Monday, June 21, 2021

Goals for our New City Council

Richardson has a new City Council. Three new members were elected in May, taking seats alongside two others who were elected in 2019. That leaves only two members with more than one term of service (Bob Dubey, with two prior terms, and Paul Voelker, with four). Early in each council's term, it's traditional for them to set goals for their own term. I have a suggestion. ;-)

Richardson's Comprehensive Land Use Plan is getting long in the tooth. It was last updated in 2009. That was another era. It was two years before the last segment of the Bush Turnpike opened. The City Manager was Bill Keffler. The mayor was someone named Steve Mitchell. Remember that? No one on the City Council at the time still serves. It's time for a new generation of leaders to put their own stamp on the planning document for Richardson in the 2020s and beyond.

Richardson's zoning ordinances are in need of a scrubbing as well. Rules and regulations for parking minimums, drive-thrus, sidewalk and patio dining, duplexes, four-plexes, accessory dwelling units, home offices, home businesses, short-term rentals, and on and on, are out of date and holding back Richardson's progress.

Also in need of review is Richardson's use of tax incentives, including TIFs for developers and home improvement tax incentives for homeowners. Have we done a study on the payback, if any, of these? Remember, we're still on the hook for tax breaks for future development at Palisades. Was that a good deal for the City?

I won't get ahead of things by beginning to talk about any specific reforms I'd like to see. There's time for getting down in the weeds later. For now, all that's needed is for the 2021-2023 City Council to set a goal for Richardson to review and update our planning documents to reflect the needs of today.

Additional subjects for the goals on my wishlist:

  • Affordable housing (if you work or attend school in Richardson, you ought to be able to live in Richardson
  • Diversity on boards and commissions
  • Urban planning expertise on City Plan Commission
  • Urban planning for climate change
  • Policing reform
  • Switching to single-member electoral districts


Scott said...

Good points all. I'd also like to see conversation about converting some of the empty office / warehouse spaces into residential. Can the existing infrastructure support that? What would the zoning / development process look like?

Jeremy Thomason said...

You might want to fact check the origin of George Bush (190). Pretty sure it opened in late 90’s…a full decade before 2009. I realize that this is not your point….a point i agree with….and a point that i would add to by saying that any un-updated master plan type of document that is inherited by a new council every 2 years should be reviewed (especially by new council people) as to whether it is long in the tooth.

Mark Steger said...

Thanks, Unknown, for the comment. I misspoke. I should have said the Master Plan was last updated two years before the Bush Turnpike was completed, not opened. According to DOT, "The original PGBT opened in phases between 1998 and 2006. The Eastern Extension began construction in October 2008 and opened to motorists on December 21, 2011."
P.S. Anonymous comments are discouraged.

Jeremy Thomason said...

I figured out how to add my name. Wasn’t trying to be anonymous.

Alastair said...

I would also like to see this happen. Hopefully these issues will be looked at and actually move meaningfully in the right direction.

Mark Steger said...

At the budget workshop in July, 2021, City Manager Dan Johnson said that the master plan for parks would be reworked this coming year. Mayor Paul Voelker asked that the Comprehensive Plan at least be scheduled for revision, not this coming year, but perhaps the next year. Dan Johnson said that with all the planned developments the City has done over the last ten years, in his mind, the Comprehensive Plan has been undergoing continual revision. He foresaw rolling all that work up into the Comprehensive Plan.