On July 23, 2018, after a long drawn out City Council meeting, the Envision Oak Point Plan passed by a vote of 6-2. Councilmen Tom Harrison and Anthony Ricciardelli were the dissenting votes. In case you don't know what Envision Oak Point is, please read my other articles titled Oak Point May Be Coming Back From the Dead https://planospoliticalpitbull.weebly.com/posts-about-council/oak-point-may-be-coming-back-from-the-dead and Envision Oak Point Update https://planospoliticalpitbull.weebly.com/posts-about-council/june-21st-2018 . You may also watch my video and first post about the plan, The Oak Point Plan is Dead https://planospoliticalpitbull.weebly.com/videos.html .
The plan was the ninth and last item on the agenda. People who went to the meeting to voice their opinions had to wait until almost 10 pm to be heard. Coincidence, I think not. More often then not controversial items are put last on a full agenda.
Nine people spoke and twelve filled out a card in favor of the plan. Some of the people in favor of the plan said it was a vision and would guide new development. The President of the Plano Chamber of Commerce said, "It reaffirms that the City of Plano is open for business." So, somehow companies like Toyota, Liberty Mutual, and Boeing don't reaffirm the message that Plano is open for business? Maybe we should put an open sign on our border for those who still don't know.
Forty-three people filled out a card against the plan, and fifteen people spoke against it. Two moved to East Plano for a more rural and quiet life; they don't want to lose that. One of those people did not appreciate the other side calling him a racist just because he was opposed to the plan. Other residents worry about the number of housing units that would be built.
Currently, the plan calls for 3000 housing units. The types of homes would be single family on small lots, condos, townhouses, small cottage homes under 1000 square feet, and of course apartments. Residents who spoke worry that this area would become too crowded. That it would lead to more traffic and cause over crowding in schools. Unfortunately, the one thing the plan does not have is a new school. Two residents talked about letting the free market and residents decide what should be built instead of government bureaucrats; people after my own doggy heart. To reduce the amount of density, the majority of the people who spoke against the plan asked for it to be tabled.
After the public spoke it was the councils turn. Councilwoman Angela Minor read from a prepared speech. Clearly she did not care what any of the residents said. Since she refused to listen to anyone, I am going to skip her remarks and go to the next councilman who spoke.
Councilman Rick Smith said, “It seems that we as a city have not done a good enough job educating the public about the plan'…'I think there is some very good things about this plan. To get good quality revitalization and redevelopment going on the East side'…'It seems everything has zeroed in on high density housing. I feel like if that we're not in the plan, I don't think everybody would be fighting'…'I think generally everyone agrees that we do need some type of revitalization, refreshing on the east side.” He is right about one thing; if the density is taken out the people would be much happier, and maybe not as opposed to the plan as they are now.
Councilman Anthony Ricciardelli spoke next. He said, “There is so much good in Envision Oak Point. Revitalization of Plano Market Square Mall, the Ave K corridor, [and] affordable single family neighborhoods'…'There is so much good, yet I continue to have reservations about the housing density and the density of development in general'…'It seems that one thing that keeps coming up [from the people] is housing density.” Councilman Anthony Ricciardelli also talked about how one residents words resonated with him. “The plan talks about a community vision, and there are many areas of this plan in which we do have a community vision'…'That [must be a] vision that is broadly shared by a super majority of the community. Something that we can rally around and move forward on. But a vision is not a vision if it is 51/49 or worse yet 40/60. That is not something we can all rally around. That is not a statement for moving forward together'…'It has become clear to me that the high density is the critical sticking point [with] the community. I think if we were able to take that out and express no opinion on high density development in this plan, and leave that to individual zoning cases in the future, what is left is a broadly agreed upon vision that the community can rally around…'I think it is important to make a statement that we want and need revitalization and reinvestment in the Oak Point area and in East Plano'…'I think the inescapable conclusion is that the community is divided about the density of development in this plan'…'This is a plan we need to move forward on, but we need to move forward united. We can't move forward united if the plan contains a strong statement in favor of high density development.” While I agree that the community needs to be united on what it wants, I don't agree that we need government inference to make redevelopment happen. Councilman Ricciardelli also wanted to make modifications to the plan, but the Mayor put a stop to it.
Councilman Harrison went next. “I think the plan is probably a very very good plan expect for one thing. I think if you go with retail, restaurants, and redevelopment you have a winner. The problem I have is high density. Three years ago I ran for this office on two things, high density and apartments. It involved cars, traffic, and education/PISD and what it was doing to residents. This plan is doing the same thing. We had two people talk about PISD, and we had about four people talk about traffic. The other thing that bothers me is the infrastructure that was built in East Plano was done with a comprehensive plan forty years ago. That is why we have to build a new [sewer] lift station by 121 and the Dallas North Tollway, because some of the infrastructure (sewer and water) is old and is getting dilapidated and needs to get repaired.” It also was not built with the Shops at Legacy and Legacy West in mind. That just proves that we cannot predict what will happen 30 years from now. He went on to say, “That is a thing we have not really thought about, because as we add people in Plano East we are going to put more strain on sewer and water. Those are the reasons I can't bring myself to vote for this plan.” In other words, Envision Oak Point plans for more people, but does not plan for things those people will need. East Plano's infrastructure is simply not equipped to handle 3000 new housing units.
After Councilman Harrison finished his comments, the Mayor did something very fishy. He recessed the council into a private executive session. Now, why would the Mayor do that? Could it be he was worried that four council members were going to vote no and kill the plan? Council members Smith, Harrison, and Ricciardelli statements made it seem like they were 'no' votes. Could it be the Mayor wanted to twist some arms to make sure this plan passed? I would not put it passed the Mayor to resort to bully tactics just to get his way. He bullies residents, so why not council members? Reportedly, Councilman Grady was so upset that the plan might fail he started cursing his fellow council members out. Now, why would he get so mad? Could it be he has some kind of invested interest in seeing the plan implemented?
The council were recessed from 11:22 pm – 11:48 pm. When they reconvened the Mayor said, “We broke into executive session to discuss legal matters.” If you believe they only broke to discuss legal matters, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
After they returned Councilwoman Prince started her comments. “Two people mentioned that it is important to let the free market determine what happens. To that end, I think that is why it is important to have a variety of housing options included in this plan.” Although, technically those people said, “The free market and the residents.” She then went on to say, “Since we don't know exactly what is going to happen 10, 15, or 20 years down the road, I think it is important to have all the options on the table.” Someone should tell Councilwoman Prince that leaving development up to the residents and the free market does not take anything off the table. If the market and residents have a call for something, a developer will come along to fill it. She then appeared to go on to read from a written statement saying, “I think Plano has been fortunate to enjoy many years of success. It is easy to take that for granted, and assume that we will always be successful. Success is not guaranteed, and it is up to us as leaders to put a plan in place that will help insure that our city is economically viable and attractive to citizens in the future. I believe this plan attempts to balance the needs and views of a diverse group of citizens living in Plano today and the future.” Did she zone out during the residents comments? It seemed like she missed all the people who have problems with the plan, and their views were not listened to. She ended her comments with, “Cities with vision become cities that thrive, and because I want Plano to always be a city that thrives I will be supporting the vision tonight.” While there has not been a “plan” specifically for this area, Plano has had comprehensive plans before. For example, the Plano Tomorrow Plan which is currently in place. The city has created many plans that have failed East Plano, and will continue to fail. It is like we are driving towards a cliff and the driver (government) thinks the car just needs more gas. I have a better idea, the government needs get out of the car and leave the driving to the residents.
Councilman Ron Kelly spoke next. He started with a question for the City Attorney, in which he asked her, “Is this a zoning case?” She said, “No.” He then quoted a resident who said, “Plano has always had vision…Some recent examples of that are Legacy West. It started with a vision.” Apparently it forgot to vision a lift station. “The resurgent of downtown Plano started with a vision…'Make no mistake about it, our actions tonight creates no zoning changes, and no development plans.” He also stated he has talked to residents from the area who had their homes go down in valve. “I think we can do much much better in that part of town. I have done some research into what people are looking for today and there is a consistent theme. They are looking for neighborhoods that are loaded with amenities. They are also looking for civic gathering places. They are looking for retail, businesses, restaurants, green open space and envision oak point can do that.” Excuse me Councilman Kelly, the developer who built Frisco Lakes in Frisco already did that on his own. He also did not cram the people in like sardines to do it. People are also not all looking for the things Ron Kelly stated. Apparently he did not listen to the residents who spoke either; some people want to live a more rural lifestyle. For example, the people in Parker (the town right next to East Plano) move there for that specific lifestyle. Houses in Parker have to have a minimum number of acres. Yes, acres not feet. The people there prefer the wide open space, and would certainly not be happy to live somewhere with buildings every few feet. Councilman Kelly finished by saying he would be supporting this vision.
Now the people who helped get Councilman Kelly elected are extremely hurt and upset with him. He got elected after the Plano Tomorrow Plan was passed; his supporters voted for him to stop high density things like this. Now the people that voted for him feel he turned his back on them and say he is a traitor. However, this is not the first time Councilman Kelly's supporters have been disappointed by him, for he has voted for three budgets and three tax rates that his voters were not happy with. Councilman Kelly is up for reelection in May 2019. With his support for this plan and other votes, I predict he wont be getting the same support he got in the last election. I predict if he does not start voting the way the people who put him in office want and expect him to, Councilman Kelly will not win re-election in 2019.
Councilman Grady took his turn next. He started by saying, “Opportunity only knocks once'… 'You either have progress or you have regression'…'If you don't change others will pass you by'…'We need to be as progressive as possible'…'I really appreciate all of the input that everyone has put in either strongly one way or in strongly another.” He appreciates it so much he told his fellow councilmen that were against the plan, “F... you.” Councilmen Grady continued, “If we don't plan and determine things, then somebody else will.” Of course he does not tell us who this someone else is. He would prefer it if government did the planning. So, he supported the plan, and said it was a terrific piece of work.
After Councilman Grady, Councilman Rick Smith spoke again. He said, “It is just a wish list'…'It is not being incorporated into our master plan [Plano Tomorrow Plan]'…'I want to see good things happen for the East side'…I am in support of this plan.” This shocked Councilman Rick Smith's supporters. He, too, was voted into office to stop high density, so his supporters also felt he turned is back on them. I must give Councilman Smith credit, however, for going up to the people who were unhappy with his vote and talking to them. He understood why they were upset, and he seemed sorry that he disappointed them. On the other hand, Councilman Kelly did not stay around to explain himself to those who were upset with him and his vote.
Last but not least, the Mayor got his turn. The Mayor, yet again, did not care about what the residents had to say. He was for this plan from the beginning, and nothing was going to change his mind. He wants to make a Legacy West in East Plano. Personally I hate Legacy West; it is far too crowed for me. “We know how to do this [plan a development like Legacy West].” the Mayor said. Except when he planned for Legacy West he forgot about sewer and water for it. “[We] plan out in a thoughtful way.” He must mean thoughtful to people who want that kind of development. It is very unthoughtful to the people who don't like it. The Mayor then pointed out the gentleman who said he did not like the fact that he was being called a racist for simply opposing the plan. The Mayor said, “Not everyone who opposes Envision Oak Point is a racist but some are. When you equate high density and apartments with crime and bad schooling it's racist.” First of all Mayor, not everyone who is against high density or apartments are racist. South Lake does not have any apartments and does not want them. Does that make everyone in South Lake a racist? Of course not. Secondly, to allege that only minorities live in apartments and high density areas is completely racist. Who says only white people want to live in a rural or suburban area? Further more, people of all colors and backgrounds live in apartments. People who are worried about schools going down due to high density are not racist. They are worried the schools will become overcrowded. It is a fact that children in overcrowded schools do not do as well as children who don't. That has nothing to do with color; it has to do with the ratio of teachers to children. Here is another fact, the more people you have the more crime you have. Again that is just what the numbers tell us. It is one reason why people who compare crime rates of cities only look at cities with similar population sizes. It would also not be fair to compare Plano's crime rate with that of a city with only 1000 people. If they did, Plano would have the higher crime rate every time. It is also racist of the Mayor to allege that only minorities commit crimes. The last time I checked white people commit crimes too.
I titled this piece, The Day Democracy Died, because more people were against the plan than were for it. If you did the math at the being of this post, you would have realized that 58 people were against the plan and 21 were for it. Even though the USA is a constitutional republic, we do hold elections democratically. If the people who were there last night voted on this plan, it would have failed by a landslide. That is only the people who filled out cards. More people emailed and called the council members to voice their opposition to the plan, however, those people's votes were not seen. Six of the council members ignored the results of the “vote”, and by ignoring the will of the people, they killed the last bit of Democracy in Plano. Why? The reason is the same in every oligarchy, they think they know what is best.
This is Plano's Political Pit Bull