Sunday, January 11, 2009

More on Protest Petitions

Suddenly the Protest Petition is everywhere. The Greensboro Neighborhood Congress discussed it at its monthly meeting yesterday; N&R editor Allen Johnson (sort of) endorsed it in today's paper; and the League of Women Voters will hear about it on Tuesday (and you're invited, too).

On January 21st, the Greensboro City Council will decide whether to endorse the Protest Petition process, and ask the North Carolina legislature to reinstate it for Greensboro -- the only city in North Carolina that doesn't have it.

Over the past year I've changed my mind on this issue. I used to think -- as the real estate industry does -- that the petition puts too much power in the hands of too few people. How can it be fair for a mere 5% of surrounding property owners to mandate that a proposed rezoning must pass with a three-quarter majority vote?

In fact, it wouldn't be fair,
  • if the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition (TREBIC) didn't have a full-time lobbying staff whose job is to influence real estate law at every level, from the writing of the ordinance to the final appeal before the City Council,
  • if the real estate industry didn't have the cash to hire the smoothest real estate lawyers in town to argue their cases before boards and City Council,
  • if TREBIC hadn't placed so many of their representatives on the Planning board, Zoning Board, Board of Adjustment, and Citizens Advisory Team that worked to rewrite the city's development ordinance,
  • if TREBIC didn't hold an annual shindig to schmooze with elected officials, 
  • if the real estate industry wasn't one of the biggest contributors to City Council elections, and
  • if three members of the Greensobo City Council weren't in the real estate/development industry.
So let me turn that "fairness" question back on TREBIC: how can it be fair for one industry to have such lopsided influence over Greensboro public policy?

The Protest Petition would help restore the balance of power between neighborhoods and the real estate industry. I'm for it.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

i tried to post before but it must not have gone through. Thanks for this post and you opinion on this issue.