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Norman City Council members create committee to address homelessness, discuss bus system, more at meeting

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Norman City Council

A Norman City Council meeting Sept. 11, 2018.

The Norman City Council met to discuss a wide range of issues concerning the city, including the bus system, and created a committee to address Norman homelessness.

The council held its biweekly meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The meeting covered 62 agenda items and held the first of two public hearings on the University North Park Tax Increment Finance. 

The council unanimously voted to proclaim Oct. 24 as World Polio Day, Oct. 28 as Immigrants Day and November 2019 as Veteran's Month and Native American Heritage Month in Norman.

Earlier that evening, one citizen came forward with concerns regarding a lack of fares collected from bus passengers. 

“There’s a lot of growing pains going on. The biggest observation that I see is with the lack of fares being collected. We have a significant population of homeless people getting — especially on the Alameda bus — (on) with all their belongings and laying on the seats, and there’s nowhere for the general public to sit,” she said. 

This summer, the city began operating Norman routes that OU no longer wanted to operate — the university had been running CART routes since 1980, but told the city last year that it no longer wanted to operate all the routes. City routes are now run by Embark, the government entity that operates Oklahoma City’s public transportation.

Ward 6 Councilmember Bill Scanlon shared views on the city buses that drew some comparison.

“I rode the bus the other day. ... I had a chance to talk to Taylor Johnson, who’s running the bus service now,” Scanlon said. “I was impressed with his knowledge. I was impressed with his plans. He admits we have a lot to do. ... I got on the bus and said, ‘Is this a new bus?’ and he said, ‘No, it’s 16 years old.’ But it was very well maintained. ... I had fun riding the bus, but I learned a lot.”

The council also confirmed interim City Attorney Kathryn Walker as the official city attorney. Mayor Breea Clark said Walker is the first woman in Norman’s history to be appointed to that position. 

By way of the consent docket, the council created an ad hoc committee to address Norman homelessness. 

Ward 8 Councilmember Alex Scott, who is also running for the state senate, expressed gratitude for the creation of the committee during the allotted time for miscellaneous discussion.

“The homeless community has carried a certain stigma for a very long time. Homeless people are human people who experience human emotions and deserve to have access to basic services like healthcare, transportation. ... They have a right to this city, too,” said Scott.

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