Oh, God, Make It Stop; And Other More Important Notes From Street Level
Issues like the renaming of streets tend to give me tired head, and, honestly, I never saw a need to start “branding” swaths of cement in the first place. But the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee's suggestion yesterday to rename Ross Avenue "Cesar Chavez Avenue" got me interested for the first time. Why? Well, here’s the money quote from The News' story today: “[Dave] Neumann, who said Monday that he didn’t think it was the Trinity committee’s role to deal with matters outside the scope of the Trinity project, said he changed his mind to help build consensus in the committee he chairs.”
My immediate reaction to hearing about the vote was, indeed, why would the Trinity River Committee be voting on something that has nothing to do with the Trinity project? Well, as Schutze pointed out, Cesar Chavez, originally bandied about as an Industrial-sized replacement, was a bit too, ya know, Mexican for the council. So this appears to be the compromise. (Because, apparently, the Live Oak option makes too much sense?)
Only, I’m not sure how the committee was even able to vote on this, since it wasn’t part of the agenda. I contacted City Manager Mary Suhm to get an explanation, and she said she’d check with city attorneys. But she did say, “I think they were technically voting to support starting the process, which is begun by any three council members signing a request for staff to begin.”
True. It does take three council members to initiate a street name change. But why was it voted on in the Trinity River committee meeting? Council member Angela Hunt, who represents Ross Avenue, she doesn’t know either. “I’m very unclear about the authority that committee has in renaming a street that has absolutely nothing to do with the Trinity River Corridor,” she tells Unfair Park.
She also finds it “unusual” that the item was voted on despite not appearing on the agenda, and says since it only takes three council members to get the process going, then why didn’t Steve Salazar, Pauline Medrano and Dr. Elba Garcia do this a month ago?
Hunt will be meeting with her constituents regarding the name change and notes that she has been bombarded with negative e-mails over the last 24 hours. “I don’t think I received one positive e-mail about it,” she says.
I’m thinking those in the Hispanic community shouldn’t hold their breath about getting Ross changed. Perhaps they should set their sights lower -- like, say, Live Oak. Again, makes perfect sense; thus, probably won't happen.
As for Hunt, those who think she’s spending all her time worrying about a certain someone should know that she has plenty on her plate these days, and is, as she says, driving her staff insane.
For one, Hunt has been looking at the city budget line by line in order to address the multimillion-dollar shortfall. On the city’s intranet site (accessible only to city employees), the budget is broken down by service and then broken down further into the amounts set aside for such things as office supplies.
However, after spending countless hours looking at the numbers, Hunt is frustrated that she has been looking at a budget that doesn’t include the cuts from Mary Suhm. Hunt has requested an updated version so she can go through the process all over again, and says only then will she be able to comment on what particular items should be used to attack the budget issues. “I want to find areas where we can be more effective and spend our money more wisely,” Hunt says.
Among other things, Hunt is studying plans to approve form-based zoning. She says she is 90 percent on board with the current plan on the table, but she has concerns about the related parking reduction, citing a recent story in The Dallas Business Journal that says 550 parking spots are being added in Uptown.
“We need a culture that is not so dependent on cars, but we also need to be realistic,” she says. “I’m not sure what a nice design has to do with a reduction in parking, and this leads to people parking in neighborhoods. And that hasn’t worked out too terribly well on Lower Greenville.”