The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Friday, September 30, 2005

Council News- 9/30/05

The much ballyhooed San Antonio Crime District, which will be on the November ballot alongside the three state propositions seems to have hit a snag:

The City Council has postponed a decision — perhaps until after the November election — on the size of the permanent board that would oversee the proposed Crime Control and Prevention District.

Councilwoman Elena Guajardo had penned a six-signature memo asking for a resolution to create a seven-member board for the district, but she pulled the agenda item Thursday because of a lack of consensus among council members.

"It was the first time for us to really talk about the crime control district (as a full council meeting)," Guajardo said. "I really want the district and my constituents to really want this."

It seems the snag is on the exact number of board members- seven or eleven. There looks to be a school of thought that believes a smaller number of board members would be more cognizant of the city as a whole, rather than relying on an eleven member board that would, I presume, have a composition that looks alot like other city committees- one pick by each city council member within their district plus one citywide for the mayor. It'll be interesting to see which side wins out.

It also seems that Lowe's Hardware has decided not to face a losing battle and not build a store on their original plot over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. Seems they're gonna build it a little bit to the east... but still on the recharge zone:

Facing a likely "no" from the City Council, developers have pulled a rezoning request that would have allowed them to build a Lowe's Home Improvement Center on a 26.5-acre site over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

But the project, planned for the northeast quadrant of Loop 1604 and Bulverde Road, might not be going away. It could simply move a little to the east, also over the zone.

NECBUL 1604 Ltd., a partnership with ties to Birnbaum Property Co., controls 14 acres next to the 26.5-acre site for which it sought rezoning.

In August, David Ortiz, an attorney representing the developer, said it was a "realistic possibility" that the developer could put the big-box project on the smaller site if it didn't win the zoning case.

How can they do this? Two words- Grandfather clause. This city's zoning procedure and landuse ordinances always seem to blow my mind. Can't build on that piece of land over the recharge zone? Just move next door. You'll be just fine there. And with fewer restrictions too!

And therein lies the rub. On this other parcel of land, as Councilman Haass points out, they can build with very few environmental restrictions.

This always seems to be the point and time where I smack the palm of my hand against my forehead. I believe, like alot of people do, that there shouldn't be one lick of development over our recharge zone. It's ridiculous to do that. But at some point and time our elected officials and environmental activists have to be realists here. We may have won this re-zoning battle, but we lost this war with Lowe's. Instead of having them build on a regulated plot of land over the recharge zone, they get to build, free from virtually any constraints, on another portion of it. And now everyone's work was for naught.

Something else to think about- I've operated on the assumption that if you have to pick between Lowe's and Home Depot, you choose Lowe's because of their higher wages and better treatment of employees. Now this assumption could be totally false, but if it's not, who- as a Democrat- do you side with? Environmentalists or Labor? At that point and time is it really a matter of which issue you believe more in? Moving on.

The Current's new copy has a profile of Phil Hardberger's first 100 days in office. And while it's hardly Rooseveltian, he has managed to accomplish quite a bit. But here's something that I don't understand, if you have no criticism of the current incumbent right now, why would you still be looking to kick him out if the candidate you previously supported wanted to run again in '07?

James Aleman supported Hardberger opponent Julián Castro for mayor during the spring election with a $500 donation to his campaign war chest. Aleman refers to Castro as a "young Henry Cisneros," but says he has come to appreciate Hardberger, even though he would support Castro if he runs again for mayor. "To be honest, I have no criticism, not right now. I think he's been very impressive so far, trying to get the city together."

And if your candidate hops in, without any substantial criticism against the incumbent, what this race be doing but satisfying an ego and an urge to hold office?