Birmingham City Council 2023 Highlights

Birmingham City Council
13 min readDec 23, 2023

1) Parking and Towing Ordinance

Following a months-long process, with multiple public hearing and work sessions, the Birmingham City Council unanimously approved a comprehensive set of amendments to the City’s Parking and Towing Ordinances. These changes are meant to alleviate the concerns of residents and visitors to the city and mitigate instances of predatory towing.

Perhaps the most significant change that will help prevent confusion when parking on privately owned lots is the new requirement for uniform signage on all lots across the city. During the public hearing process, many residents voiced frustration with the fact that signage was ambiguous and not clearly labeled. The adopted amendments require these lots to have the uniform signage with hourly rates, times of operation, information on who to call if a car is towed and clearly labeled payment methods.

Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee has championed these efforts over the last several months, working in conjunction with the Mayor’s Administration.

“I think over the course of working on this and the public comments we’ve received, it’s a good example of how complicated it can be when making changes to the City’s code,” Councilor Darrell O’Quinn said. “I believe the uniform signage will have an immediate positive impact once they’re all up. On the second piece, it was crucial for us to update the regulations for how parking enforcement is performed on these lots. Hopefully these changes will help address the concerns we’ve heard over the course of working on this.”

There are likely additional changes that will need to be made, according to Councilor O’Quinn. “The important thing is, I believe today we made a substantial step forward in addressing the majority of complaints that we’ve been hearing from residents and visitors, alike.”

The Office of the City Attorney presented the proposed changes during a Town Hall held in June. Some of the other key points of the updated ordinances include, but are not limited to, increasing insurance requirements for operators; clarifying proof of payment to help drivers with dispute options; additional payment options — including the use of mobile and web payment systems. A pending component that was not adopted but is currently being considered is a complaint resolution process to streamline complaints and objections levied against the towing companies.

“These updates are going to completely change the way towing is handled in the city of Birmingham,” Councilor Hunter Williams said following the vote. “This will ensure that there is a unified process on how towing will be done and as we move forward, every tow lot will be required to display signs so that citizens are aware of the rules and know what they can expect.”

2) Blues in the Ball Park

Councilor Carol Clarke will be hosted a free Blues in the Ballpark concert series at historic Rickwood Field on Saturday, October 7th. This was a great opportunity for residents and families to step back in time to the soulful rhythms of the past as the legendary baseball stadium is transformed into a good old-fashioned Blues joint.

There were performances by Ms. Johnnie and the Jammers, Charles “Sugar Harp” Burroughs, Jose Ramirez, “Hurricane Elaine” Hudson, and many more.

“There is nothing that’s uniquely American as Blues and Baseball and we wanted to take this opportunity to marry those two things together with this event,” Councilor Carol Clarke said. “I think that Blues, which is one of our greatest contributions to the world, has been under represented here and I’m looking forward to everyone coming together and enjoying it in a very unique venue. We owe a great deal of credit and gratitude to the Friends of Rickwood Field who have acted as stewards for this incredible, historic facility and who have partnered with us for this event. I’d also like to thank the Magic City Blues Society for all their hard work to help make this possible.”

Following the concert on Saturday, October 7th, Rickwood Field will be undergoing a series of renovations leading up to next year’s MLB game on June 20th. This was a great chance for everyone to come and be a part of history as we brought the Blues back to the 113-year-old stadium that’s hosted players like Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige.

3) Broadband Expansion in Collegeville:

“I’m a firm believer that having access to information is a sacred human right, especially in the world we are living in now. Knowledge helps us grow. Knowledge helps us improve our circumstances and our surroundings. Without it, we’re stuck in the mud,” Councilor JT Moore writes. Read more at the link below.

4) Operation LawnCARE

Operation LawnCARE, a collaboration between Councilor Clinton Woods and Rebirth Community Corporation, was back for it’s second year on Saturday, July 22nd.

On Tuesday, Councilor Clinton Woods presented a resolution honoring the hard work and commitment from the partnering agencies: Rebirth Community Corporation, Plus One Landscaping, and Spring Clean Lawn Service.

This initiative is about empowering our young people to make a difference in their community by providing them with training and equipment to mow lawns in their community, while also ensuring that yards of our senior residents are being maintained. Following the success of this initiative, Councilor Woods hopes to connect even more young people with the tools they need to start their own lawn care businesses.

“We’re excited to get to work on year three with this program where we reach out to single mothers and senior citizens, and go out and cut their grass,” Councilor Woods said. “The unique thing about this program is when we are working with single mothers of teenage children, we come out, cut the grass, and show the kids how it’s done. We then provide them with a lawn mower of their own so they can keep up with it moving forward.”

Overgrown lots have been a continual issue in neighborhoods across the city and Councilor Woods believes this initiative can empower young people to be difference makers in their neighborhoods. During the presentation, several Councilors expressed interest in expanding this partnership in their districts.

“Our hope is that these young people not only maintain their own yards, but also take that next entrepreneurial step and start cutting yards in their neighborhoods with their own business,” Woods said.

This past year, Operation LawnCARE connected with 15 single mother households in District 1 and provided them with lawn mowers. For anyone interested in volunteering or if you are in need of this service for your home, please visit:

Councilor Clinton Woods contributed ARPA funding for this upcoming year’s initiative!

5) Business Improvement District

The Council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing for the expansion of the Business Improvement District to encompass Five Points South and several blocks directly west of downtown, known as “the Switch District.”

So what does this mean exactly? In 1995 the City of Birmingham adopted an ordinance that created these districts (also known as CAP District, made distinctive by the safety ambassadors that patrol the area currently downtown). This levies property assessments for the businesses within the footprint as a way to provide supplemental services for them, including safety patrols, sidewalk sweeping, trash removal and more. Those resources are collected and used to fund the services. “Think of it as a self improvement district for businesses,” REV CEO David Fleming told the Council.

Property owners within the new footprint that account for over 50 percent of the assessed property value, signed the petition for the new Business Improvement District. Currently, there are over 1,000 Business Improvement Districts across the country that show positive case study results that empower business owners and increase vibrancy in urban areas.

During a recent Committee of the Whole Meeting, Five Points Alliance Chairman Steve Alexander said the move would finally connect the area to the downtown in a way that improves safety and quality of life for residents and businesses alike.

“You’ve seen all the buildings going up in Five Points South. There has been a lot of investment in the area that’s giving a base for us to produce the kind of results that CAPs has seen downtown,” Alexander said. “Thank you all for supporting this.”

Councilor Crystal Smitherman, who represents the neighborhood, said this effort has been a long time coming. “We’ve had a lot of meetings with the business owners here in Five Points South and I know there has been a lot of support for this. I think anything we can do to increase public safety and the overall vibrancy in one of the city’s main entertainment destinations is a win-win for everyone,” Smitherman said.

Councilor Valerie Abbott, who represents portions of the new business improvement district, said she was in favor of the new designation. “This important because it will increase public safety and the perception of public safety for people walking around in this area,” Councilor Abbott said. “We’ve had a lot of issues lately with exhibition driving and people experiencing mental health issues walking into businesses and traffic. I think having a Business Improvement District will make a huge positive impact.”

6) Smithfield CHOICE Neighborhood Grant

Earlier this year, members of the Birmingham City Council joined U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge and Congresswoman Terri Sewell for the announcement that the Smithfield community has been awarded a $50 million CHOICE Neighborhood Grant.

The primary goal of the CHOICE Neighborhoods Initiative is to address the challenges faced by distressed neighborhoods and create positive, lasting change. This involves replacing or rehabilitating obsolete public housing, promoting affordable housing, and implementing community and economic development strategies.

The $50 million grant is part of a $282.9 million revitalization effort that is bringing multiple partners together to completely transform the Smithfield Community.

Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who represents Smithfield, said this is the beginning of a generation of change for the historic neighborhood.

“Under any circumstances, I would celebrate this moment for Smithfield and Birmingham. However, I have also been granted the honor to serve as City Councilor for this neighborhood. As such, my joy runneth over. The District 5 motto is, ‘The Power of You.’ I firmly believe that every person no matter their station has the capacity to have a positive impact on their community. Today we see the Power of You writ large. To those among you who believed, who preserved in the face of doubt, and refused let our past define our future, please know that you have our profound gratitude.”

HUD encourages collaboration among various stakeholders, including residents, local government, nonprofits, and private businesses. Engaging the community in the planning process is an essential aspect of the CHOICE Neighborhoods Initiative.

In addition to the CHOICE Neighborhood Grant, Councilor O’Quinn has also pledged a significant portion of his office’s discretionary American Rescue Plan Act funding to supplement the improvements coming to Smithfield. Throughout the course of this process, Councilor O’Quinn has continued meeting with residents to receive feedback on improvements they’d like to see in the neighborhood.

The City will be contributing $35 million in matching funds over the eight-year term of the grant.

Some of the projects that will be made possible through this federal funding include, but are not limited to, a state-of-the-art Smithfield library, a workforce development center, a senior living development, an early learning center, affordable housing units (roughly 1,100 units total) and mixed use developments. The goal is to reconnect the Smithfield neighborhood with the downtown corridor and create economic opportunities for residents.

This is the third time the City has applied for this federal grant over the years. “None of this would be possible without the perseverance and vision of Mayor Woodfin’s administration and the Community Development team who has worked tirelessly with our residents and city officials over the years to make this possible,” O’Quinn said.

Council President Wardine Alexander believes this development will lead to catalytic growth for more communities west of I-65 that have been historically underserved.

“I extend my deepest gratitude to all the stakeholders, community members, and city leaders that have worked together to develop this comprehensive neighborhood transformation plan,” Council President Wardine Alexander said. “This plan is not just about improving housing; it’s about fostering holistic development, ensuring access to community resources, and building a strong foundation for economic growth and prosperity. This grant is a testament to our collective dedication to create a better future for all our residents.”

7) Credible Messenger and violence intervention programs

Birmingham City Councilor LaTonya Tate is working to build a sustainable ecosystem for public safety in Birmingham. It’s an uphill climb, but she’s been up for the challenge since being elected in 2021.

Most recently, Councilor Tate has provided funding for two nationally renown crime reduction organizations; in January she spearheaded a partnership with the Aspen Institute with $275,000 in her office’s American Rescue Plan Act funds, and last month provided another $200,000 to the Credible Messenger Program.

Together, these two organizations are part of the foundation that Councilor Tate is establishing to identify areas of need and provide resources and mentorship opportunities to at-risk youth in Birmingham.

“When you’re talking about tackling the issue of crime in Birmingham, it’s important to understand that this isn’t an issue that popped up overnight, nor is it something we can work our way out of in a day. Solutions take time and we’re currently laying the groundwork to fight back on these systemic issues,” Councilor Tate said. “You have to give people hope. We’re seeing a lot of ‘crimes of despair’ in our communities and in order to change that, we have to rethink the way we’ve been addressing these issues.”

The first step, Councilor Tate says, is getting a better understanding of where crime is taking place and gathering as much data as possible. That’s where the Aspen Institute can help.

The goal of this partnership is to collect and compile crime data so that a comprehensive analysis of how local law enforcement resources are being used and how they can best be deployed to serve areas in need. This approach will allow for acute analysis on a neighborhood level across all nine districts.

According to representatives with the Aspen Institute, the data that is collected will be made fully available to both the Council and to members of the public. Even information such as how many court summons or traffic stops are taking place in each neighborhood will be available for public consumption once the program is underway, according the Aspen Institute.

“This is a revolutionary approach to how we look at crime data and how we can interpret that information in a way that benefits the entire city,” Councilor Tate said.

Birmingham faces a unique set of challenges, being the largest metropolitan area in a state that consistently ranks at the top of all statewide statistics when dealing with

firearms. For the first six months of 2022, there were an estimated 428,400 guns sold in Alabama, which is enough to rank the state sixth in gun sales.

On January 1, 2023 Alabama became the 25th state to allow for permitless concealed carry, a move that has drawn criticism from Councilor Tate who chairs the Public Safety Committee and who has a background in corrections.

The new law allows anyone over the age of 18 (who does not have any legal restrictions to own a firearm) to legally carry a concealed handgun in public. “We’ve already seen a proliferation of people who carry guns in our city and the men and women tasked with protecting our communities already have enough to deal with,” Councilor Tate said. “I do not see how this makes anything easier or safer for law enforcement or the general public for that matter.”

In 2022, 49 youth (age 13 to 22) lost their lives to gun violence in Birmingham. Councilor Tate said she has concerns over the impact the new bill could have on young people’s access to firearms and normalizing people carrying them.

This is where Councilor Tate believes the partnership with Credible Messenger can have a monumental impact on the lives of young people in Birmingham.

Credible messengers are individuals who have personal experience and background that allow them to connect with and influence young people who may be at risk of engaging in violence or other harmful behaviors. These messengers are often respected and trusted within the communities they serve due to their own life experiences and transformations. Credible messengers can effectively reach and guide at-risk youth by drawing from their own stories of overcoming challenges, making positive changes, and avoiding violence.

With the funding provided by Councilor Tate, the organization is looking to hire up to 40 men to be caseload managers in Birmingham.

“This will have an immediate real world impact, and this is exactly why this program has been successful across the country,” Councilor Tate said. “We have a lot of credible people who live here and who want to step into these mentorship roles. It takes resources and people to be able to do this, and I’m grateful to be in a position to help fund this important work. I believe it will have a transformative impact on an entire generation of kids here.

“This is a very though-out and robust opportunity for this city. A lot of key components of this really stick out to me, especially the need to do away with ‘working in siloes’ as it’s been described. I really like the idea of multiple organizations partnering together to make sure our young people aren’t just going in and out of the system, but providing support to their families to make sure their environment is one that will lead to success. These are the kinds of strategies that can make a difference in reducing crime and that’s what we’re focused on moving forward.”

8) Councilor Smitherman’s fresh food initiatives:

Building equity in our community, especially as it relates to food insecurity, must start with ensuring healthy, affordable food options for residents that live in one of Birmingham’s designated food deserts.

In so many communities across Birmingham, the only food retailers available are “Dollar Stores” which only offer highly-processed foods. The proliferation of these stores is a major factor in preventing larger grocery stores from wanting to locate to these areas. They also undercut grocery stores that are currently operating here.

“In 2020, I joined my colleagues in passing legislation to prevent more of these stores from opening in underserved communities,” Councilor Smitherman said. “For the second year in a row, I partnered with local farmers and vendors to for monthly farmer’s markets across District 6 in Birmingham. Not only was this an opportunity for residents to access fresh produce, but it also allowed them to build relationships with local farmers.”

9) Councilor Hunter Williams leads the way for economic development



Birmingham City Council

Tweets from The Birmingham City Council in Birmingham, Alabama