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Island’s council members have short memories - The Galveston County Daily News: Guest Columns

August 29, 2016

Island’s council members have short memories

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Posted: Friday, June 6, 2014 12:00 am

I am amazed at just how short a memory a City Council member has.

It seems like only a few weeks ago each candidate extolled the virtue of saving, helping and protecting Galveston’s historic peculiarity by nurturing our neighborhoods.

Most of our residents still live in neighborhoods and for many years now, we’ve funded the antics of City Hall with little return.

Here’s an example: The oldest neighborhood on the West End is Bay Harbor.

Bay Harbor has been paying taxes for decades yet still does not have sewer connections.

Every West End council member rotating through City Hall simply ignores them.  

We have a difficult situation developing in central Galveston also.

The San Jacinto neighborhood lies north and adjoining the Seawall.

Recently, council passed a permit to build a high rise on 13th and Beach, appropriating space, view and sun from a neighborhood more than 75 years old.

There was little given the neighborhood in return.

Similarly, our city has passed paid seawall parking leading to an almost-indefensible assault on the adjoining neighborhoods through spillover from record crowds.

Record crowds are great news for merchants, the city, the Park Board and the Industrial Development Corporation, but bad news for residents who want to park in their own driveways.

This city cannot account accurately for the funds from parking or the cost of providing the program.

In fact, we still do not know who is accountable for the entire parking program.

At least this writer thinks the city might be out of compliance with Texas General Land Office rules at this point.

Those facts seem not to disturb our council.

The most recent insult comes in the form of a significant zoning change for the proposed Balinese Room.

Council was treated to a sketchy show-and-tell by an architect who has become a paid talking head for large commercial interests. His concept is an over-the-water concert venue that holds 1,600 people or more at a single event.

Only one council member was concerned about parking on a seawall already unable to accommodate traffic.

No one raised the concern about sound and disturbance to the neighborhoods once the band strikes up until after they had voted for megalomania again.

It would have been child’s play to place enforceable limitations on this rezoning with time limits.

If a parking plan is not submitted and if the developer cannot demonstrate sound levels real people can tolerate, the zoning should just expire and revert to the previous zoning.

But that night, City Council had amnesia and forgot residents in a rush to appease a not-so-prominent architect paired up with a prominent family of investors and Realtors: a lapse similar to the one where the 2009 tax hike was to be returned to us by now.

I hope the San Jacinto neighborhood, the adjoining neighborhoods and the Galveston Alliance of Island Neighborhoods realize that we apparently did not matter at the last council meeting. Nothing is going to change for us unless we insist that it change.