McAllen City Commission
Monday, April 27, 2015
Parking, partying and a new hotel
From now on in McAllen, you'll have to be careful where you park.
That's overstating it but you WILL need to be careful when visiting "commercial establishments adjacent to residential neighborhoods" because, at their meeting Monday, commissioners passed an ordinance putting some places off limits for parking. You won't be able to park on a nearby street if the restaurant parking lot is full.
City Attorney Kevin Pagan explained to commissioners that the ordinance is "in response to some recent concerns about parking by (those going to ) commercial establishments in adjacent residential neighborhoods" although he didn't say what those "recent concerns" are.
The new ordinance bans parking on the street "within one-quarter mile of a major arterial street or highway," to quote the ordinance.
Pagan explained that, in talking to city staffers, including code enforcement employees, "it was our perception...that "the majority of the problems we are having with parking in residential areas is in places where they are adjacent to commercial areas and the bulk of these are near the arterials" such as, for example, North 10th Street or Trenton or Nolana. In other words, neighborhoods near bars and restaurants.
What if you live behind a popular bar or restaurant? Pagan said the city knows you need to park there, along with family and visitors.
"In terms of enforcement," Pagan explained to commissioners, "for the residents that live in those areas, we are looking at various options including (rearview mirror) hanger permits for their cars so they can easily be identified and, of course, there are exceptions, service vehicles, public events and so forth." The ordinance states that the ban wouldn't apply to City of McAllen public events for an hour before or after the event.
In response to Commissioner Trey Pebley's "operational questions," City Manager Roy Rodriguez replied that there are " a couple of areas we have problems with" and that the city has talked with the property owners and they are willing to provide permits to those who need them. "They will take it upon themselves and we will do the enforcement," he added.
The city manager said the ordinance is not because of any particular problem, but at the last commission meeting on Monday, April 13, commissioners heard complaints about bar patrons parking in nearby neighborhoods. This took place during the Public Comment portion and the city does not broadcast or record people speaking.
A man who lives near Gamehaus Gastropub at 2109 W Nolana Ave, complained about loud music and developer Joey Holand said he's "been having issues" with the establishment. Seby Haddad, one of the owners of Gamehaus, told commissioners they "plan on working" with Holand and that they have modified music levels.
Another hotel for the Convention Center?
Finally, commissioners told the city manager and city attorney to close on the sale of Lot 8 at the Convention Center "subject to the developers supplying satisfactory evidence of their ability to complete the project." Rodriguez said afterward that they just want to be sure the developer has the necessary financing arranged and he believes they will have it.
The developers have been relying on foreign investors through the government's EB-5 program, according to Rodriguez. Through the EB-5 program, foreigners who invest a lot of money in a project that will create a certain amount of jobs get visas for themselves and their families. But there is a risk the US government government won't approve a particular person for a visa, he said. So, the developers, he continued, are structuring their financing with and without EB-5 investors, he said. Lot 8 lies west and a bit south of the convention center, on Houston Ave. and north of the new La Quinta Hotel.
Way back when?
Here's part of what I wrote about this issue two years ago!
The city has been trying for years to get a hotel built at the Convention Center site at Ware Road and Expressway 83. It is in negotiations with a company aiming to erect a Cambria Suites hotel (part of Choice Hotels International) west of the Center and representatives of the company aiming to put up the hotel were on hand and pitched their idea to commissioners. Chad Hankin and Christopher A. Haridopolos described a four-story upscale hotel that would be "absolutely the largest and most grand hotel" in the area with suites up to 600 sq. ft.
The hotel, they continued, would be able to provide meeting rooms and food and beverage service that are too small to be feasible for the Convention Center but would be the "yin to the yang of the convention center." It will be a new prototype of a Cambria Suites property.
The city's delinquent tax collector reported that 2nd quarter 2015 collections were up six percent over last year and the city's tax collector reported that, for the period of 10/1/2014--3/31/2015 for current AND deliquent taxes, McAllen's adjusted tax levy was $37,829,238.10 and they collected $35,266,399.83, or a rate of 93.23%.