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August 23rd, 2010
Letter to the editor: Approve Paso Robles

To the editor:

Pasa Robles is a great project and a true win for San Marcos.  Any way you look at it, this is a home run. Here are six logical reasons that everyone should consider.

1. The environmental issues have all been addressed, exceeded protective requirements, exceeded town requirements, and  met with approval from the local, state, and federal authorities who have the public mandate — and resources — to protect the best interests of the entire public.

2. This project will provide literally millions of dollars of revenue for San Marcos. This means a shared tax base which will alleviate homeowners from paying the full freight of increased taxes. No growth = higher taxes + fewer jobs. Think about that.

3. This project will provide many local jobs, both in construction and ongoing maintenance.

4. More local jobs will allow more families to have a better quality of life.

5. This project will provide high-quality housing which will help attract the types of businesses we all desire here in San Marcos.

6. There will be parks and golf for both residents and non-residents.

It is time for all citizens of San Marcos to come together and put the best interests of our town first. Pasa Robles represents a step into the future that both protects the environment and also provides an economic boon that our town sorely needs. Beyond this, approving this project will send a positive message to Texas that San Marcos welcomes growth.

Sincerely,
Reen Waterman
San Marcos

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34 thoughts on “Letter to the editor: Approve Paso Robles

  1. #7. This Development will look beautiful, and attract more visitors to stay and play in San Marcos and bring in outside dollars

  2. “Is this the whole feast?” someone famously asks, …”or are these just the talking points?” Methinks this is the same stuff we all stumbled on as the SMCiCo hurried past in the dark, to “git ‘er done” before the lights came on. I still get this incredible flashback to Richard Harris: [singing]: “To dream…the impossible dream…/ To fight… the unbeatable foe….” I need some air.

  3. Somebody please explain to me how building a retirement community will bring jobs to San Marcos? Last I checked, the whole meaning of “retired” is that these folks are no longer in the work force.

  4. Also, please elaborate on exactly what types of businesses a community of retirees would attract that “we all want in San Marcos”. Not to be too glib, but I don’t see the public clamoring for more bingo halls or the like.

  5. Do y’all think the misspelling at the beginning of the letter is really a typo or a deliberate attempt by someone to seem like a financially disinterested but enthusiastic party? This is pathetic.

  6. O turns out he’s financially interested: a real estate agent. On his facebook he says “In my sales career, I see my clients as my flock to shepherd.” Well you can quit licking your chops because this flock won’t be fleeced.

  7. Jeez, this can be a touchy lot. First, we have a real estate agent who likens himself to Jesus (or maybe Muhammad) tending to the people who are the sheep which make up his flock. Next cynic will, following the association, leading the American mind to believe he either eats them for meat of buggers them. It just gets to be a no-win for one who merely wants to succor his sheep, keep them safe and all–nobody ever said “fleece” them, just because some shepherds do that, too. But what does he do with the sheep who are merely nearby, and not protected as a part of the “flock,” per se, which he calls his. Would he rustle them or cross-breed them, or let the weaklings be culled by predators?

    I’d have to have much more information–like signed contract information–to make any decision that the sheep of the village aren’t in danger. Altough they ARE a bit docile and trusting to the call of his pipe, right now. Surely, as the Shepherd says, there could never be a problem.

    Yo! NEWS! You guys know that if you seek accurate basic Information from the City, you can now visit the SM website and see the CARMA presentations, prepared by them, in whole cloth, largely having replaced their OWN?? And that the press releases, speeches, meeting summaries, support docs, etc. are actually being written by CARMA and blessed by the City. Even among a tribe of VERY casual sheep-tending folk, that makes it seem to me as if the pen may contain at least ONE´ wolf, maybe more. But at least shilling for it is ONE more new job. Several slots.

    I’d much rather read our original Staff Reports, for contrast if nothing else. Anybody got access to THOSE? I didn’t check at length, but I don’t think the favor has been returned by putting City info on THEIR website.

    Since when in the world do a Mayor and Council become cheerleaders, promoters, and sponsors of the folks they are NEGOTIATING with? (Piss-poor NEGOTIATORS we have in there.) Heard all about “win-win” negotiations, but we may have seen a quantum leap. The several “concessions” and “considerations” made by CARMA to date seem almost to have appeared after the “dealing” was signed, sealed, and delivered. Can “sheep” INSIST on solid food and shelter, clean water, and a nice place to lie down as the golf-balls and other hazards surround their cotes? AND protection from…well, YOU know–that other more-damaging, though not always fatal–thing that happens to ’em?

  8. A search also shows that Mr. Waterman is the publisher of “Explore the Hill Country” a website promoting the TX Hill Country, where he describes himself as a “real estate professional with extensive experience as broker and developer”
    Mr. Waterman, the website actually seemed informative if I was looking for info on the Hill County, I bet it does help some tourists navigate the area. It also links your contact information for people looking to move here. Nothing wrong with that. However, if you are going to write an editorial stating that “it is time for all citizens of San Marcos to come together and put the best interests of our town first,” then you should give full financial disclosure stating that you will personally have a financial incentive if this project moves forward.

  9. Just shows the Casa Rubles “Project” has ALREADY begun creating jobs, in the form of a small theater group and media arm–actors delivering the Gospel via every possible channel, from “informational” meetings with little information, to custom PR work and advocacy, to provision of glossy electronic productions now residing ON the City;’s official info site. Hope they are permanent, and pay a living wage.

    Can folks in public office actually become outspoken advocates of groups they are “in negotiation” with? That’s a hell of a weak negotiating posture. Are we of SM leaving a lot on the table? Other than the ad hoc mechanism of the TIRZ, I mean? (That one might likely be done anyway, some time down the road when it was appropriately NEEDED.) Seems the citizen-detectives have gained much ground in the time since their Leaders had “this thing sewed up.” Bet there are still a great many who have heard NOTHING except from those who promise them “Something really GREAT is coming!” and read the talking points–then, not even consistently.

  10. who cares if hes an agent

    i got no ties and making no money off of it but plan on spending thousands out there

  11. Billy

    we see the big picture in this

    San marcos needs this, u even said when you were mayor, u tried to bring in a championship course.

  12. Mr. “Waterman” (that’s ironic):

    You state:

    “1. The environmental issues have all been addressed, exceeded protective requirements, exceeded town requirements, and met with approval from the local, state, and federal authorities who have the public mandate — and resources — to protect the best interests of the entire public.”

    However:

    18.Steve Harvey August 23rd, 2010 8:15 pm :

    writes:

    “I obtained copy of an EAA letter against treated wastewater being used by Carma in the proposed Paso Robles golf course. Email me (steve.harvey @ cleantegrity.com) if you want a copy of the letter. They very clearly state that “use of reclaimed water on the recharge zone is not in the best interest of aquifer water quality,” and “incorporation of reclaimed water into the aquifer would represent a degradation of ambient water quality.”

    and I agree with Mr. Harvey:

    “Perhaps our City Staff somehow forgot about this letter when they sought to reassure the P&Z Commissioners to not worry about using wastewater on the golf course? Or, is this another example where critical staff assessment of the merits is being suppressed in order to hustle the approval process before November elections?”

    San Antonio won’t allow this type of golf course development over their portion of the aquifer.

    Why should we?

    This smacks of the now typical and predictable mayoral pressure and manipulation to ramrod this deal through, for the benefit of a few opportunistic politicians and their developer friends, while permanently jeopardizing our very drinking water supply, and placing an additional unreasonable ($20 million dollar) financial obligation on our taxpaying citizenry with the TIRZ which is traditionally meant for areas of inner city urban blight, and the like.

    The TIRZ is not meant to sponsor new gated golf course communities, on pristine aquifer recharge land, for the benefit of wheeler-dealer developers who curry favor with our politicians.

    All so you can make a quick buck.

    No.

    Unacceptable.

    There will be consequences for supporting this outrage, San Marcos City Council members.

  13. This Mayor is soo smart
    Council looking very smart also, very proud they see what this development will do for Sm positively

    The community is hearing about it inow, and are ready to support

  14. Given the huge quantities of pesticides & herbicides used on golf courses I personally don’t care if they water it with distilled water.

  15. Only portions of 3 holes of the 18 hole golf course sit over the EA recharge zone. Did you know that? Also, there is no tax burden to the citizens of San Marcos with the TIRZ. 100% of the tax burden is bore by the folks that buy in the development.

    And just for the record so that folks don’t start saying I support this just so I too can make a quick buck…I do not build in this type of subdivision. There will be very few lots available to local custom home builders and I DO NOT buy lots to build on so there is no financial gain in this for me. I will most likely never build one single home in this community.

    I am not thrilled with the fact that Carma will be bringing in a large out of town home builder to build out this subdivision but unfortunately, that is they way things are going in my industry. They days of the developer that is willing to spend millions to develop a subdivision and then sit on the lots, making them available to individual buyers is a thing of the past, I am afraid. With all the regulations and costs associated with developing, in order to price the lots at a price point that is even remotely affordable, you have to depend on volume and the only way you get volume is to bring in a large corporate builder that can speculate on a lot of houses at one time. I don’t have the capital to do that and frankly, don’t even want to go there. I prefer to stay with the low volume, very high quality, resource efficient home.

  16. only portions of 3 holes sit over the recharge zone and only the people buying land pay the tirz tax back. Not citizens in the community.

    Thanks again CS

  17. Curtis, depending on the structure of the TIRZ, there could be a burden on the rest of us. If the development fills up, there will be expenditures by the city to service that population. If 100% of the tax increment goes to the TIRZ, that leaves nothing to cover anything else.

    I believe that Hays County committed 50% to the Blanco Vista TIRZ, whereas San Marcos committed 100%. The former seems to make more sense, and I believe it is more common.

  18. Plus, why should we give money to the big out-of-town builders, when we have good local builders who don’t get any economic incentives from taxpayers when they build their homes. It seems like the big out-of-town builders have plenty of financial capital without them having to also bring their hat in hand for San Marcos taxpayers to help fund their development.

  19. Steve, you know as well as I do that San Marcos taxpayers are not helping fund Paso Robles!

    The big problem the we have in the town is the lack of places to build. Therein lies the catch 22. It is too expensive to develop a small subdivision due to the huge amounts of regulation and cost associated with these regulations. Therefore, the small guy who wants to buy 30 acres and make a nice little subdivision is just not feasible. I know from firsthand experience. About 15 years ago, we bought the land I currently live on with the intention of building a nice little subdivision. We went as far as to get a preliminary plat approved and then abandoned the idea due to cost. I was going to have $500,000 tied up in the project when it was all said and done. I was going to have 20 1 acre lots which at the time, would sell for $30k each. That is a gross of $600,000 with a gross profit of $100k if all lots sold at the premium price. $100k on a $500k investment with such risk is just not worth it. It may have taken years to sell all of the lots. Now, if I had developed that subdivision and just sold all of the lots at one time to a large out of town builder, then it may have made sense. Remember, this was all 15 years ago and we have added a LOT of additional regulations and cost burdens on developers since then.

    Now, the only way to feasibly develop a piece of land is to buy a large chunk, such as what Carma has done, and develop with intentions to sell to large builders. It is sad, but that is just the way it is.

    And Ted, the TIRZ is proposed to be capped at less than 100% of the net increment going to repayment. I don’t remember the exact number off the top of my head but that is a question that was specifically asked.

  20. Thanks for the information, although until the TIRZ is finalized, the details are subject to change. Also, I don’t know what percent makes sense, to cover the city’s needs. Is it a 50/50 split? 70/30? I have no idea. I would hope that someone from the city is calculating the potential impact of that kind of population surge. The Blanco Vista TIRZ would seem to indicate that perhaps they are not.

  21. Also, Steve, think about this whole thing for a moment…how can the city GIVE something to a developer when they do not even have it to give? In other words, using very simply numbers just for demonstrations, if you start out with $100 per year in taxes and the land never gets developed, you will continue to receive $100 per year in taxes for eternity, (of course allow for tax increases, etc) Now take that piece of land and develop it. Assume, just for simplicity sake as mentioned above, that it’s net tax is now $500 per year but you agree to let the development occur with the developer paying for the stuff you are expected to pay for, you just have to pay him back out of that net “profit” of $400 per year. In your agreement with him, you both have agreed that only $325 of the net “profit” of $400 goes to pay him back. That still leaves you with your original $100 per year before development, PLUS an additional $75. Once the terms of your agreement are over in 15 years, you get to keep the entire $500 PLUS you have a complete system of infrastructure improvements that are 100% paid for and ready for other use.

  22. Imagine a community of 2 people with a community fire station as the only government service. The two people split the costs for the fire station as it is a community resource. Then, a third person moves to town and makes use of the community fire station but instead of contributing, he uses the portion he would contribute to better his own property. Is it correct to say that the other two people aren’t paying that person’s burden or subsidizing his costs of living? Let’s all call the TIRZ what it is, a subsidy paid by the existing residents to future residents. Then we can have a debate as the wisdom of such a wealth-shifting vehicle. It may be the benefits of the new residents justify the subsidy, but we all have to admit it is a subsidy.

  23. Taxpayers are indeed being asked to help fund Paso Robles. The residents of Paso Robles will be paying taxes to the City of San Marcos. The TIRZ is intended to take some of that tax money. How much, we don’t know. If there is some leftover tax money after the TIRZ gets there money, we don’t know. If that remnant of tax money is enough to pay for city services, we don’t know.

    I know some people say this is money we wouldn’t have had otherwise, so it should be treated as free money. But, the reason citizens pay their tax money is for the city services they need. The TIRZ will divert those tax dollars away from the city, potentially leaving the rest of the citizens to pay for COSM services provided to Paso Robles residents, in their private gated community.

    In this instance, on this question (are taxpayers being asked to help fund Paso Robles), Curtis and I see different answers. That is OK. We see it differently. We are still fellow members of this community, and there is probably a preponderance of things Curtis and I agree on just fine. We simply happen to see this question and answer differently.

    I am not trying to mislead anybody here. Neither is Curtis. We are stating our different perspectives and interpretations of the issue. I do not believe we should provide any taxpayer money to residential developers. The P&Z Commission has voted otherwise.

    The Mayor and most of the City Council have a track record of being happy to give away taxpayer dollars to developers. Now is the time for citizens to step forward and speak their mind. Our city leaders have more than doubled our long term debt and obligations during the past five years. Our currently proposed budget still has us spending beyond our means (drawing down on general funds, for example).

    The two Public Hearings, and the subsequent City Council sessions considering Paso Robles, provide the members of this community a “final chance” to potentially influence the direction we take. I do not believe we should annex Paso Robles without knowing what the TIRZ will exactly say.

    Until the TIRZ is executed, our city leaders cannot honestly tell us the answer to these two very pertinent questions, because the answers will be spelled out in the executed TIRZ:

    (a) Is Carma borrowing the money for the TIRZ, or is the City of San Marcos borrowing the money for the TIRZ?

    (b) Are there any scenarios where the City of San Marcos would have any liability for the TIRZ money?

    All the talk and representations and suggestions in the air are just that, words in the air at this point, as it relates to these two questions. What counts is what is in writing, what counts is what is executed in the TIRZ.

    For us to annex Paso Robles, with glib pronouncements that a mutually beneficial TIRZ will be executed, is not fiscally responsible. Get the TIRZ details locked down, and then the Mayor and City Council will know just what they are being asked to approve.

  24. Curtis, that assumes that the development would not happen without the TIRZ, which may not be correct. If the development were to happen, the city would collect that tax revenue and figure out where it was most needed. The TIRZ locks in a percentage of that revenue for specific items, which may or may not have bubbled up to the top, otherwise.

    The trick is allocating an amount which is reasonable for those improvements and leaves enough for other high-priority items.

  25. Answer these simple questions. Can the development happen without water and sewer? No. Will the development happen without the TIRZ? Maybe, maybe not? Can Carma walk away from the land? Probably not. The situation is pretyy obvious, Carma has to have City water and wastewater to make the deal happen. They have no leverage.

  26. 148 properties listed for foreclosure in September. It’s not like the market for realestate is going great guns right now.

  27. “I do not believe we should provide any taxpayer money to residential developers. The P&Z Commission has voted otherwise.”

    Steve, This is a bit of a stretch, my friend! P&Z did not vote to provide any taxpayer money to residential developers. We do not have any authority to do such a thing. We did vote in an advisory capacity to recommend the development agreement to Council.

    The development agreement does mention that a TIRZ MAY be adopted by ordinance.. Specifically, the development agreement states: “the City may adopt an ordinance authorizing creation of the TIRZ…” Notice this quote, direct from my copy of the Development Agreement say MAY, not SHALL. All actions regarding the TIRZ are solely the responsibility of Council and we were even told at the P&Z meeting where we approved this recommendation that we were NOT voting on anything to do with the TIRZ and that is it not in our scope of authority.

  28. And BTW, Steve, I do sincerely appreciate the civil dialog we have been able to have on this! This community will work SO much better if we can all communicate with each other!

  29. right on, Curtis, as long as everyone remembers that I am always right ; )
    seriously, polarization is fixable, and this is how you do it.
    thanks to all.

  30. “this project will provide many local jobs, both in construction and ongoing maintenance.” translates to “we will be hiring day laborers.” i’m sure someone on city council has considered that.
    “This project will provide literally millions of dollars in revenue for san marcos”……..spend tens of millions+make literally millions=didn’t literally make millions

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