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Proposition Number 2 is stirring up controversy in San Marcos

The Charter Review Commission rewrote the city’s declaration of goals, but not everyone in town is pleased with the results.  Even though the re-write is very similar, one of the big differences between the two is the omission of the phrase pertaining to neighborhood integrity.

“The goal’s of the city government are to create a strong community, foster a high quality of life, promote neighborhood integrity, support sound community and economic development, conserve and protect the city’s natural resources and the environment, and safeguard the health, safety and welfare of the city’s residents.”

The newly revised version reads like this:

“The goals of the city government are to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of the city’s residents, provide for a high quality of life, foster intergovernmental liaison and communication, encourage responsible citizenship, promote sound community and economic development, conserve and protect the city’s natural resources and environment.”

Many Texas communities have programs devoted specifically to protecting the integrity of their neighborhoods, including Carrollton, College Station, and Richardson. These programs focus on code enforcement, property reinvestment, and the expectation that neighborhoods should be secure and well maintained.

City Councilman John Thomaides is against the change of verbiage. “I made a motion to leave the words in there, but we only got two votes,” said Thomaides, referring to himself and City Councilman Gaylord Bose.

Although Thomaides is fond of the new draft proposed, he respectfully disagrees with it. He believes the Charter Review Commission intended to include “neighborhood integrity” under the new phrasing. He said those words are important.

“You ought to say it in simple, plain English,” said Thomaides.

A spokesperson for the San Marcos Council of Neighborhood Associations agrees with Thomaides. She is opposed to the change. “I want it to read the same way it did,” said Ana Mendoza, Rio Vista Neighborhood Representative.

Voters will have the final word on November 4. Early voting begins on October 20.

by: Mary Dichard

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#1 Comment By Ted Marchut On 10/14/2008 @ 6:10 pm

It is very discouraging that this was left out. I would love to hear an explanation as to why.

Whatever the reason for the change, there are serious issues here with safety, quality of life, responsible citizenship, promotion of a sound community and protection of the environment over here, all of which we still expect the city to address.

Still, it is difficult to see this as other than a slap in the face to neighborhood residents. In what way does this omission improve the city?

#2 Comment By Scott Gregson On 10/14/2008 @ 6:24 pm

What is wrong with a declaration within our City Charter promoting the integrity of our neighborhoods? Why should this be removed from our goals as a city? Is the alternative to not promote neighborhood integrity? Is there something we should know about the direction our city is taking with respect to our neighborhoods? We must respect ourselves first before we can ever expect respect from others.

#3 Comment By Elena Duran On 10/14/2008 @ 7:08 pm

Maybe cause CONA hasnt really done a whole lot to promote our neighborhoods as of late. I will probably catch a whole lot of flack because I have said this but it needed to be said. CONA as an organization is not as respected as an organization as it used to be. Just saying…. And I think Im saying what alot of other members just want to say

#4 Comment By Steve Harvey On 10/14/2008 @ 7:24 pm

Over at the City of College Station website, they say “The term Neighborhood Integrity is often used to describe the core components that make up the identity of a particular neighborhood. There are certain attributes that contribute positively to neighborhoods, such as:

* definable boundaries (roads, land use, natural boundaries),
* relatively compact size that promotes interaction between neighbors,
* and connectivity or reasonable proximity to schools, parks, clinics, etc.

Similarly, Neighborhood Integrity incorporates a quality-of-life aspect. Residents expect neighborhoods to be relatively quiet, safe, have lower volumes of traffic and be well maintained. Making sure the character and feel of a neighborhood remains stable and protected will also help solidify its identity over time.”

Well, all of that sounds pretty good to me, so I too am wondering why “Neighborhood Integrity” has been proposed to be removed?

#5 Comment By Tyler Ferguson On 10/14/2008 @ 7:39 pm

I see this half in and half out. I believe that if the phrase had never existed in the first place, there would be no need to include it at all. After all, one with any common sense at all would assume that it is somewhat of an “implied goal.” It would seem like protecting neighborhood integrity is a given for any city government, therefore I believe that it would not need to be stated. However, the fact that the phrase does exist creates a different scenario. In the current situation, removing the phrase would strongly imply that somehow we were against neighborhood integrity. for that purpose, I believe that we need to keep it in the statement.

#6 Comment By Paul On 10/14/2008 @ 11:55 pm

I have to agree with Tyler Ferguson in that neighborhood integrity is an implied goal, however I’d like to know why the Charter Review Commission was inclined to remove that phrase from the city’s goals.

#7 Comment By Tyler Ferguson On 10/15/2008 @ 5:47 am

I agree. Removing the phrase implies that “we once wanted Neighborhood integrity, but now we do not.” Its not an implied goal anymore if it was actually removed.

#8 Comment By Amy Kirwin On 10/15/2008 @ 10:36 am

I agree the language should include “promote neighborhood integrity”. If we look at the “goals”, they could all be implied. San Marcos needs to give equal respect to all aspects of her community if we are to positively attract residents, businesses, and visitors.

Even if CONA has not been out-spoken lately, that does not mean “neighborhood integrity” should be taken out. If the chamber had been doing nothing, would the city walk away from “promoting sound…. economic development”? NO!

Many cities in Texas and the nation have a department dedicated to neighborhoods- planning, code enforcement, advocating, etc. San Marcos removed this area a few years ago.

As I am talking with my friends and neighbors about the upcoming elections, I will be informing them on prop 2- asking that they vote against it.

#9 Comment By Kathy M.Morris On 10/15/2008 @ 12:05 pm

The Charter Review Commission deliberation of proposition 2 was based on two main issues;
1. The City Charter Goal is intended to be a broad, all inclusive definition of the basic purpose of the incorporated city.
2. The City Mission Statement-not in the charter- isa document that is formulated, based on the Charter Goal,annually by the Council,as part of the budget process, to include those specific community/city priorities that are of importance and action.

These 2 statements support each other but are not intended to be exactly the same- the Charter Goal statement is a basic and general description and the Mission statement-not in the charter and shouldn’t be-is very specific and serves as the fiscal year funding mechanism to accomplish the goals.

While our City enjoys many amenities like neighborhood integrety, parks, streets, recreational facilities, library, activity center, youth and senior programs- only to name a few- we did not include any or all of these individually, but generally, with the term “high quality of life” supported by the remainder of the text- “The goals of the city government are to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of the city’s residents, provide for a high quality of life, foster intergovernmental liaison and communication, encourage responsible citizenship, promote sound community and economic development, conserve and protect the city’s natural resources and environment.”

This item has been discussed at two seperate city council meetings and was met with general understanding and agreement. This has nothing to do with CONA- just as it has nothing to do with Parks and Rec or the Library or the Public Works Department- the list could go on and on-

Keep this in mind–The City Charter is a Constitution for governance-a basic established law-that gives the citizens, and their elected council, the right to initiate the rules of action, based on the Charter, through public discussion,input,ordinance and resolution-
Thanks for seeking additional information-
Kathy M Morris- Chair 08 Charter Review Commission

#10 Comment By ED On 10/15/2008 @ 2:05 pm

Now, doesnt everyone feel better?

#11 Comment By liberalish On 10/15/2008 @ 2:37 pm

not really. i’m actually kind of sad.

#12 Comment By Ted Marchut On 10/15/2008 @ 2:51 pm

Not really.