Sunday, July 3, 2016

Short Term Rentals


With the AirBNB issue on the front burner, I guess it is time to talk about some of the issues.  A couple of years ago we had a party house that went viral on several weekends and the neighbors were fed up with the actions of the short term renters.  I brought this forward to Council and there was little appetite for a resolution at that time.  It was determined that it would be advantageous to list the residence with the city and if they were rented as short term rentals then a hotel tax should be added, because it took away from the business of our hotels.  It would also register the home so we could see if there recurring issues with certain rentals.   Now this is part of the economic impact that our city has because we enjoy a vibrant entertainment district.  People will come here for any number of events. One such event that was problematic was Texas/OU weekend.  You can imagine students renting a 5,000 sq/ft plus house to party for the weekend next to your home.  This is what we need to stop! 

Now I believe that there are legitimate and responsible people that can rent their homes without the discourse that some irresponsible owners allow.   That is where some regulation and guidance would be advised.  Austin doesn’t allow you to rent you’re home unless you are the resident of that home.  This would allow people to rent their own home for events such as Super Bowls and World Series etc.  This also would preserve home owner’s rights, which is a big issue.  The second possibility would be to have the home owner live within a certain distance from the rental property, say 300 ft.  That way if there was a problem then the neighbors would have recourse to the owner that lives in the immediate area.

If you own a property, you should have certain rights.  One of those rights is to rent the home to help defer the cost of the mortgage.  But the rights of the owner should not allow the degradation of the neighborhood.  The problem is that there are good landlords and there are also slumlords that only care about cash flow.  The city will have to regulate for the lowest common denominator, to insure that neighborhoods are protected and still uphold property owner’s rights.  That is why I brought this back up to the Council as a new agenda item.  I suggest that you watch the June 28th afternoon session of the meeting, on the city website.  It is very informative and will give you an idea as to the depth of this issue.

Now some people say that this is the same thing as running a business in a neighborhood, zoned for residential.  No it is not.  The swinger’s house was in fact a business that had a revenue stream dedicated to providing a service.  Renting your home does, in fact provide a revenue stream.  But the service is shelter, just like the homeowner next door, and we are all entitled to shelter.  If a homeowner rents his home for a year, we don’t know what that renter is like.  They might be very nice people.  The duration of the rental seems to be the problem, because if there is a more frequent turnover of the inhabitants, then there is an increasing the possibility of problematic tenants.  That is why I think the city should look at this issue and come up with a solution. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Jeff Mosier's Article

Jeff Mosier wrote this article in response to Brett Shipp's biased investigative piece written this week.
Jeff has the integrity to tell the truth about the contract with the Rangers.  His article follows:




People nationwide are wondering if the proposed $1 billion Texas Rangers stadium is essentially a scam of Arlington taxpayers after investigative reporting this week by WFAA-TV (Channel 8) bulldog Brett Shipp.
His story — picked up nationally — said the city-team contract features a secretive provision that increases Arlington taxpayers’ share of the deal from 50 percent to 80 percent. Shipp described this as something they didn’t want “you to see and aren’t eager to talk about.”
 Popular sports website Deadspin picked up Shipp’s story and concluded: “Spending public money on stadiums to give to billionaires is bad. Stop. [Expletive]. Doing it.”
The story was also aggregated by Yahoo NewsNBC Sports blog Hardball Talk and conservative website Breitbart.
The report brought up both long-running concerns about stadium financing but missed the mark in several aspects when it comes to the details, including the basic math.
This story doesn’t go into the debate about public financing of stadiums; that’s another story entirely. But here’s what you need to know about the stadium deal. 
What are the parking and ticket taxes?
The story’s gotcha element is the possible parking and ticket taxes. Those taxes haven’t officially been added to the deal, but they seem likely to happen.
If approved, the city would create a tax of up to 10 percent on Rangers stadium tickets and up to $3 on Rangers stadium parking. But the revenue would count toward the Rangers’ share of the debt rather than the city’s.
Using as a template AT&T Stadium — which has the same parking and ticket taxes — Shipp estimated this could raise about $300 million for the Rangers’ portion of the debt. When adding that chunk to the city’s $500 million share of the debt — where the report said it belongs — he estimated Arlington taxpayers would be hit with $800 million in debt or about 80 percent of the stadium cost.
But city officials pointed out this fails to take into account interest.
That $300 million Shipp calculated would actually pay off $120 million in debt, not $300 million. He said this city’s deal isn’t even close to 50-50. But math says it isn’t close to 80-20.
Arlington taxpayers’ debt load
The report also misses by continually referring to Arlington taxpayers and their share of the debt burden.
The parking and ticket taxes would be paid by those who go to the game. Some are Arlington residents. Some live outside the area. Also, roughly half the city’s sales tax money comes from nonresidents. While that $500 million debt is on the city’s ledger, about half will be paid by outsiders.
Precise numbers weren’t immediately available. But it’s possible that Arlington residents will pay for about 30 percent of the stadium, even when factoring in the parking and ticket taxes.
The numbers can tell varied and contradictory stories.
Reason for the taxes
The Rangers could have generated the same amount of money by raising ticket prices and parking fees by an equivalent amount. But doing it this way allows them to get a lower interest rate, since the bonds are backed by a dedicated revenue source.
The city considers this part of the team’s debt since the Rangers on the hook for the debt, not the taxpayers. If the revenue falls short, the city would charge the Rangers additional rent to make up for the shortfall.
That actually happened early on at the Cowboys’ new stadium. The parking and ticket taxes didn’t initially generate enough revenue so the Cowboys paid extra rent to meet the bond’s obligations. Those taxes are paying for nearly $148 million worth of bond debt for that football stadium.
There are many, though, who think this is sneaky math on the part of the city and the Rangers. They argue that these are taxes that are being handed over to a private business.
Same story, different team
The same complaints were lobbed against the Cowboys stadium project about a decade ago. The opposition to the use of those taxes was covered extensively back then by The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram as well as by Shipp.
Here’s an excerpt from a 2004 Dallas Morning News story I wrote shortly before early voting started for the Cowboys’ new stadium:
Q: Is this a 50-50 deal between Arlington and the Cowboys?
A: To borrow from past presidential politics, it depends on how you define the question. The city would pay $325 million or half of the cost, whichever is less. Supporters say that means that if there are cost overruns, the city is protected. Opponents have criticized that assertion, saying that the Cowboys will have part of their debt funded by an additional tax on tickets and parking. Also, they explained that the Cowboys would get almost all the revenue from the stadium.
Was the city trying to hide these taxes?
Shipp also popped on the Dennis and Friedo show at KESN-FM (103.3) Wednesday to discuss the stadium deal and said he knew when the Rangers stadium was announced that there would be a similar tax provision.
“Guess what? I found it,” he told the hosts. “Hell, it’s on Page 2. They didn’t even try to hide it. It’s just nobody decided to read it. But I read it, and I did the math. And the math means essentially that the citizens of Arlington will being paying for 80 percent — at least 80 percent — of that stadium, if it gets built.”

Arlington officials said the use of the parking and ticket taxes for the Rangers’ portion of the stadium debt wasn’t a secret. It wasn’t mentioned in press releases, but the information was widely available to the media and public.
Those taxes were featured in a pair of PowerPoint presentations Arlington City Manager Trey Yelverton gave to the City Council last month, when the deal was approved.
The taxes also were mentioned in the stadium deal frequently asked questions on the city’s new Rangers stadium web page.
In addition to other sources of funding, the Texas Rangers plan to utilize user fees to support construction of the new ballpark. These user fees could include a tax on admission tickets, a parking tax, and revenue from the sale of individual ‘Stadium Builder Licenses’ that enable the license holder to buy tickets for certain seats in the new ballpark. The City would issue these bonds, which are backed solely by ticket and parking taxes and not by any other source of tax revenue.
City officials initially ignored Shipp’s report but assembled this public statement after questions from The News.
“The city has endeavored to be as transparent as possible by providing all documents on a public website and making public announcements and presentations about the deal well in advance of a City Council vote to call an election,” Marketing Communications Manager Jay Warren said in a written statement. “Additionally, this was announced six months prior to a possible election, giving the public ample time to make an informed decision.
The statements from the city were measured. A press release issued Thursday afternoon from the Arlington Chamber of Commerce was a little less so, describing the story as “grossly inaccurate.”
“There has been a steady stream of biased coverage about the new Rangers ballpark from Dallas media,” wrote Michael Jacobson, president and CEO of the Arlington Chamber. “I am sure they have their motives, and it is possible that they are not in the best interests of Arlington. But the good news is outside forces will not make this decision. We are fortunate that Arlington’s future rests in the hands of our citizens on November 8th who will vote yes to keep our beloved Rangers in Arlington.”

In a way, they can agree on that.




Monday, June 13, 2016

Mayor Richard Greene's Article


All kinds of myths and imaginary scenarios have appeared in the news, commentary and social media since the announcement of a new Texas Rangers ballpark. One of the most misleading areas of discussion unfolded in the wake of the latest plans to ensure that the Rangers remain right where they belong — in Arlington.  It’s the irrational conjecture by some that Dallas isn’t really trying to lure the team, and they cannot afford the cost of building a downtown stadium.  To realize how nonsensical that is we need only to be reminded that efforts to steal the Rangers began 27 years ago when the team’s ownership changed hands.
Newspapers repeatedly declared the team would be moving to Dallas, that plans were already drawn up, and multiple downtown locations were available.  Facing that serious threat, Arlington voters saw to it that the Rangers’ future would unfold in a new ballpark that opened in 1994.
About two years ago, knowing the current lease on the Arlington ballpark was coming to maturity, Dallas dusted off its old plans and resumed its determination to steal the team.  Current team owners didn’t ask Dallas to do that. They never needed to because Dallas leaders were aggressive in their efforts to entice the team.
Arlington officials learned of the renewed initiatives from Dallas City Council members who couldn’t manage to conceal their enthusiasm.  The forces at work included the current mayor, who had declared, upon his election, that relocating the Rangers was a major goal.  He had the support of Downtown Dallas Inc., its CEO who has acknowledged the organization’s role, and its nearly 100 board members with vital interests in the future of the central business district.
Among those leaders are the city’s bankers, investment managers, utility company executives, real estate moguls, lawyers, accountants, news media chiefs, architects, landowners, tourism officials, oil barons, hotel owners and managers, retailers, transit officials, construction company owners and politicians.  The president of the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce, a former Rangers officer, is among them, thereby opening up an entire support system beyond downtown.  Obviously, they have a huge jackpot to win by bringing the Rangers and their 3 million fans to town and driving incalculable monetary benefits to them all.
What about the question of how Dallas would fund a new billion-dollar retractable domed stadium?  First, the Rangers would likely pay for half the cost — just as they have agreed to do in the Arlington proposal.  Entirely believable reports say the city of Dallas, not needing voter approval, would arrange financing for maybe half the remaining cost.   With an annual city budget exceeding $3 billion, payment on that much new debt is entirely doable.  That leaves the remaining money coming from the downtown interests named above.
Take a look at who these people are. Imagine the magnitude of their immense personal and corporate wealth.  Then consider what hosting a major-league baseball team will mean to them in terms of financial gain. When you do, the realization of how and why they would come up with that investment would be obvious.  Don’t be surprised if any of those identified above now equivocate about their plans or deny the structure of the deal being worked out.  When so many are involved in such a scheme, it’s hard to keep it under wraps.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Rangers


Well today the cat got let out of the bag.  No more secrecy.  The Rangers will be staying in Arlington for the next 37 years!  Right?  Not so fast.  The Rangers will be staying in Arlington if the voters approve the continuation of the 1/2 cent sales tax after AT&T Stadium is paid off.  The purpose of the sales tax continuation is to buy ½ of a new retractable roof stadium for the Rangers to play in for those 37 years.

Why the urgency since the Rangers have a contract to play here for the next 8 yrs?  The Rangers were being pursued by our friends from the east.  Dialogue from a billionaire was started and overtures were made that perked the ears of certain people in local government.  Although we had been talking to the Rangers for a few years,  this accelerated the process.   We had formulated a partnership with the Rangers,  and the Cordish Group for Texas Live, and a new 300 room hotel.  The new ballpark will be an extension that will perpetuate the synergy at the stadiums for decades to come.  However more additions to the Texas Live project might be added in the future.

What would happen to the old ball park?  The City and the Rangers are in discussions concerning the future of Globe Life Park.  Some signature elements could be preserved like the fa├žade, and the Center Field Office spaces.  Some Retail could remain and or be added.  But most likely an office development, some parking features and/or possibly the extension of Texas Live will be Globe Life’s future.

What is the timeframe for the building of a new Stadium?  With the Rangers providing the initial funding as early as 2017, the hope is that construction will start in that year, with play starting in 2021.

Why not just put a roof on the existing ball park?  In order to roof the existing stadium it would cost around $900 million, and I’m certain that it would look terrible like the Mariners Stadium in Seattle.  Essentially it looks like a huge erector set sitting off to the south of the field, hideous!  This new domed/retractable stadium will serve the Rangers fans for decades to come in air-conditioned comfort or when the weather is nice the roof will be opened.

Before I close I wanted to add that the $500 million expenditure for the stadium will return $2.53 billion to the community over the course of paying off the bonds.  Anytime I can spend a buck and get five in return it’s probably a good thing.  I like 500% on my money even if it takes 30 yrs.

Remember that the future of the Rangers is in the hands of the people.  A “YES“ vote will keep the Rangers in Arlington, where as a “NO” vote will send them to Dallas.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Campaign


I guess I should make a comment on the elections.  The citizens of Arlington have chosen well, in that they have reverted to incumbents that are leading this city and school district down a path of progress to the future and improvement of our city and education system.  The two incumbents on Council that were unopposed are probably the most critical thinkers, and the best legislators, that currently sit on this panel.  It will be a pleasure for me to serve with them for another two year term.

Jamie Sullens is a consummate professional with her heart in the right spot concerning the education of our children.  She was also unopposed on School Board.  But John Hibbs did draw an opponent.  He ran a good campaign and was retained with a 75% victory.  One must remember that the school board has won the award of best school board in the state of Texas.  So the voters have decided to continue down that path of excellence.  

Seat 7 on the City Council was won by the best candidate in the race.  Victoria Meyer did a good job in her campaign.  She presented herself in a professional manner and was well prepared at each candidate’s debate. She invested in her campaign by putting out signs and getting her name recognized. Her opponent wore shorts, T-shirts and flip flops to the debates, and although seasoned due to numerous failed campaigns, did not put on a campaign at all.  Yet he still got 27% of the vote.  I find this peculiar at best.  1674 voters cast their ballots for this candidate, and I will never know why.  That leaves my race.

I feel blessed that I have tried to hold town hall meetings every six months to open lines of communication with my constituents.  Turn outs have been beyond my expectations because people want to know what is happening in their community.  What is happening in your community affects you on a daily basis and it is important that there be open dialogue and understanding.  I believe that this understanding is what drove me to a 69% victory over my opponent.  North Arlington is realizing the effects of capital investment at its best.  All the bulldozers and cranes are a sign of progress and redevelopment in our community.  I believe that my record of trying to knock down old crime infested slum apartments and building a new class of living experience is evident.  Property values are in fact on the rise.  The North is running on all cylinders.  Yes we have problems, but we are on the right path to solve those problems, and I thank you for allowing me to pursue those solutions for the next two years.

As an addendum I will add my opinion.  Saturday morning I witnessed the aftermath of a horrible accident at Center and I-30.  What I saw was a small car crushed from the rear.  Two people were still inside the car and the fire fighters were on their way.  The people were taken to two different hospitals in Ft. Worth with life threatening injuries.  The reason that I bring this up is the increase of accidents since the red light cameras have been removed.  In six months the accident rate has gone up 25% in those 19 intersections where the cameras were installed.  For me, this was the reason to keep the cameras, safety!  I have personally observed an increase in running red lights in Arlington.  I am certain that you have seen it also.  So be very careful, and look out for the other guy, because he isn’t looking out for you. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

General Motors and Arlington Commons

I haven't posted in awhile because the campaign for re-election has been taking up most of my time.  I apologize and hope to get back to a better schedule after Saturday.  I wanted to give you some good information about a few projects in our city.  The Dallas Business Journal gives awards each year for the best business deals in the Metroplex.  This year Arlington received to very prestigious awards. 


First was General Motors, won the Best Community Impact Deal.  Their $1.4 billion investment to their Arlington plant will have a remarkable influence on the economy of Arlington and will allow them to hire another 500 workers.  This ripple effect will contribute to the betterment of our community and will stimulate the local economy.  It will also insure that your kids and their kids will have jobs at General Motors for the next 40 yrs.


The other award was given to the Arlington Commons for the Best Suburban Multi-Family project in the Metroplex.  This is a $250 million project that has torn down over 700 slum/crime infested units and will be replacing them with a high end living opportunity for the people of North Arlington. This investment in our community combined with the $7.5 million dollars to upgrade Roquemore Elementary, the $5 million to upgrade Parkway Central Park and the $1 million in renovations for the strip mall on the south side of Lamar is crucial to the improvement of the Lamar/Collins Overlay.  This will increase the property value of the surrounding homes while decreasing the crime rate in the area.  I find it interesting that my opponent in my race for re-election is against this project.  Her opposition is based on the increase in occupancy, stress on sewer and other community services and the narrowing of Lamar.


An increase in occupancy, cannot be counted simply as the number of door knobs.  Some of the families that lived in the old apartments had 10 people living in a two and three bedroom units.  The new apartments will only be 1 and 2 bedroom units and the cost will be very high, reducing the number of section 8 occupants.  Larger and newer sewer  conduits are currently being installed, but what is more important is the calls to service by our police and fire departments will be reduced because of the reduction in crime in the area. 


Lastly, lets talk about the narrowing of Lamar westbound to 1 lane.  This is clearly depicted in an attachment included in the original 380 agreement dated 2013.  This didn't happen as an after thought nor the location of the leasing office, as my opponent states.  Just because she cannot look at an enclosure and understand what it is telling you, does not mean that it is not included in the document.  This was the original intent, because the developer is trying to create a sense of community within the development.  The most important concern of the citizens is dealt with in the agreement.  If the city decides that the traffic is too congested, then the developer must return the street to two lanes westbound at his own expense.   I attended both the Town Hall meeting and the Council meeting, dealing with this issue.  After understanding what the developer was trying to accomplish, an overwhelming majority of citizens were in agreement to try the reduction.  I voted in accordance with the majority of citizens in attendance, and the Council vote was unanimous.  My opponent did not and still does not listen to the citizens.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Opinion Arlington Question 2


Opinion Arlington has asked this last question of the candidates;  A constituent has e-mailed you a point of view, backed by facts, on an agenda item you have or will vote in the opposite way. He asks for a response. How do you respond to the e-mail?  The following is my answer.

Constituents constantly come to me with their opinion on issues contained in our agenda.  Some of the reasoning is tilted some is honest.  This question is best exhibited by the narrowing of Lamar and I think that it is the difference in the choice of candidates in this race.

I received emails from constituents against the narrowing and I asked the developer to hold a town hall meeting concerning this issue because of the number of citizens concerned about this specific item.  Now realize that the $250 million that the developer is contributing to this neighborhood is sizable.  But to get my support he must show that the citizens must be supportive of his plan, or he doesn’t get my support.  His town hall was well attended, over 200 people.  After his presentation 75% of the people stated that they were in support of the plan.  This is a fact that is undisputable.  Some people stated that only Viridian people were the majority.  This is not true.  Many residents were from Park Way Central were in attendance.  I know this because I know the people that were there.  Some Viridian residents were but nowhere near the majority.  But Viridian people vote in the North also.  Some people that were brought by my opponent don’t even live in District 1, but they voted also.  The next evening at Council the Mayor asked for a show of hands that were in support.  The count was 60 for and 3 against.  I was at both meetings and the overwhelming majority was in favor of the plan.  The Council voted unanimously in favor of this issue.  They listened to the people, and so did I.

The difference is although this plan was very controversial, the majority supported the plan and I voted accordingly.  My opponent would ignore the will of the people and vote as she wished.  I will not!  When the RLC’s were voted against I abided by the will of the people and voted at Council to remove them although I thought it was wrong.  Facts prove that I was right.  Over the last 6 months accidents at the 19 intersections have increased by 25%.  More people are running red lights and more of our citizens are going to the hospital.  I personally believe that Obama was a bad choice by the people also, but I have abided by the will of the electorate.  That is the difference between the two candidates for the District 1 seat.  You will make the choice, but don’t do it because of RLC’s, that is a thing of the past.  Consider the facts about who listens and how they will vote.