Thursday, January 22, 2015

Red Llight Cameras III

On Tuesday a citizens group dropped off a petition to city hall to put the removal of Red Light Cameras on the ballot for the May 9th election.  The required number of citizens signed this ballot for some reason.  I was told by one individual that the people seeking signatures were not forthright in presenting the issue to voters.   (That is hearsay)

Last Friday evening Kel Walters was killed at the intersection of Burney and Green Oaks.  The best lead that the police have in this murder investigation is a camera from an insurance company.  If we had a camera at this intersection we would know immediately who committed this crime. 
The reason that we have Red Light Cameras at all is the fact that you wanted people to stop running red lights.  That was the number two topic of concern on a survey conducted by the Arlington Police Department in 2005.  Enter the Red Light Cameras in 2007.  Accidents are down 75% at the 19 intersections equipped with Red Light Cameras. 

The city of Houston voted to get rid of their Red Light Cameras in 2010.  Since that time, accidents are up 117% and fatalities are up 30% in the intersections that had Red Light Cameras.  These are facts that cannot be refuted.  Public safety is my number one concern.  Please be informed when entering the ballot box.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Tale of Two Developers

Last night was an interesting evening concerning the tale of two developers.  One developer came to us and wanted approval of a “W” hotel in our city.  Now the piece of property that the hotel went on was a terrible location but the developer did the heavy lifting, and through diligence got the job done.  Earlier, since he had the zoning, there was no need for him to come to us for a Planned Development, but on his own, he has established three quality businesses that front the “W” hotel.  That is the way to effect change for the good in Arlington.

The very next case was one known as Champion’s Park.  This is the property on the east side of Collins and the north side of I-30.  This developer has been trying to put together a Planned Development for the last two years.  Two years he came to us with the same plan.  Last year he came to us with the same plan.  This year he came to us with the same plan.  He could have come to us two years ago and requested a change of zoning and it would have been approved without issue.  But he didn’t.

His plan is to develop this property in two phases.  Phase one is eight pad sights.  Of these eight locations, the developer doesn’t know what business will be put in the development.  He has no letters of intent signed by anyone.  The second phase of the operation consists of two large pad sites.  Although Arlington is in need of hotels, this developer can’t find a hotel to go on one of these sites.  I find this odd because the first developer accomplished this at a much less desirable location.  So this developer has no clue what will go in any pad site in this development and wants approval of his development plan.  The developer did admit that the normal template for shopping centers is to secure principals and then fill in the subsequent businesses.  I stated that he was putting the cart before the horse, and he had no horse.  His plan is tantamount to building a Footlocker and hoping a Dillard’s shows up.  Others may think this is how Arlington should conduct business but I am less convinced.  If you want me to take the responsibility of putting something in a gateway property, then at least tell me what it is.  I deserve that courtesy.  I want to apologize to the thirty constituents that were at the meeting last night in support of this project.  I hope that your support is well warranted.  I however, want something more than hope for North Arlington.  That is why I could not support this developer.   I hope you recognized last night what my representation of your best interest  looked like.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Red Light Cameras #2

There has been a move afoot to solicit signatures to remove red light cameras from our city.  It seems that Ms. Kelly Canon, of the Arlington Tea Party, has accumulated the requisite number of signatures to put this issue on the ballot.  If this is what the voters of Arlington want then I have no problem with it.  However, if you would allow a closer look at the issue, you might want your signature back. 

Red light cameras were established in our city in 2007 because of a survey that was accomplished by our police department in 2005.  The second highest priority on that survey, from the citizens, was to reduce the number of red light violations.  People were running red lights on a very frequent basis.  An 18 month study was accomplished and it was done to establish a base line of statistics.  The statistics were utilized in an effort to identify where to put the cameras so that they would have the most impact on solving red light violations.  The attributes of red light cameras are as follows:

  1.  Accidents at these 19 intersections are down 75%.  This may not mean much to you, unless you are one of the remaining 25% caught in an accident.  The City Charter tasks me with keeping the citizens of Arlington safe.  According to this statistic alone, if I were to take a position in opposition of red light cameras, I would be in violation of my sworn duties.
  2. Red light cameras are used to record accidents at these intersections.  It is a reliable way for the insurance companies to see who was at fault.  If you were in an accident and didn’t have someone to corroborate your story, a record of the accident would be very helpful.
  3. The red light cameras only capture those individuals that run red lights.  I have been caught twice for not stopping while turning right.  I witnessed the infraction on video and agreed.  So I paid the fine.  I paid because I broke the law, and I was compelled to do the right thing.  Ms. Canon will say that you don’t have to pay the fine so we shouldn’t have the cameras.  By her reasoning then we should stop our police department from giving warnings, you don’t have to pay them either, even though you broke the law.
  4. Lastly, the monies collected are sent to our police department.  The cameras generate about $2.1 million in revenue each year for Arlington. The money covers administrative expenses associated with operating the cameras; the salaries of 9 police officers who form the police department’s DUI unit, 14 patrol officers and 6 officers that administer the program.  So the city covers the salaries of 29 officers in total without raising your taxes.  A very innovative way to improve the safety of our citizens.

So the next time you are asked to sign a petition, try and take a good look at what this person is saying and what their motivation is behind their effort.