Thursday, October 09, 2008

Boss Godfrey Drags Out His Veto Pen

The Lord on Nine suddenly becomes a defender of citizen-driven community planning

This morning's Standard-Examiner reports that Boss Godfrey has vetoed a new ordinance which would have allowed a Montebello, California developer to move forward to develop the glaring central city eyesore at the old IGA shopping center at 24th Street and Monroe. From this morning's Ace Reporter Schwebke story:
OGDEN — In a rare move, Mayor Matthew Godfrey has vetoed a city council ordinance that allows construction of an office and education center adjacent to a proposed Hispanic-themed market.
The veto marks just the third time that Godfrey has challenged a city council vote since taking office in 2000. He issued line-item budget vetoes in 2000 and 2004.
It will take a super-majority of the city council — at least five of its seven members — to overturn Godfrey’s latest veto. The council is scheduled to vote on the veto Tuesday.[...]
The veto stems from a Sept. 16 unanimous city council decision to allow the development of professional office and education buildings despite an earlier ordinance placing a six-month moratorium on construction and alteration applications in some commercial zones.
The aim of the original moratorium, enacted by the city council on Sept. 2, is to give the city time to develop a neighborhood zoning ordinance that provides protection against incompatible commercial development in various locations.
Until the veto issue is settled, The Legaspi Co., of Montebello, Calif., technically can’t move ahead with construction of two buildings adjacent to a Hispanic-themed market it plans to develop within the former IGA grocery store at the corner of 24th Street and Monroe Boulevard.
The Std-Ex has been following this story fairly vigorously, with previous writeups here and here.

As reported in this morning's story, residents of the central city neighborhood are in the midst of formulating a community plan, which would incude, among other things, the enactment of "standards allowing the city to require the size and architecture to be in line with historic, contextual or design characteristics of the neighborhood,” According to Godfrey.

We don't know about the rest of our readers, but it seems to us that any well-funded development in this area, regardless of architectural style or design characteristics, would be a vast improvement over the 50's style flat-tops that now stand in this dilapidated shopping center. The sticking point for some members of the community appears to be the developer's plan to follow a Spanish colonial architectural style - a style that's ubiquitous throughout the U.S. southwest, and not unrepresented in Ogden. We can't help but wonder whether the inclusion of this style in Emerald City standards wouldn't make a wonderful statement about the truly culturally eclectic community that we've grown to be.

This situation is also complicated by accusations by some members of the Utah Hispanic community, that objections to the developer's architectural and operational plans have a nasty racist element about them. With Boss Godfrey at the helm of city government, we're certainly not prepared to rule that out.

We're all for permitting citizens of Ogden neighborhoods to get together to chart the future course of development within their own neighborhoods. The recently completed Mt. Ogden Community plan is ample evidence of how well this concept can work. Neverthless, we wonder whether residents of the central city neighborhood might be going a wee bit overboard in overly-tightening architectural styles within the central city neighborhood, to exclude an architectural style which, it can be argued, is highly representative of the Hispanic population now dominating the neighborhood.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

16 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

It's not a clean call, either way. Yes, the area needs new investment and new businesses and a delay in the project would be unfortunate. But it is also true that community plans serve a real purpose, and that the six month moratorium voted by the Council to allow time for such a plan to be developed was either a good idea [I think it probably was], or it was not. If it was a good idea, then quickly exempting one particular project from the rule that applies to all others in the neighborhood was probably not a good idea. It usually is not wise for city government to make general rules for all to follow, and then to start granting exemptions for particular persons or projects.

It's amusing that the Mayor has having a hissy-fit because the Council refused to grant an exemption from the rules for the owners of the Windsor, and now has gone all over righteous with indignation that the Council did grant an exemption from the rules for the developers of the Hispanic market complex in the mid-city neighborhood. Looks like the Mayor's views on exemptions depends very much on whose particular ox is being gored. [Gee, you don't suppose the Mayor's veto is payback, do you?]

I'd also note that one of the favorite complaints of the Godfrey Gaggle in re: the Windsor matter is that the council thwarted the wishes of a developer who was bringing millions to the city. And now Hizzonah seems to have, by his veto, done the same, thwarting the wishes of a developer who wishes to bring millions to the city. Imagine that....

Have to tell you, Rudi, though, that the Mayor's veto on this issue is, I think, defensible, and were I on the Council I might vote to sustain it. It's not wise to make general rules and then grant quick exceptions to particular parties. Sometimes special circumstances warrant exemptions, but I've seen so far no good arguments that this is such an instance.

PS: the claim that the architectural plans of the Hispanic Market developers are racist is, I think, nonsense. Tacky, maybe [I haven't seen the plans]. But racist architecture? Give me a break....

Curmudgeon said...

Comment promoted to lead article

Jason W. said...

This issue was raised in an horrifically composed, retarded, all-caps email from supposed teacher Cavendish, in which he threatened members of the city council, despite his enormous boiler of hypocrisy prepetually jutting forth. Of course it's payback on the part of Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey, and it's quite petty; because this developer is purportedly not a broke con artist like his other buddies, he can single it out with impunity and thumb his Pinnochio nose, below his gargantuan forehead, at the council. Here are some excerpts from Tom Cavendish's mail:

One week ago, the City Council gave approval, an exception, for further development of the IGA property in the central core of the city, an historic district. You gave this approval without any limitations or guidelines whatsoever. Everyone who heard the City Council knew that a local high school is underused, and empty after 3:00 pm. Yet, permission was given for building offices, school rooms, etc., etc. one block away. You granted these further buildings right in the heart of the old city where there are significant historical architectural buildings. This you did without guidelines, without listening to the neighboring owners, and without consideration of the architectural integrity of central Ogden. You did not lift the moratorium. Yet, you concluded that you could allow an exception by approving the building of additional buildings without any controls. While you were flexible with the situation of the IGA, you were unrelenting in a second issue for 25th Street. While you were considerate of historical guidelines and historical sensitivities for 25th Street, you were blatantly insensitive to the same situation when making a decision for the IGA property. This is also an historic area with significant historical architecture. You put NO, NOT ONE, restriction or guideline in your decision for the IGA. YOU DID IT AGAIN: Against the City Administration's recommendation, against the Planning Commission's decision, and certainly against what the Landmarks Commission would have suggested...

NOW THE REVEALING MOMENT. Tonight, the citizens of central Ogden will meet to begin the Community Plan for the core of this City. Weeks will be spent with residents working, discussing, studying, and writing. We will put together a document that will be unique because we are discussing how to grow the city in the midst of historical settings. Landmarks, historical societies, etc., will all be involved in our planning. This document will guide the city's decisions about the core of this district. As has been quoted over and over, IF THE CORE OF THE CITY DIES, IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT HAPPENS IN THE SUBURBS.
So, the residents march on valiantly taking on one restoration after another while considering new structures which fit the plan we are designing...

If you continue in the style you are developing, we need an agreement before we start. Otherwise, this will be a process in war. IF [redacted] SHOWS UP AT OUR MEETING TONIGHT, IF [redacted] SHOWS UP AT OUR INITIAL MEETING TONIGHT, I will publicly ask for an explanation of the Council's recent and confusing decisions. I will ask for a commitment from these two council members that the work of this Community Plan Process is not going to find itself disregarded and put aside because of petty motives that have driven their City Council votes in the recent past. We will put this Community Plan together in open sessions and with determination to protect our neighborhoods. We will not allow petty attacks to disuade us.

You are a beast, Cavendish! A beast, I say!

THE SKI IS BEAUTIFUL BLUE

Curmudgeon said...

Jason:

You wrote: it's quite petty; because this developer is purportedly not a broke con artist like his other buddies.

Well, Jason, whether the developer is well-funded or not is, seems to me, beside the point. As are the motives, whatever they may be, behind Mr. Cavindish's intemperate choleric rant. The question before the Council now is this: are the circumstances of the Hispanic market allied buildings proposal sufficiently special and compelling to justify an exemption from the temporary building ban imposed on all others in the area? From what I've seen so far, a reasonable person might fairly conclude the answer to that question is "no." Community plans matter, and circumventing them without very good reason is not wise governance.

shortdeck g said...

I can't believe my bumbuddy lil Matt is turning away millions of dollars that could save our boarded-up town!

I guess I'll have to produce the many documents I've collected that prove his anti-development bias.

George K said...

I’d like to add my thoughts to Curmudgeon’s about the Hispanic development. 1) Godfrey has been fighting the LaGasi development for more than 3 years, and keeps coming up with one excuse or another for not allowing it. The first plan was to build a complex of Hispanic businesses that would have provided $6 million tax revenue annually. 2) The community plan will not be completed by the time the moratorium is over. So what happens then? Is the development going to put on hold again? Talk about not being business friendly! 3) What everyone who is concerned about maintaining the historic flavor of the area is that the CITY ADMINISTRATION HAS APPROVED a front façade that really is not appropriate for the historic neighborhood. But then, on the other hand, the James Madison School (formerly Central Middle School) doesn’t lend to the historical flavor of the neighborhood and no one has complained about it. I wonder if the developer would consider a more discreet façade/design for the old Safeway building and the proposed new buildings -- perhaps on the theme of a “grande hacienda” instead of the gaudy proposed façade. CONSTRUCTION OF THOSE APPROVED PLANS WILL CONTINUE AS GRANTED BY THE CITY ADMINISTRATION during the community plan process. 4) It seems to me the Mayor a) doesn’t know what is happening and to what his own administration has committed the city, b) he does not approve of what his administration is doing, c) he is trying to impress the residents of the east central neighborhood, and or d) he saw the opportunity to discredit the council and happily did so. 5) It seems to me that an educational/vocational training center in the center of the Hispanic community is logical, benefits and serves the community well. Also, can’t help but wonder if one of the reasons the mayor vetoed the the additions was because the office building was to contain a real estate office which was potential competition for his “faithful” friend and his appointed real estate agent for the city, Sue Wilkerson.

Curmudgeon said...

GK:

Good post. I'd only note that it still seems to me the rules over the next six months ought, without very compelling reasons to do otherwise, to be made the same for all in the area. It's the spot and special exemption for one project that most had me concerned. It is, as a rule, bad public policy. If the Council decides no new construction should begin in the area until a Community Plan is finished, then so be it. But for all. If the Council decides that construction projects already in process should be permitted while the Community plan process is under way, then so be it. But imposing a ban on some, and exempting others, still seems probably unwise to me as a matter of policy.

George K said...

Curmudgeon,

As I remember the ordinance the Council voted on did not do "spot" exemption. The ordinance was to be written so as to include all the original areas defined in the original ordinance and would allow for educational/training and offices to be constructed in the defined areas during the moratorium.

Does anyone remember for sure?

Curmudgeon said...

GK:

I'd have to see the wording, I guess, but it sounds like a distinction with out much of a difference to me, exempting "educational" and "office" projects only. Sort of like writing specs for a government purchase that manage to "fit" only one provider's product.

Monotreme said...

Curmudgeon:

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one, but that's okay. Reasonable people can disagree and remain friends.

However, I think you missed Rudi's point in the following:

the claim that the architectural plans of the Hispanic Market developers are racist is, I think, nonsense. Tacky, maybe [I haven't seen the plans]. But racist architecture? Give me a break....

(Btw, thanks for that link to BrownViews, Rudi. I was unaware of this blog before and found it quite interesting.)

What Rudi and BrownViews are saying, I think, is that the opposition to faux adobe-style architecture is racist, not the architecture itself. Note the following quote from the BrownViews blog:

Some have even stated that they "don't need or want another 'Alamo'..”

Keisha said...

Thanks for the picture of the derelict IGA Center.

It's been mainly abandoned and derelict for many years.

I shop at Rite-Aid frequently, because it's near my home.

Ive never shopped a t more run-down "shopping center."

Maybe you should give Rite-Aid a hat tip for staying there.

Something needs to be done with this property quickly.

Fortunately, and with the abandoned Wheelright Lumber property, which is now the most embarrassing property in the central city district, I wonder what Mr. Whitebread Godfrey is thinking, as he kowtows to the Likes of Wilkerson and Cavendish, who don't want to see Mexicans in the immediate area.

These Godfeyite need a reality check.s

Curmudgeon said...

Keisha:

Clearly, what we need to do to turn the Wheelright Lumber site around is to run a tourist gondola from downtown to WSU that won't have "stop" within half a mile of the site up a street two or three blocks over from it. Can't fail.

Curmudgeon said...

MM:

Ah, ok. If that's what was meant, I did indeed misread it. Thanks for the heads up.

danny said...

I can't bring myself to comment on this, other than to say the CC should overturn the veto and the reasons are so many and so obvious they should speak for themselves.

On another subject, a few weeks ago I mentioned SKF. It was at 117 at the time. It since gyrated, falling as low as 86 or so, but is now at 181. Last time it went like this it hit 211.

I'm not saying to sell or not to sell now, but we should remember that greed is a vice, and one that can cost you a lot of money.

drewmeister said...

Well, this is the 10th fire in our neighborhood.. it's getting to be a ritual now, around 9:30-10pm, we wait for the firetrucks to show up. And all Standard will publish is one, dinky little article that suggests that these fires seem suspicious. No shit, eh?

But hey, what do I know? I live west of Harrison and more than a block from the temple.

Ogden said...

A new development in the heart of this area would be vital to economic development. I agree that the current buildings are ugly so they need to be renovated. The Hispanic population is one of the fastest growing demographics of Ogden and that won't change any time soon. A well thought out niche grocery store in the heart of the district would be good for the environment, allowing people to walk to the market, much like in other major cities. It also would provide important jobs for those individuals in the area that may not have a college degree yet and more importantly, like any other great city in the world, will create diversity. Godfrey has demonstrated that he is not in touch with the common person or low income shopper by his veto. I also lose additional respect for him since he has caved in to the demands of a few citizens of the area without asking all the residents what they would like, which I know is unrealistic. Someone has another plan for that spot that will generate more income for Godfrey and Wilkerson personally so they are all making sure they lean on him to protect the interests of the white bread already wealthy community dweller.

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