Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Council Day, 21 May

The work session was very interesting today.  Mike Bass presented a hybrid code modification for multi family dwellings.  The council pretty much adopted the concept, with two exceptions.  1)  Landscaping and 2) the ability to recoup costs for excessive calls to service. 

Landscaping, is suppose to meet a certain standard if the complex was built after 1991.  Most of our apartments that are in disrepair were built before 1991 and therefore have no requirements to maintain a certain level of appearance.  Most apartments that are having financial problems are quickly identified by the condition of the grounds.  They will not put in money to maintain a sprinkler system, nor will they spend the money for water.  Therefore the vegetation dies, and there is no money to replace it.  Code needs a mechanism to make the owner maintain or replace the damage to the complex.

Excessive Calls to Service, Chief Crowson told me that there was an individual that would call the Fire Department and then when they arrived he said that he wanted a pizza.  Lana Wolf told of ONE apartment complex that had over 53% of all calls to service in East Arlington.  Forest Hills Apartments had over 600 calls in six months.  Legal told us that recovery of funds for excessive calls was a violation of the 14th amendment.  I don't believe that for 1 second.  I asked what Constitution was he using?  If it violated the 14th amendment then why is L.A., St. Paul, Norfolk, Fayetteville, and Raleigh successful in establishing such a program.  The Mayor, of course, was against the idea.  But I received support from Lana Wolf and some others.  I will try to implement this in committee.

Of note also was a discussion on Abrams St.concerning the number of lanes that will go through downtown.  All scenarios were considered.  Five lanes (current config.) down to Two lanes with a more eclectic downtown experience. It was noted that if the two lane option was chosen the delay to get through downtown would be over 6 and a half minutes.  Considering that there are only two main east/west arteries in Arlington, (Division & Abrams) and the population/traffic will only increase I think that the two lanes option is unacceptable to my way of thinking.  The city is spending a great deal of money to improve Abrams east to the city limit.  To neck it down in the downtown area will more than likely drive away business rather than increase foot traffic.

Lastly Sheri Capehart suggested that the Council have a special meeting to reconsider the makeup and investment strategy of the Arlington Tomorrow Fund.  I suggested that any appointments be tabled until after that meeting and the Mayor about blew a gasket.  He has submitted a name to sit on that Committee and even if there is no place for the nominee to serve he refused to table/delay the appointment.  There is close to 100 million dollars in that fund, and it is likely that the entire format of the Committee might change. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What's a PID?

Tonight I will be addressing a group of citizens that reside in the Park Place addition (Monopoly Streets) .  The meeting will start at 7:30 at the Elzie Odom Recreation Center.  The reason for the meeting is to discuss forming a Public Improvement District or PID.  Now what a PID does is allow a neighborhood to essentially get a loan from the city to make improvements.  In this case it will be a stone wall that surrounds their neighborhood.  The wooden fence that encases their neighborhood is showing wear and it is only a matter of time before it starts to fall down and will need to be replaced.  The problem is, when an individual citizen makes this determination, you will have new fence and then old fence and a patchwork effect will identify your neighborhood.  If a PID is established, then the stone wall will be constructed all at once and look uniform throughout it's life.  It will give the neighborhood a professional upgrade, therefore raising the property values of the entire addition. 

Now the city can't go around putting up walls for everyone.  So how is this paid for?  Well, each of the houses in the addition has an increase in their annual property tax.  The amount of increase is subject to how the PID is constructed.  In this addition there are 178 houses.  If the cost of the wall is $500,000 then each house will own $2,800.  If the tax assessment is constructed for a ten year period, the cost per house will be $280 annually.  If it is constructed for 15 years it is $187.

Now how do you form a PID?  A committee will be formed of citizens within the addition.  This committee will be tasked with getting signatures from each of the households within the addition.  If the committee in Park Place is successful in accumulating signatures of 90 houses or over 50% of the households.  Then the petition is submitted to the City Council for approval and the funds are allocated and the PID is established.  That's the nuts and bolts of a PID. 

Now as you can imagine some citizens are more involved in their community than others.  As you know, some people take more pride in their homes than others.  Some people are a little more cash strapped than others.  This is where the rub is to establishing a PID.  We still live in a democracy, and you have freedom of speech.  The city isn't making you establish a PID.  This is a concerted effort by citizens to improve their neighborhood.  As a collective body, they either want to do this or they don't.  They will decide.  Grand Prairie currently has 15 PIDs that have been established. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The North Rocks

Last night I held a town Hall meeting at the Lamar High School Auditorium.  The event was well attended with over 100 citizens leaving their homes to become more informed on the issues concerning their neighborhoods.  The event started with a few issues such as this blog, Welcome to Arlington signage, then we proceeded to the APD aviation unit.  Sgt. Houston had one of the radio controlled units on display, and described the scenarios where it could be deployed.  Then Chief Leland Strickland gave an update concerning hot spots and other criminal activity and the department's efforts to limit it's affects through recent arrests.

We then had a healthy discussion about the Walgreens on Davis and Lamar.  The Walgreens district manager  and store manager were both in attendance to state Walgreens position on the issue.  Things are not likely to change on this issue due totally to this corporate position.  We then covered concerns on a possible tax increase and its reasoning.  Lastly, I discussed miscellaneous items like Arlington Municipal Tower and our successful lobby efforts to return funding to this facility.  The question and answer session was very lively and we covered items from soup to nuts.  I want to thank Dr. Larry Harmon for hosting the event and being available to answer educational questions.  It was a good evening and the North Rocks.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Town Hall Meeting Tonight 8 May

I just wanted to send out a reminder that Jimmy Bennett and I will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting tonight at Lamar High School Auditorium.  The event will start at 7:00 pm and last about 2 hours.  The North Deputy Chief Leland Strickland will give a brief overview of crime in our area.  The Arlington Police Departments Aviation unit will give a short presentation concerning their radio controlled helicopters.  I will have a short presentation and then most of the time will be spent listening to you and your concerns.  I hope to see you there this evening.