Thursday, June 15, 2006

CPAC Meeting 6/14

Last night was the second meeting of the Comprehensive Plan Committee.

The facilitators led us in a land use exercise that involved a big map of the island and bits of colored paper and tape meant to represent single family dwellings; highrise resorts, parks and recreation, etc. with which we were to layout our ideal town.

So certain factions were wiping out whole residential neighborhoods to make way for new gated communities, mounting a wall of highrises along the the length of the beach with no regard for public access and filling in wetlands for even more highrises -- while others of us tried to add a town square, more parks and lowrises in existing residential neighborhoods.

Here is one exchange:

Clayton gets into it, cheerfully sticking casinos and highrises all over the map

Me: You know, not everyone thinks that covering up the island with casinos is a good idea.
Clayton: Well too bad because it's gonna happen, sweetheart.
Me: Over my dead body.
Clayton: Be careful what you wish for.

The facilitators wanted lots of diversity on the committee and boy did they get it. I just hope they have a good strategy in mind for helping us reach some sort of consensus because from my viewpoint it looks pretty damn hopeless.

Update: Below is an e-mail I got this morning from another committee member:

RE: Last nights exercise in futility

Maybe the idea of mapping out how we would like to see SPI was good but the method was impractical. They should have provided transparent layovers and colored marking pens so that we could express our visions.

That way Clayton's World could have been one vision and Our World would not have been overshadowed and crushed.

It would have been more effective to work in segments as well.

The layovers would then show contradictions and consensus as well as providing ideas that might not have been thought of.

Also an expression of Goals: High End Beach Resort with casinos
Community Resort with low impact on surroundings that promotes Eco-tourism
ETC.

It was a disappointing experience for me.

44 Comments:

Anonymous Gulfless said...

At least he called you sweetheart. The county already sold out its citizens for private development, but as long as y’all keep the right people in office, he’ll just be a guy with slot machine $ signs in his eyes.

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Lori said...

Clayton's vision of the island will be overlots of people's dead bodies. We may have to all lay down in front of those bulldozers. Lori

9:23 AM  
Blogger nancy said...

One of Clayton's ideas was to put a boardwalk going north/south along the Gulf,right at the HBL and then stairs would go down to the beach which means his vision does not include any dunes at all. I wonder how long that boardwalk would last against our yearly storm surges?

But let's not think about his brash thoughts.

Were there any ideas last night that you thought were worthy of consideration?

11:49 AM  
Anonymous beerman said...

Who will the $$ Players $$ be?
The valley is already home to mostly low income people. Does Clayton think Galveston and C/C will not also go for the fools $$$?

We drive the extra 3 hours (past C/C) to SPI for the beach! We can gamble as close as Shrievport LA. but we don't! Oh yes even closer, Indian joints just 30 minutes north of us in Ok.

People who want to sit in smoky dark dens to bet their utility payments on a dream can do so at lot closer to home.

The voters of Texas still have a say in this and the bible belt is pretty wide.


Enjoy your weekend in paradise!

Ken T.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Town's agreement with the consulting firm was that the existing Vision Statement prepared by WRT (based on citizen input) would be used as the basis for anything being done this time. That Vision Statement described a community of mixed uses - permanent and part time residents, a business community and a tourism industry. It goes on to clearly state the citizen of this Island want to upscale it a bit, but essentially retain the "small town feel". That does not mean a gambling community. Perhaps ya'll ought to remind the consultants (and Clayton) of this.

Why is Clayton on this committee anyway? He is not an island resident.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Must resist urge to write very tacky, anti-developer message ... am feeling them sucking my will to live!

Suffice it to say Clayton is a resident of Brownsville, a stinkin' off-Islander and interloper.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean that Clayton was allowed to have input and even speak condecendingly to Sandy and attempt to dominate and dictate the proceedings when he is not even a resident of the island?! And not only that, he has very little formal education of any kind and no specialized knowledge regarding these issues. Diversity is good but decisions about the way the island will be in the future as a place to live should be made solely by those who reside there. Come on folks, don't let that guy walk all over you!

6:31 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Right, and many folks on the Island are buzzing with the rumors de jour.

By the way, Clayton can have some brilliant ideas sometimes and I should not have used the "stinkin'" word, as that was quite inappropriate.

Update: three Aldermen have voiced extreme displeasure about the way things are going at CPAC.

6:43 PM  
Blogger nancy said...

Clayton owns land on the island which some day he will develop so it's reasonable that he would like to have a say on where the island is heading. But the Little Man should show some manners to the Little Ladies.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Let's look at it like a self-feeding industry, instead of mentioning one person. If you stayed in the game since the Texas Depression of 1985, or maybe one of the "kings" who invested down here in the 1970's, you're landed gentry and quite rich. Nancy, I am sure you are among the landed gentry, too!

Explaining this is simple as saying you've out-performed the stock market, based on the rising prices of your raw land. What was $25,000 for a 50-by-125 lot is now $225,000. Not bad for starters, about eight times your money (800% profit).

You can build a mansion of your postage stamp lot, or maybe two lots, but it is a pimple on a mountain. Real estate folks loof at it different, of course. They'll say you have a $75,000 lot with $200,000 of "improvements" on it, a complete fabrication of the truth but it works for their books, as things are really the reverse.

But wait, you can do much better than just flipping raw land, or converting old "knock-down" structures like the Sand-Ho. If you build a condominium, you can make millions as opposed to just a slice of a few hundred thou.

As Carl Sagan used to say, "millions of billions of billions."

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even though Mr. Brashear owns property on the Island, he is not a resident and cannot vote in Island elections. I do not think that he qualifies as an expert in city planning. So why is he allowed to hijack the proceedings? If all you had to do was own property on the island there would be many, many people who are on equal footing with Mr. Brashear. If he want to speak up (in a respectful manner) at town meetings, let him sign up and get his two minutes like everyone else.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous beerman said...

So everyone lurking out there needs to tell their Legislators Hell No next January! From this article SPI might get one to 3 based on the proposed bill that does not even mention SPI.

Also a search of http://www.cameroncad.org/

reveals that Clayton and the Brashear family trust do pay a lot of taxes for land on the island, but is the seahorse harbor land incorporated yet? Hell we own a sandlot outside of town, can I get on a committee, get travel expenses? :)

Texas Legislators Consider Casinos Next January
2 May 2006


TEXAS – As reported by the Midland-Reporter Telegram: "Ushering in casino gambling to help finance public schools will not be considered during the Texas Legislature's current special session on education reform, but it will be debated when lawmakers convene for their regular biennial session next January, legislators say.

"With the city of Stanton in particular wanting a casino or greyhound racing track, the issue remains in play in the Permian Basin with the horse racing track and casino in nearby Hobbs, N.M., attracting a multitude of area citizens.

"A Stanton city official and the Austin lobbyist promoting Stanton's interests say legislators will be asked simply to put a proposed 'local option' constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot and let cities decide if they want casinos.

"…Lobbyist Robert Cox, a Stanton native, said a bill like the one Democratic Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston introduced last year can be expected at the session's outset. Ellis proposed allowing the creation of up to 24 Las Vegas-style casinos including two in West Texas, five each in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, two in San Antonio and two on American Indian reservations…"

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clayton is also on the voters' registration list. I dont understand how.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I heard that too. We got dead people, folks from off-Island, and Clayton Bashear on the darned SPI voter registration list. The Town tried to work with the Cameron County folks to clean up those lists but ... something happened on the way to the laundromat.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Lots of planning based on casinos is going on but no one seems to realize that it isn't legal. Texas gambling has been discussed for years and still isn't legal.

Ask Questions:

1) How much money does gambling bring to a community? From my travels, gambling is done by people who spend their time in the facility not out buying on the island. Casinos are designed to keep people IN, not push them out to the community.

2) We have heard for years that the t-shirt shops will all become casinos. How many casinos could SPI support in reality???

3) Sweetheart? Dead bodies? This has already gone too far.
B

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know most who are critical of lawyers don't want to confuse their reality with what the law actually is, but a person is entitled to REGISTER to vote where they INTEND their residency to be - regardless of how many houses they may have in other locations, the law is "intended residency". It is also irrelevant how many nights you stay in any house. Some of you poke fun of some of our citizens for not being formally educated, but a word to the wise, don't ever mistake lack of formal education for not having a brilliant mind. CB was here long before a lot of you and he will be able to afford to stay long after some you will be forced off by finances.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Sorry sir or madam, it brings me no pleasure to say you are not completely correct. Here is a 2004 legal opinion from the Secretary of State:

* * * * *
The definition of residence for the purpose of voter registration is well settled in Texas. As stated in the seminal case of Mills v. Bartlett, 377 S.W.2d 636, 637 (Tex.1964), “[n]either bodily presence alone nor intention alone will suffice to create the residence, but when the two
coincide at that moment the residence is fixed and determined. There is no specific length of time for the bodily presence to continue.”
* * * * *

This ruling was requested by Governor Perry because many students were intending to vote at Grand Prairie University, and the Governor wanted these [black democratic] votes to not count. He was reversed because the students in fact "lived" at Grand Prairie and not at their parent's house (bodily presence and intention).

Clayton does not "live" on the Island, despite all his good intentions. If that is a debatable point of law, so be it.

Nobody has questioned CB's mental capacities in this thread and I have no idea where that came from, other than he seems to be lacking in a little decency or perhaps some needed intra-personal skills.

Finally, I find the comment "... he will be able to afford to stay long after some you will be forced off by finances" to be extremely rude, crude, and perhaps even malicious. What on Earth are you trying to say, stranger? Are you saying that CB and his minions (possibly including you) intends to inflate land so high that all of us "locals" will have to leave via the Causeway and never come back? I find that to be a contemptable thought that shows no respect, courtesy, or understanding.

Have a great day!

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about place of business? That seems to be what a lot of people are hanging their hat on to entitle them to vote on the island.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are many local businessmen who vote on South Padre Island who are not residents of SPI. The City Attorney has ruled in the past that those businessmen may rightfully vote locally, if they wish, because they do own property on the Island. I would assume they couldn't vote in another City however; I wouldn't bet my life on it.

All you need to do is review the voter list to identify those individuals.

Bill Richardson

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are technically correct intent plus bodily presence, at the same time. By my observations CB has both. He is here all day most every day and spends many nights here. Many people give to more than one community by their presence in a number of places, contributing in many ways to each community. It is up to the INDIVIDUAL to decide which place he intends to have his residency for voting purpose (INTENT plus BODILY PRESENCE).

As for the comment re people being forced off for financial reasons, I have lived here many years and I have seen the valuations continue to increase to a level that each year more and more locals have moved off the island - some to Laguna Vista, Port Isabel, Brownsville, and some to other areas in and outside of the state of Texas. I personally spoke this week with people whose tax bill increased by $1000.00 this last year. They have lived on the island many years and are retired. They told me that if this continues they will be leaving because their current assets (cash) and be eaten up by the increased taxes. This is a statement of fact and nothing more - a reality of living in an area with rapidly increasing valuations without corresponding decreases of tax rates or increases in income to offset the taxes. It can be difficult for the retired population to increase their income to keep pace with the cost of living under these circumstances. Anything we do to increase the cost of living (foolish spending) will ultimately cause more of these locals to choose other places to live. I would personally like to see it remain a place where ordinary people, like I, can continue to live. Lets see who is still here in 10, 20, 30 years -

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would appear that the person causing Sam the most consternation would be the person he looks at everyday in the mirror.
He is the one that started with the rudeness, name calling, and malicious statements.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Sure, I make no claims to perfection as others do. If I was not concerned about the claims of the "development lobby" on the Island, I would not bother at all with this line of reasoning at all, as it can be distasteful and dangerous. I do beleive I have First Amendment rights to be tacky, inarticulate, and unconvincing. Call me a bad person, I sometimes do have some OK thoughts, however scruffy I am.

Folks, this all started when Nancy Marsden wrote Lucinda Wierenga an email about how Clayton was rude and proceeded to put 13-story condos all over the Island, even in wetlands, Zone A, Zone B, and Zone E. He peppered them everywhere with great glee and gusto, apparently (I did not attend the meeting).

Some of us who live on the Island find that disgusting in the extreme. The "pave everything" sentiment seems to be promoted by the Laguna Madre Development Group, of which Clayton is a prime member. He, Jesse Alford, and Kirk Mills have been to be quite vociferous during public meetings and that is why the Mayor instisted upon having a Peace Officer at all BOA meetings. It had become a matter of public safety.

It's that bad, folks.

And it is truly unfortunate that things had to turn out this way, as if a "war on terror." But I'm not giving up the flag. Shoot me, kick me, knife me, sue me, but just don't infect me!

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

local elsewhere owner voter name(s) --
changin to protect guilty (not guilty) of ?
... Joe Blow ... J Blow ... Joseph Blow ...
and
... DoDo (father) ... NoDo (son) ...
true but unreal names used to protect

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but isn't the determination as to whether a person could legally vote was with the Secretary of State's office, not with a local municipal attorney. If ya'll want to do something worthwhile, get a reading from that office regarding Mr. B.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Right, the County Registrar makes the first cut and any problematic decisions get kicked up to Austin if an opinion is needed. A local town attorney's opinion is like "screen doors on a submarine."

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CB is not an island resident by any stretch of the imagaination. He opted years ago to move to Brownsville with his family and educate his children outside of Point Isabel School District. He stake here is strictly monetary adn not personal. I do not have anything against Clayton as a person. He is a developer, acting strictly on his self interest, trying to make the most money possible. That in most cases and certainly in Calyton's is what developers do. But it is totally inappropriate for him to have input (and especially control) over city planning. His lack of formal education is important not not with regard to his his worth as a human being but when coupled with his out of town residency is a compelling argument for his exclusion from any committees that are sanctioned by an SPI elected body. Let him take a back seat I say, unless, that is he wants to move back to the Island, acually live here and have his children educated here.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another point is that the law as I recall says "place of HABITATION".
The Island is clearly not the "place of habitation" for folks living off the island even if they do have businesses there.

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Earlier in this thread somebody mentioned the Laguna Madre Business Group. All they seem to do is try to tear things down. Wouldn't it be great if they did constructive projects for the businesses?
They could organize a project to plant trees along the boulevard or work out a way to have a low cost shuttle from the Harlingen Airport the way Michael Jones did for the Brownsville Airport. What a boon that would be for the entire island and all the businesses! That group might recover some respect if they engage in constructive projects. It is easy to be negative and critical. They do have some brilliant minds which should be put to work doing good for themselves and others. But it also takes vision, leadership, organizational skills and ability to work together.
There are lots of things a business group can do for itself without needing government. I hope they do some of those things.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Great point! Cate Ball has a proposal to re-align the Wave to stop at HEB and Walmart, which would be a good start. Crossing the road is quite dangerous in that area of PI. The City Manager has not acted on that.

I should imagine there are some federal and TXDOT funds for an "intermodal" van service from Harlingen Airport to the Island as well. The "Surf-Trans" used to operate something like that years ago. It would take you straight to your hotel, house, or condo! We were disappointed when it stopped.

[Ever check into a taxi two ways? Gosh, it can be cheaper to rent a SUV!]

An intermodal shuttle service would be quite consistent with the LMBA's goal of "more heads in beds." Folks on vacation don't want to fool with driving on new road (especially dangerous ones under construction) and pay for MORE high dollar gas ... they want a hassle free time on the beach.

Let's accentuate the positive.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since Clayton says he is so interested in businesses on the island, maybe he can help subsidize a shuttle from Harlingen, along with the big hotels and real estate companies. Bringing those potential buyers from the airport might even be a tax write-off for him. This is a seriously good idea.

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll start hoping for Clayton and island developers to fund mass transit when I see proof that there really is a big rock candy mountain.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Surf Tran went out of business doesn't that tell you something. Let the free market dictate and if multimode transportation is such a good idea use your own money and quit expecting those who have been successful to fulfill your dreams. There is always someone who can't make money telling everyone else how to spend theirs. You spend yours on what you want and I'll spend mine on what I want, and for Gods sake why not leave Clayton to do with his as he wishes.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just an idle hope that Clayton and the other members of the LMBA might have in them something more than blind selfishness and and might wish to give something back to the community. Clayton has made a lot of money at the expense of this community. Some might look at some of his projects and say he raped the environment. Don't you think a business group should do constructive projects of their own for the business community without relying on big government? I just know a smart tourist resort would not leave their potential customers stranded at an airport 45 miles away. And if it can be done from the Brownsville Airport, why not from Harlingen?

6:55 PM  
Blogger mleahy said...

Ladies and gentlemen, sorry for chiming in at this late stage of the discussion. It would seem that we are right back to developers vs. residents and since it is to late to rezone or whip out a comprehensive plan (that no two people can agree on, maybe it is time to work with the developers to create condo buildings that are not so offensive. After all, they have the money and the land, what is there to bargain with? Developers want the best return on investment, condos happen to be just that where land is limited. Look Clayton is no prize, but it's his money and his to do with as he pleases. If I won the lottery, I wouldn't be soliciting ideas on how to spend it either. I am not for paving over the island, but don't see many options. Best of luck. MLeahy

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the developers haven't made ANYTHING at the expense of the community. The projects that all the developers have designed, built, and sold have done nothing but increase the revenue to the County and the City, of which everyone seems so eager to spend and which pay for our municipal services. The developers all take RISKS everytime they undertake a new project and, believe me, there have been plenty of them go out of business over the years here (remember the 1980's when every bay front development ended up in bankruptcy court)There is no guarantee of a profit "at the expense of the community" and if you believe there is, you jump in and show us how it's done. Then you pay for the shuttle services you wish others to pay for now.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you don't understand what is happening currently with the planning for the future of the island. Plain and simple the area where single family homes presently exist is up for grabs in this game. The winner take all. Will it be high rise condos or continue to be neighborhoods or communities? Rezoning could change the island dramactly. The P&Z does not seem strong enough to stay the course.

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about these acts of making money at the expense of the community among others: bulldozing sand dunes, building bland and architecturally unimaginative boxes that block everone's views of the water and eliminating parking on Gulf Blvd so that the owners of the boxes can get in and out of their driveways. I really don't expect Clayton or any other developer, for that matter, to fund public transportation, but a little civic responsiblity and taste and a little less greed and glee at raping the environment would be nice. But I guess that would require class: something that seems to be sorely lacking in most of those who profit by the development and sale of land on our little fragile barrier island.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Getting back to Lucinda's original posting, citizens who hope to continue to live on the island had better become vocal with the CPAC, the P&Z and the BOA. We better get organized and present a united front. It is all too obvious now why the first comprehensive plan effort only got as far as the vision statement (which was the result of citizen input). It says we want to retain a mixed community of neighborhoods and "a small town feel". The realtors/developers who were on the Board of Alderman then (including the infamous Doyle Wells) could not live with that. But, it is on the books and still in effect. We can't let them ignore it. We citizens do have a choice in the future of our island.

4:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your house blocks someones view! If you want a view of the water - buy beach front/bay front. If you don't want something built - you buy the land and pay the taxes on it for as long as you like. Some of the people making the most noise about how things being built look live in the least attractive homes ever built on the island (boxes) - with no landscaping.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The views from my home(s) are just fine thank you. I was thinking about residents and visitors who might actually want to see the Gulf from Gulf Boulevard. Set backs,reasonable spcaing between homes, sight easements and requiring the provision of adequate parking on the private property being developed instead of taking it from the public is what I am talking about. But for the dumb as dirt rednecks among us who think themselves superior because they have managed to make some money and do not understand the pleasures of public life and civilization, discussing these things is like talking to a stone wall.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in favor or putting the two different visions to a vote of the
people (those who actually live on the island). When we did that before (in the first planning effort), the residents made it clear which vision they had for the island. This is OUR island home. We have a voice and a choice as to its future.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the name calling. It is such a nice accurate reflexion of you.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That anonymous guy has a lot of opinions.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't think name calling or labelling from either side serves anyone's purpose. We can have differences of opinion and still remain civil.

8:02 AM  

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