The two principal documents handed to the press and to City Council on Monday night – “Consolidated Roundtable Notes” dated July 16, 2013, and “Brainstorming Session; Kara-Andrew-Mikaela” dated Jan. 3, 2014 – detailed several points that made it very clear neighborhoods were to be handled and kept “under control.” Planning staff would “tailor different messages to different audiences,” and their clear goal was “growth no matter what.”
From the planning staff on July 16, 2013: “Rebalancing Neighborhood Association input into development process (too much power without responsibility): Need to either remove from process or give them a charge – they can say no to a development only if they offer another area within the neighborhood where it would be more appropriate. …”
Some of the staff concerns – they call them “pitfalls” – had to do with being fired and land-use decision-makers, planners and professionals losing their professional reputation resultant from the process. Council President Isaac Benton, a major co-sponsor with Councilor Trudy Jones, made a feeble attempt to dismiss the document writers as “low-level” players. This is absurd on its face when you consider the same people are the very professionals City Council relies on for analysis!
These are the same professionals the Planning Department sent out to explain the ABC-Z Comprehensive Plan and the IDO to neighborhoods. The same professionals that declared to WSCONA two years ago that they had to pass the initiative “because we don’t know what the next mayor will do with them.” Later, Mayor Richard Berry told WSCONA he was “in no hurry to get IDO passed; it’s City Council spearheading it.” The next day Councilor Benton refuted the mayor’s assertion! So who knows? But we know this; that much of the young planning staff has been declared as only low-level players and not the professionals we were led to believe. Low-levels that did the outreach and provided the analysis Council relied on.
One thing is extremely clear; the real constituency the majority of the City Council answers to is the “industry,” as one councilor referred to the development community! It’s not you the resident taxpayer – you’re really only there to answer the doorbell and hear just how important you and your voice are. But when it comes to a potentially illegal massive re-zoning of the city, coupled with rights you now have taken from you, there’s no doorbells ringing at your home – only the Council’s timer reminding you that your two minutes are up!
Several councilors (appeared) fully prepared to pass the IDO on Monday but ultimately hedged. No worries though – they’ve set up a special meeting for Monday the 13th, conveniently just before the next mayor is elected. Unless you can strongly convince them otherwise, this coming Monday the deed will be done for “the industry.”