denied a special-use permit allowing a bed-and-breakfast at 2650 Ave. D at the meeting.
Katy Planning and Zoning Commission members unanimously denied a proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance, which would have allowed a special-use permit for the bed-and-breakfast May 28.
The ordinance specifically targeted a home listed by Airbnb superhost Linse Meadows, who is also a real estate investor.
During public comments, neighbors expressed safety concerns, voiced noise complaints coming from the home and said Meadows' listing was no ordinary Airbnb listing, but rather a bed-and-breakfast failing to comply with residential zoning laws. Meadows was not in attendance to address the council.
“This is not the place for that kind of event or venue,” Council Member Durran C. Dowdle said.
Some residents said they have some documentation of what goes on in the home and had printed the listing to show it was different than standard Airbnb listings.
"The strangers renting the property have a complete disregard for neighbors and city ordinances," neighbor Kathleen Wedemeyer said. "It's disrespectful to live in a community and not abide by city ordinances."
Council Member Janet Corte said one of the reasons she ran for office was to keep commercial areas separated from residential, and since the Airbnb is advertised as an event venue, she, along with all council members, voted to deny the listing to continue as a bed-and-breakfast venue.
“It definitely has been a nuisance to neighbors,” Council Member Chris Harris said. “I vote 'yes' to deny the bed-and-breakfast.”
Recording City Council meetings
Council members took the first step toward eventually recording Katy City Council meetings for community members who wish to get involved and be informed but cannot make it in person.
Carroll said the city is behind compared to other entities that already record their meetings—including Katy ISD, Fulshear and Houston City Council.
Corte expressed concerns about whether the commitment to record City Council meetings would extend to volunteer boards and if that would cause residents to become hesitant to volunteer. She suggested a workshop to learn about how other cities are recording their meetings and to get more information about costs, server space and determining what is needed to move forward.
"This is the first step of a journey of a thousand miles," Hebert said.
In other business:
• Hastings signed a street light request agreement with CenterPoint Energy for 14 street lights on Spring Green Boulevard between Morgan Parkway and South Firethorne Road.
• A motion was passed to use up to $200,000 to make emergency repairs to water well No. 7 at water plant No. 5, which will be down for approximately two weeks. The city of Katy has asked residents to limit outdoor water use—including for gardens, windows and cars—while the repair in underway.
Keep Katy Beautiful presents an award to Old Town Katy Floral for making downtown Katy beautiful.[/caption]