President Julie Jones called the meeting to order and introduced Bettina Reutter, Elizabeth Macy and Panacea Theriac, who were active in the opposition to the Sun Yard hotel development. The idea was to hear about their experience and learn from their success as other neighbors work to have their issues with HANO or the “poshtel” addressed.
Panacea became aware of the development when she got the zoning change notice in the mail, and was alarmed about it. The near neighbors know each other well and called each other. They also know each other from gathering at the “Chaz Fest” event that used to take place on the property. Elizabeth was out of the state when the news started to come in. Her backyard backs up to the yard where Sun Yard would host events. The group was diverse and had an assortment of helpful skills, which was advantageous. In addition to contacting people in the neighborhood they made efforts to inform folks outside of the immediate area. Efforts were made to distribute information to neighbors in a variety of ways – telephone, email, door-to-door – so that nobody would be left out, and gathered as much contact info as they could.
Sharing letters that were written to the HDLC, ARC, and City Council was helpful, so that other neighbors could have ideas about what to write. Getting press was also important, so that the issue would be heard about outside of just their block. Through the process they learned a lot about how city government works and grew closer as neighbors. Allen Johnson from FMIA commented on how the group organized their speakers at public meetings, and how it has inspired his organization. Instead of several people saying the same thing over and over in the short two minutes that are allowed, they each took on individual issues to maximize time. The only issue with that approach is if speakers get called up out of order. Joe Brown suggested numbering the cards that speakers hand in so they know what order speakers would like to be called up.
Organizers also met with City Council members outside of public meetings whenever possible, and sent thank you notes when they took time to meet with them. They printed maps showing where all the members of their group lived in relation to the proposed development to show at the meetings.
Establishing personal contact was extremely helpful, and they created a phone bank from numbers they got off their petition so they could call to personally remind neighbors about upcoming meetings. They brought their petitions to events around town. They focused on getting signatures in the neighborhood first but then talked to people all over the city as time went on.
Julie then brought up an upcoming meeting regarding a proposed up-zoning at the lot at 4100 Charters, which HANO owns and plans to develop. In the past the lot held as many as 50 units. A few proposals have come up for larger, but fairly reasonable developments. The latest proposal is very large, with more than 150 units, which would include 60% “affordable” units, with the rest rented out at market rate. The developer, ITEX, plans to lease the property and would own the building. Ron Loesel from Weber Consulting (hired by ITEX) informed everyone that the CPC report had been released earlier that day. It can be viewed by using the city’s “One Stop App” web site and searching for 4100 Royal.
A member commented that the increase in traffic this development would create would be a major issue, as well as the impact on infrastructure. He suggested that outside of scale and massing, neighbors should make note of all the other specific issues. Joe Brown added that the “Arrive” hotel that is planned for the lot across the street would exacerbate many of these issues. Getting facts correct in letters to city officials helps to be taken seriously.
Since the lot is owned by HANO the HDLC only is able to serve in an advisory capacity. A member commented that it didn’t seem right that the development is being called a HANO development when the reality is that ITEX is leasing the property to profit off of the development.
These minutes were transcribed from a recording made by Mark Gonzales.
Respectfully submitted by Tyler Harwood, co-secretary