Alder Grant Foster
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service
Alder Foster’s Updates
Police Reform, CGR Development, Vision Zero - D15 Update 6/15/20
Police Reform: Thank you to all that have written in over the past several weeks with calls for police oversight and reform. A resolution to create the Office of the Independent Monitor and Civilian Oversight Board by city ordinance was recommended by Finance Committee and Public Safety Review Committee last week and will be in front of the Common Council on Tuesday for a vote. Creation of both the office and board were the priority and foundational recommendations from the Madison Police Department Policy and Procedure Ad Hoc Committee Final Report that was published in October of last year and subsequently adopted by the Common Council. You can find more information about this committee and a link to the final report with all 177 recommendations here.
In addition to community control of policing, many of you have also been asking for budgetary reform in calls to Defund the Police. I strongly support shifting our funding away from measures that result in criminalization and incarceration and towards measures that improve public health and safety and will be working to push us in that direction with our 2021 budget.
2021 Budget: It may sound like a broken record to hear that this year's budget will be one of the toughest ever, but it is certainly the case. Rising costs for salaries and benefits for city workers, projections of significantly reduced revenues, and the familiar but devastating levy limits have us looking at an initial $20-25,000,000 gap in the 2021 budget. Our Finance team provided an initial look at the big picture during last week's Finance Committee meeting. You can see their presentation here.
CGR Development Proposal: Over 60 people attended Monday's public information meeting to hear about a proposal to demolish the buildings at 3900 Monona Drive and 109 & 207 Cottage Grove Road and construct 191 apartments and 3,000 ft of new commercial space in their place. You can find renderings of the proposal and additional details in my previous blog post here.
While some in attendance spoke in favor of elements of the proposal, many shared concerns ranging from the significant loss of commercial space, to concerns about traffic and parking, to the lack of green space and trees proposed on the site. I've also received emails from a number of constituents both in support and against elements of the proposal as currently imagined.
Some neighbors have suspected that this proposal is a 'done deal' and that their opinion won't count. I can tell you with confidence that there is nothing certain with this proposal at this point and that your opinion does count. The public information meeting on Monday was the first step in a process that will take at least several months to unfold. This is an important issue for our community and I will continue to provide updates on where things are at and about how residents can participate in the process. Ultimately, the Plan Commission and Common Council will need to grant approval of several items before a proposal can move forward. I will share more information, including a more specific timeline, once the application is filed with the city. Some key milestones in the timeline will include:
- Pre-application public information meeting (6/8/20)
- 30-day waiting period begins (6/9/20)
- Filing of demolition permit, rezoning, and conditional use applications (no sooner than 7/9/20)
- Public Hearing at Plan Commission for demolition and conditional use requests (TBD)
- Public hearing at Common Council for rezoning request (TBD)
In the meanwhile, I would encourage those interested in this project to review some of our adopted plans that will help guide the decision making for the Plan Commission and Common Council. Here are a few specific links for more relevant background:
- Our Comprehensive Plan (Imagine Madison) is our primary policy document guiding land use decisions. Several sections speak to our goals of adding density and development inside the city where possible:
- The Growth Framework Section (beginning on p. 14), shows this area as an identified transitioning "Activity Center".
- The Land Use and Transportation Section (p. 36 of the document) recommends concentrating the highest intensity development along transit corridors, downtown and at Activity Centers.
- The Neighborhoods and Housing Section (p. 48 & 50) includes Strategy 1: Create complete neighborhoods across the city where residents have access to transportation options and resources needed for daily living and Strategy 3: Increase the amount of available housing.
- The Cottage Grove Road Activity Centers Plan adopted just a few years back provides for more specific recommendations related to housing density and commercial activity in this area.
Some have asked me what my position is on this development. At this point I am focusing on representing the questions and concerns of the adjacent neighborhoods to the developer and continuing to gather feedback. Ultimately, I will only support a project that helps to implement our adopted plans and that is a benefit to our community. There are a number of tradeoffs involved in that evaluation and a number of unanswered questions with the current proposal.
While I support the addition of desperately needed housing and feel that this is a location that can support it, I share a number of the concerns that have been raised so far and am especially concerned with the proposal to eliminate 30,000 square feet of affordable commercial space that has been the anchor for this corridor and for the adjacent neighborhoods for many decades. Stay tuned.
COVID Update: Public Health Madison & Dane County's most recent order moves us into 'Phase 2' of reopening this week. This allows for up to 50% occupancy at businesses and mass gatherings of up to 100 people outdoors (50 indoors). You can find their press release with additional details here. In spite of the continued relaxation of restrictions, they note that 1 in 4 people who recently tested positive in Dane County didn't know where they were exposed to COVID-19. A high percent of cases with no known route of disease transmission means there is likely a large number of people unknowingly spreading the disease in our community. To manage the epidemic and help prevent a spike in cases, they urge everyone in our community to:
- Limit your social bubble
- Minimize your trips out
- Gather outside instead of inside
- Continue to participate virtually
- Get tested if you need it
- Continue to maintain prevention measures
Allies Rally for Black Lives: Join allies, accomplices and co-conspirators in the fight for Black Lives this coming Monday, June 15 at 4pm and demand that Madison act now to defund the police and invest in Black people! Details here.
Common Council Meeting: This week's council meeting has several items of possible interest to D15 residents. You can see the full agenda, including information on how to submit a comment or register to speak on any item on the agenda here.
- 33. Creating MPD Independent Civilian Oversight - The 2nd alternate charges a small group of alders with drafting the ordinance that will implement the recommendations to create an Independent Monitor and Civilian Oversight Board. I am a cosponsor of this resolution and am happy to see broad support on the council for this measure. This work is expected to be completed in the next couple months after which we can begin recruitment for the monitor and board members.
- 69. Adopting and endorsing a Vision Zero policy to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries that are a result of crashes on streets and paths within the City of Madison by 2030 - A resolution to adopt and endorse Vision Zero policy will move us towards addressing one of the most pressing public health issues in Madison: death and serious injury on our city streets. I am a cosponsor of this resolution that is being introduced for referral at Tuesday's meeting.
- 70. Approving the Proposed Vision Zero 2020 Project List - During last year's budget, I proposed an amendment to commit $300,000 in capital funding to address known issues at some of the most dangerous locations in the city. The list of proposed improvements has been submitted by Traffic Engineering staff and includes lowering the speed limit on Milwaukee Street from 35 mph to 25 mph from Stoughton Road to Thompson Drive.
Alcohol License Review Committee: Two D15 items will be on the ALRC agenda on Wednesday. Please send me your input on either item so that I can share with the committee or find the details of how to provide comment via the published agenda here.
- 43. Change of Licensed Premise for Brothers 3 - Add outdoor patio with capacity of 40. Hours of outdoor food and drink service occur from 9am-9pm daily.
- 46. Request to Appear Before the ALRC for Jo Beck's - An opportunity for the ALRC to address the issues that were raised during the license renewal process this year
Assessment Notices & Open Book Process: Assessment notices will be mailed June 19. A period for "examination of the assessment roll" (open book) will begin June 22 and close July 3. You can find more details here.
Madison's 2020 Virtual Solstice Celebration!: The organizers of the Starkweather solstice celebrations have worked to create a virtual summer solstice this year. Click here for more details and for the participation link.
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