Here's the quote from Omar's latest mailer.
Source: Amir Omar mailer.
After the jump, my thoughts.
The quote means nothing without context. What did she say before and after those six words? My guess is that this quote was probably a slip of the tongue. Maczka probably meant to say "we are now an inner suburb" or "we are now an inner ring suburb." Even if she was attempting to draw attention to the challenges Richardson faces by comparing them to the challenges faced by "inner cities," she's right that some of the challenges are the same. All cities face the same challenges -- at different times, in different amounts -- whether you are Richardson or Dallas or Plano or Allen.
Besides my distaste for Omar's quoting out of context, I was even more turned off by Omar pledging to "push back against ... unnecessary growth." This is a retreat from pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use, transit-oriented development. Either he's merely pandering now to those who think Richardson can return to what life was like in 1950, or he has made a 180 degree turn in his own vision as expressed in his four years of service on Richardson's city council.
On his own blog, Richardson resident David Chenoweth states this retro-argument:
He gets it backwards. Higher density doesn't add to the problems. It relieves the problems he cites. The alternative to higher density is sprawl. Sprawl leads to more drivers traveling longer distances, exacerbating traffic problems. All those grass lawns and swimming pools in those single family houses everyone wants suck water from our dwindling water supplies, exacerbating our water shortages. Higher density does not add to these problems. It relieves them.Some people want high density, some people don’t, myself included. Traffic is already bad enough, water is already on short supply and from what the candidates are saying, this time, water rationing is not going to ever go away. High density seems to add to the problems.
Source: Just My 2 Cents Worth.
Whether you like higher density or not, economics is what's driving it. Sure, Frisco is still growing. But as oil prices go up and the costs of maintaining those green lawns and swimming pools go up, there's also a growing demand for housing closer to employment and transportation options. If you don't see Richardson in that sentence, you haven't been paying attention. That growing demand makes land prices in premium locations along US 75 and the President George Bush Turnpike and the DART lines too valuable to develop as single family detached housing. The rising costs of oil and water makes higher density, transit-oriented development more and more attractive whether Richardson residents like it or not. And don't dismiss the rights of those property owners who do like it, namely those who own that ever-appreciating land in those premium locations.
I thought Amir Omar understood all this. Was I wrong? Or is he merely pandering to voters who don't like development? Either way, this is the most disappointing move by Omar in this whole election campaign.
P.S. A cynical explanation of Omar's mailer is that he's trying to change the topic of conversation away from his own personal bankruptcy. What better way to change the conversation than to make a wild charge of his own, like Maczka wants more apartments "near our homeowners and more children feeding into our schools." That last bit is dog whistle politics, a topic that can burn Omar more than help him.
P.P.S. Alert readers will have noticed that my own quote from Omar's mailer was taken out of context and even used ellipses to emphasize the point I wanted to make. Maybe I should say something about sauces and ganders here.