The following is a press release form Allan Samara, V.P. Communications Plano Citizens Coalition.
Comprehensive Plan Select Committee Reaches(CPRC) agreement on A New Comprehensive Plan for Plano with a 15-0 vote.
The CPRC Comprehensive Plan Review Committee reached agreement tonight on a new plan for Plano’s growth and passed it by a 15-0 vote and
sent it on for review by Plano’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
The CPRC, a select committee of 16 citizens was appointed by the City Council in August to create a new plan to replace the controversial Plano
Tomorrow Plan of 2015 which voided by the City Council following a successful court ruling by a citizen’s referendum petition suit that dragged on
for more than 4 years and at one point reached the Texas Supreme Court.
The CPRC needed a 12 vote supermajority to adopt the draft document and received a 15-0 vote affirmation, after over 3000 hours invested in
planning meetings over the last 15 months. The committee of 16 was appointed by the City Council and began work in January 2020.
City Council candidate Justin Adcock who ran on a platform of keeping Plano suburban, hailed the decisive vote as a “potential Win-Win victory for
Plano Homeowners and developers, as an essential element of his campaign to win a Council seat.
“We’ll have to assess the plan in detail as it comes through the process of approval through public hearings and then to our new council by early fall
but we’re all hopeful that the new plan will bring a new sense of cooperation and support for Plano’s suburban character.”
Lily Bao, running for Mayor on a platform promise to “Limit Density to Protect the Suburban Character of Plano” remarked that the new plan “Will
give us all hope that a new fresh breath of air to continue Plano’s growth and excellence for decades to come.”
The Plan goes forward to the Planning and Zoning Commission which may pass it by a simple majority or amend the plan and which will trigger
public hearings where the citizens of Plano will have a chance to weigh in on Plano’s future Comprehensive Plan.
BY STANLEY KURTZ of National Review
APRIL 7, 2021
With the introduction of his massive, $2.3 trillion “infrastructure” bill, President Biden’s campaign to end suburban single-family zoning has begun. If you think this issue was debated and resolved during the 2020 presidential campaign, you are mistaken. It’s true that Biden’s campaign platform openly and unmistakably pledged to abolish single-family zoning. As soon as President Trump made an issue of that pledge, however, Biden went virtually silent on the issue and the Democrat-supporting press falsely denied that Biden had any designs on single-family zoning at all. Now that he’s president, Biden’s infrastructure bill openly includes programs designed to “eliminate” single-family zoning (which Biden calls “exclusionary zoning”).
How, exactly, does Biden plan to end single-family zoning? According to the fact sheet released by the White House, “Biden is calling on Congress to enact an innovative new competitive grant program that awards flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take concrete steps to eliminate [‘exclusionary zoning’].” In other words, Biden wants to use a big pot of federal grant money as bait. If a county or municipality agrees to weaken or eliminate its single-family zoning, it gets the federal bucks.
The wildly overreaching Obama-Biden era Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation — which Biden has pledged to revive — works in a similar fashion. The difference is that by adding another gigantic pot of federal money to the Community Development Block Grants that are the lure of AFFH, Biden makes it that much harder for suburbs to resist applying — and that much more punishing to jurisdictions that forgo a share of the federal taxes they’ve already paid so as to protect their right to self-rule.
Are federal carrots enough, however? Prosperous suburbs may forgo the grants in an effort to secure their independence. The success of Biden’s initiative depends in part on exactly how much money gets allocated to grants tied to zoning reform. The details of that ask haven’t yet been released, but the $213 billion allocated to Biden’s total affordable housing initiative leave room for an awfully big pot for the anti-zoning portion.
If there aren’t enough carrots, however, how about sticks? During the campaign, Biden backed a draconian plan to withhold federal transportation grants for road repair from suburbs that refuse to kill off single-family zoning. That hasn’t been proposed by Biden, and the reason is fairly obvious. Democrats don’t yet have the votes to pass such a law. The only way they can get around the filibuster is to squeak spending bills through Congress under the rules on “reconciliation.” So, for now, it’s carrots all the way down. If Senate Dems expand their majority and kill the filibuster in 2022, however, out come the sticks and down goes suburban zoning.
There’s more danger in store for America’s suburbs in Biden’s current proposal than meets the eye, however. If I were administering Biden’s various federal housing programs, I would sucker well-off suburbs into accepting grants on lenient terms. The trick is that once a jurisdiction accepts a HUD grant, it has to sign a statement promising to “affirmatively further fair housing.” Now that Biden is going to revive the old Obama-Biden AFFH rule, that pledge can be used by activist non-profits or the administration itself to sue localities for failing to meet the outrageously expanded definition of that term set forth in Obama’s AFFH. It was suits like this that dragged Westchester County, New York through years of federal control and torment. Just the threat of such suits intimidated Democratic officials in Dubuque, Iowa into surrendering their city’s self-rule to the Obama administration.
Here’s the bottom line: Biden’s campaign to abolish suburban single-family zoning has well and truly begun. As during the Obama era, it will likely escalate in intensity with each passing year. At this point, any jurisdiction in the country that wants to keep control of its zoning and development should decline to apply for federal housing grants. No matter how good the money looks, sign that promise to “affirmatively further fair housing” — as the Biden administration will define it — and you are signing away your birthright.
There’s a pattern here. Biden and the Democrats are working overtime to undermine the federalist system in which zoning and education are local concerns. In each case — housing and education — the plan is the same: use federal grants to hook states and localities into conditions that will effectively override their authority. Kill suburban zoning and force leftist action civics and critical race theory on red-state schools. Siphon off taxes and return the money to taxpayers with conditions that effectively gut the foundational layer of our federalist system — the layer closest to the people.
If Republicans have the good sense to make an issue of Biden’s attack on single-family zoning, it will split the Democrats down the middle. The media will keep trying to cover for Biden. But once the administration begins enforcing AFFH, the reality of his policies will emerge. College-educated suburban Democrats won’t like that. Republicans are split on this issue as well, however, although the split is more politicians from the base than a split within the base. Under Obama, House Republicans overwhelmingly voted to defund AFFH, but Senate Republicans divided. This time, the GOP ought to get smart and expose Biden’s “infrastructure” bill as the anti-suburban zoning bill it in fact is. That would change the “infrastructure” narrative from a Christmas tree studded with goodies to a hammer to smash your way of life.
Naturally, this will all be called code for racial discrimination, but Democrats now lay that charge on pretty much every measure favored by Republicans. Curiously, earlier this week, the New York Times featured a story on opposition to an affordable housing initiative that would rezone New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. Residents worry that the rezoning proposal will bring more massive high-rises, tourists, and traffic into a neighborhood famous for low-rise, nineteenth-century architecture and narrow cobblestone streets. Many say the rezoning proposal is more about pleasing developers than affordable housing. It’s unlikely that many, or any, of these residents voted for Donald Trump in 2020. And the Times story prominently features an opponent of the rezoning initiative who is black. Nor is that an outlier case.
Last summer, when California floated a measure to kill single-family zoning, there was powerful opposition from residents who objected to a law that would make their neighborhoods denser, noisier, and more filled with traffic. Predominantly minority residents in South Los Angeles saw the bill as an “affront to how hard Black Americans fought to join single-family neighborhoods, battling redlining, racist covenants and even targeted violence. And they worried that suddenly relaxing zoning rules would not only ruin the low density they enjoyed, but also unleash an investment flood that would accelerate displacement of the Black community as developers scooped up old homes and built new ones unaffordable to most in the community.”
The zoning issue is tough and complex. It balances principled libertarian objections to zoning and the interests of developers, on the one hand, against core principles of federalism and local control, on the other. Massive spending and taxation are fundamental to the federal effort to override local zoning laws. Neighborhood preservation vies with “creative destruction.” There are plenty of complex, conflicting, and legitimate considerations in the balance. But reducing the zoning issue to bogus charges of “racism” is the way Democrats play the game nowadays.
If Republicans find the courage to stand up to the usual nonsense and oppose this big-government attempt to kill off the federalist system itself, they will find not only the vast majority of Republicans, but a great many independents and Democrats in their corner.
STANLEY KURTZ is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
We just got the following from Councilwoman Lily Bao’s Communications Director.
(Plano’s Political Pit Bull’s analysis is at the bottom.)
“Plano City Council to take up the issue of the conversion of taxable multifamily properties into tax-free lifetime entities through the legal loophole of adopting a tax-free agency as a fractional development partner. Councilwoman Lily Bao places the issue on the council agenda for their March 16th meeting to support House Bill 1604 tightening the loophole, which threatens the tax base of City and School district funding for Plano, Collin County and statewide taxing entities.
Councilwoman Lily Bao attended a meeting of the non-profit Plano Housing Authority on Friday September 4th on an afternoon at the start of Labor Day weekend, at it she learned that Plano Housing Authority planned to participate in a new state housing initiative that would allow an apartment developer to convert his project to a totally property tax-free asset by drawing in the local affordable housing authority with a microscopic ownership share and allow it to be free of City, County, School District and College District taxes for its entire useful life. It’s an apparent loophole that “affordable” housing advocates are utilizing to enhance developer’s property values by millions, for for-Profit-majority owners, while escaping property taxes wholly for the entire lifetime of the property.
A giveaway that is built into State law Sec. 303.042(f) penalizing school districts and especially high-value property communities like Plano and PISD. To aggravate matters thoroughly, in high-land value suburbs, the apartments don’t even provide the advantage of affordability.
As an example, in Plano the eligibility for assisted housing would be placed at 80% of the average family income or approximately ($83,000 x.80) $66,400 and the apartment rent would have to fit into 30% of gross income. At a peak this would mean (66,400 x .30= $19,920 annually) or a limit of $1660. per month rent. Hardly “affordable” but very lucrative for the for-profit out-of-town development partners trafficking in this questionable conversion, and leaving millions in added value to be distributed in the form of service fees and maintenance set asides, all because no property taxes are owed.
[Councilwoman] Lily Bao views this loophole as a fraud on the taxpayers, the schools, the county and as a councilwoman a fraud on the city treasury. As a person whose name Bao means “protect”, she was rightfully offended, but offended for the people of Plano.
To bring matters home, an aging apartment complex at 7301 Alma Rd. called “The Alexan” had its sale fall through prior to closing to one developer, only to re-emerge with a new name as a quick sale to another known for affordable housing conversions and it joins three other projects being similarly converted to delete these properties as contributors to the city services and schools they will utilize.”
· Link to House Bill 1604….....https://legiscan.com/TX/text/HB1604/id/2275850
· The following are projects as of December 3rd for Plano Public Facility Corporation resolutions:
1.Enclave at Legacy
2.Fountains at Steeplechase
4.Alexan at Plano Central(renamed JAIDA)
· The Following is a study by the University of Texas School of Law
“Public Facilities Corporation and the Sec.303.042(f)Tax break for apartment developments, a boon for affordable housing or windfall for apartment developers?”
From the Executive summary of the study….”To receive the exemption, a private apartment developer transfers land to a public facility corporation (PFC) set up by a local government entity---such as a public housing authority, county, or city ---which then leases the land and any buildings on the land(including those built in the future) back to a limited partnership controlled by the developer. The local government entity gets paid to participate in the venture.
Other local government—such as school districts—have no say over these tax breaks to for-profit apartment developers even though the tax breaks directly impact these other entities property tax base and bottom line.”
Also from the study:
PPPB’s analysis: Just in case you are confused by what you have read, please allow your lovable Pit Bull to simplify things for you. The owner of an apartment, condo, or townhouse development can sell less then 1% of their property to Plano Housing Authority. After the sale is final, that entire property becomes property tax exempt forever. In other words their property tax bill is now zero, nothing, zilch. However, the people living in these places will still require city resources, which they will not have to pay for. If children live in these developments, those children will get to go to school for free. Now, who do you think gets the wonderful task of paying for all of this free stuff? The property tax paying homeowners, that is who. Who is the big winner in this scheme? Big wealthy developers of course. They make out like bandits while taxpayers get screwed. The Housing Authority also does well in this gimmick. This is why economic fascism (public-private partnership) is evil. The wealthy and “public entity” succeeds, while the common person suffers the exuberant tax burden.
PPPB does not think this is what the TX Legislature originally intended when it passed this amendment in 2015. However, every new law always has unintended consequences, and those consequences always cause suffering. House Bill 1604 attempts to fix the tax free windfall. Please read it and let your state representative know how you feel about the bill. Also, let the Plano City Council know if you want them to support HB1604 by Tuesday, March 16, 2021. If you would like to speak at the March 16th meeting go to https://plano.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_KQGiTb4JRgmLm6oZ82vEUw
Thank you Councilwoman Bao for bringing this issue to our attention.
This is Plano’s Political Pit Bull Signing Off
The election to select Council Members for Places 2, 4, 6 (Mayor), 7 and 8 will be conducted on May 1, 2021. Early voting starts April 19-17. All places are elected at large. Candidates for Places 2 and 4 must live in the districts they are running for. Place 7 is a special election, because Council member Bao is stepping down to run for Mayor.
The following is a list of all the candidates running in each race. The names are in alphabetical order. City council races are nonpartisan. If the candidate has a primary voting record, we wrote it down under their name.
We strongly recommend everyone to do their homework on all the candidates. Question everything they say, and don’t take anything they tell you at face value. Remember these are politicians, so you must read between the lines. If they have a voting record on a board or council, look it up.
PPPB does not and is not endorsing any candidate.
City Council, Place 2
( Sits on the Library Advisory Board. Has voted in the Democrat Primaries.)
(Is the current Place 2 Councilman. Was on the Heritage Commission before being elected to council. Has voted in the GOP Primaries)
City Council, Place 4
(Voted in the GOP Primaries.)
(Has voted in Democrat primaries.)
(Is the current Place 4 Councilwoman. Was on the Planning and Zoning Board before being elected to council. Has voted in the GOP Primaries.)
(Has not voted in any primary, because he registered to vote in Aug 2020.)
City Council, Place 6—Mayor
(Current Councilwoman for place 7. Was on the Housing Board before being elected to council. Has voted in the GOP primaries.)
(Was on the Planning and Zoning Board. Has voted in the GOP primaries.)
(Has voted in the GOP primaries.)
City Council, Place 7
(Has voted in Democrat primaries.)
Bill Lisle III
(Has voted in the GOP primaries.)
(Has voted in the GOP primaries.)
(Has voted in the GOP primaries.)
David M. Smith
(Former city council member from 1993 through 1999. Votes in the Democrat primaries.)
City Council, Place 8
(Voted in the Democrat primary.)
(Current Councilman for Place 8. Has voted in the GOP primaries.)
On February 1, 2021, the Plano Planning and Zoning Board passed zoning case 2020-033 to rezone 5.3 acres located on the corner of Park Boulevard and K Avenue from Corridor Commercial to Planned Development-Corridor Commercial. Even though the new zoning says commercial, the only thing that is planned for this site is a five story low income apartment building with 1-3 bedroom units. A five story residential building that will sit right next to train tracks for the Parker Rail Station 100 feet away, diagonally across from a gun range, and next to a Rent A Tire and a pawn shop. The question this commentator has is, is this spot a good place for adults and children to live?
To answer this question I need to talk about this lot and the surrounding properties. This piece of land has been used as a typical commercial site since 1973. In 1998, one building of two on the property was demolished. In 2002, the City of Plano decided to buy the property for $1.7 million for redevelopment to reinforce transit use. In 2003, the second structure on the property was torn down, so now the lot is empty.
Seventeen years later, in 2020, the Plano Housing Authority approached the City Council to buy the property for $900,000, to be paid in $45,000 installments. If you do the math, that would have been a loss of $800,000. Thankfully, at a June 2020, City Council meeting, the PHA offer was rejected by a vote of 4-3. Council members Bao, Williams, Ricciardelli, and Smith were the majority in that vote.
Next, the City Council decided to see how much they could get for the lot on the open market. In the following months, they got four offers. The Plano Housing Authority then made a bid for $2 million with a $20,000 deposit. The full $2 million will also not be paid off for at least 26 months. Why, you may wonder? You see, the PHA has to file for a grant to actually get the money. Of course, that means they may not be approved for the grant, and won’t be able to buy the land.
A request to accept the Housing Authority’s offer was placed on the consent agenda for the October 26, 2020, City Council meeting. Thankfully, Councilman Williams pulled the request from the consent agenda. During the council’s discussion, Councilman Grady said that the City should take the offer, since it was the highest bid. Councilman Smith said, “The problem is we don’t have an able buyer.” Having a buyer who will not have the money for over a year, and may not ever get the money, is a valid concern. Councilwoman Bao agreed with Councilman Smith, and she did not think housing was the best use for the property. Councilwomen Prince and Tu, as well as the Mayor, did not have any concerns about the deal. Councilman Williams agreed with Smith and Bao. Lastly, Councilman Ricciardelli said that he was fine with the sale of the property to PHA, since they were not voting on what the property would be used for. In the end, the request to sell the property to PHA passed 5-3. Council members Bao, Williams, and Smith were the 3 who voted against.
Fast forward four months to the February 1, 2021, P&Z meeting, the PHA requested to rezone the property to build a five story low income apartment building. 80% of the units would be for low income individuals or families, and 20% would be rented at a fair market value. Board members Samara, Barbara, and Cary were the only ones to have concerns about the area the apartment building would be built, while members Downs, Stone, Horne, Walters, and Gibbons seemed fine with the idea of families living right in front of train tracks. These tracks have trains coming and going from 4:28 A.M. - 1:49 A.M. in 20 minute intervals, and 100 feet from the future apartment building site is the Parker Station where these trains will stop. People will be getting on and off those trains all day and into the wee hours of the morning. The closest train tracks to my home are 1.5 miles away, yet I can hear a moving train from my bedroom every once in a while. Image what a train would sound like right next to your bedroom window every 20 minutes. I can only guess that Downs, Stone, Horne, Walters, and Gibbons have never lived by train tracks, so they did not realize how crazy it is to put an apartment building right in front of them.
The other problem with putting housing on this lot, is it would be the only residential building on K Ave from Park Blvd to Parker Rd. The apartment building will also be the only five story building on the block, so aesthetically it will look out of place.
Now lets talk about what kind of businesses are on this block. Going north from the corner of Park and K Ave, the first thing we see is a Rent A Tire. The PHA will try to get a 99 year lease for this property, so they can take it down and put green space; however, if the owner does not agree to the deal, the Rent A Tire will stay. Directly across the street is a Shell gas station and Chiropractic office. Next to the property in question is a Pawn Shop. Across the street, and next to the Chiropractor, is a run down strip mall with various retail stores. Next to, and slightly behind the Pawn Shop, is a bowling ally, the only business on this street appropriate to have next to homes with children. Across from the bowling ally, and diagonally across from the future apartment building, is a Gun Care Shop and The Bullet Trap Gun Shop and Range. I have shopped and gone shooting at this range, and it is a nice place; however, homes should not be built within walking distance from the Bullet Trap, or any gun range for that matter. Now, I know most Texans love the second amendment and going to the shooting range, but that does not mean they want to live across from one. Continuing north, we have a Tint Windows Shop, an auto sound store, Window Treatment Center, a gym, Auto Electric Services, and a 1st Choice Auto repair shop. Across the street from those business, is an AAMCO. Next to that is a Cash Loans on Car Title place and Public Storage. Across from them are Texaco, U-Haul, and a Convenience Store. Next to those businesses is a large strip mall with retail stores and food pantry. Walk across K Ave, and we have a car wash, convenience store, and fast food restaurant. That is the future neighborhood for the families that will live in this new apartment building. Clearly, this is not a block that was designed for residential housing. This lot and area is obviously not suitable for a residential building. The building will look out of place and the area is unsuitable for adults and/or children to live in. So, to answer my original question, is this spot a place for adults and children to live? The answer is, heck no!
Now, some of you are most likely asking, where is PHA supposed to put low income housing? To answer that question, lets look at where Plano currently has low income housing.
I did a simple internet search and found a list of 13 low income apartment complexes and one house in Plano with availability. All of them on the list are in nice residential neighborhoods. None of them are right next to train tracks or a gun range. In fact, when I did a Google Maps search of all apartments in Plano, all of the complexes that came up are in or near residential neighborhoods. I could not find any apartments in an area like the K Ave block which the PHA wants to build their apartment building on. That is most likely because people don’t want to live in a commercial area next to train tracks, and near a gun range.
If PHA needs to build low income homes, I suggest building small houses next to Plano Center on Jupiter Road and Spring Creek. I suggest this area, because the city owns this land. The city also agreed to lease a part of this area to Radisson Hotels for free in 2018. You can read about this sweet heart deal in the article Corporate Welfare at its Finest at the following link.
If the City truly feels low income housing is so circuital, they should be more then happy to give a portion of empty land near the Plano Center to PHA for the same deal as Radisson. Then the PHA can use the $2 million to build nice homes for poor families.
Some other reasons I recommend this spot is the neighborhood is nice and the Oat Point Nature Preserve is there. Also, current area residents probably won’t mind having single family homes there. Another plus is the area has two bus stops for people who need public transportation; one on the corner of Spring Creek and Des Moines Drive, and the other on Jupiter by Collin College. Clearly, this location is a much better place for people to live than K Ave and East Park Blvd.
The only thing that is suitable for the K Ave property is a parking lot for the train station and businesses nearby. A parking lot would also fit the reason the city bought the land in the first place; to reinforce transit use.
The City Council is scheduled to vote on this zoning request on February 22, 2021. Please contact the City Council members and tell them K Ave and Park Blvd is not a suitable place for people with children, or without, to live. Tell them to vote ‘no’ on zoning case 2020-033.
This is Plano’s Political Pit bull signing off.