Raising the limit in the Garden District

December 20, 2018

The moniker - Garden District - doesn’t exactly conjure images of densely packed, looming towers populated by residents contending for parking spaces.

 

Gardens are low and green and serene.

 

Underlying assumptions that currently drive the debate about how - and if - to encourage or allow new construction to abut the historic underpinnings are merely assumptions:

 

Growth is good - how many people can you entertain at one time? Once the house is full, what becomes of new arrivals?

 

The market demands high ceilings. Well maybe, but where is the data, the evidence, the facts?

 

60 feet is necessary for a fair return on investment. For this there is no evidence at all save for the developer’s own math.

 

More is better. More what? Bars? Restaurants? Shops? Offices? Why? Are there empty storefronts beyond the natural ebb and flow of business?

 

Developers deserve incentives. Why? What will their project do for me? Reduce my taxes? Add value to my property? And to the property I will need to buy if I sell. To the tax rolls? Not if we give the incremental tax away. Give me data.

 

The neighborhood needs improvement. Well, maybe, but private land and home owners have done well enough in other historic neighborhoods. The record is there. There are many other areas near town that are not populated by historic homesteads.

 

Publix downtown. Southgate is less than two miles from Lake Morton - a half-hour walk, which no one will undertake with groceries, in the rain, in 95-degree heat. Putting it in the middle of Lake Morton wouldn’t change anything.

 

Density is good. Ever ridden a crowded elevator? A sustainable population requires that we know what number we can sustain. No one has offered any real estimates of what another 1,000 residents within a mile of Munn Park will mean.

 

Public servants versus public officials. We the people elect public servants to collect and consider our concerns and ideals and communicate them to city officials who are charged with maintaining public safety and quality of life while managing change and its impact. The elected commission serves to represent us, not direct us. 

 

So, keep your house in order. Painted. Landscaped. Repaired. Restore! Renovate! Good bungalows make good neighbors. Ask the commission to direct the staff to help developers do it right.

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But one at a time, please!

 

For the most part, when recipients open an email that includes others they are less inclined to take it personally. Make sure your message resonates by sending it to each commissioner separately.

Scott Franklin - Stephanie Madden -  Sara McCarley - Bill Mutz

Bill Read - Justin Troller - Phillip Walker

Each of these noble citizens represents all the rest of us. The four geographic designations - Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast, etc. - apply only to the residency requirements for commissioners, not to their constituents. Bill Read, for instance, lives in the city's northeast quadrant and is likely to be more in tune with the businesses and neighborhoods in that area, but serves us all as our representative to the city management and staff.

It will always help to send your message to City Manager Tony Delgado  because it's his job to implement whatever projects, resolutions, and ordinances the Commission proposes in response to our communication.

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