Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I began the week frustrated by the fact that I have a meeting each and every night, plus at least one daytime meeting three out of the five days. That's a whole lot of municipal government in action, folks. As it turns out, though, we've got a full moon right now, so thus far the meetings have been incredibly action-packed.

It all started with the Zoning Hearing Board Monday night. I was there to hear testimony on an item that ended up being continued until next month, but before that happened the Board held a hearing on a request for a variance to allow a warehouse to be converted into an artist's live/work space. The warehouse is situated in an alley in the most densely populated neighborhood of my city; the variance was to waive the requirement to provide off-street parking for two cars. In other words, granting the variance would mean that two additional vehicles would fight for the very limited parking available in the alley.

Current residents of the surrounding blocks packed the meeting. Parking, as you might guess, is an extremely emotional issue. So emotional that a fistfight almost broke out. So emotional that one resident called the Board a bunch of a-holes, screamed that the meeting was a joke, and incited his friends and neighbors to verbally abuse the Board and the applicant. Someone speaking in support of the applicant was shouted down and called "beside the point." After all that, the applicant got his variance, and will now have to live among neighbors who resent him and his car.

Last night it was on to the Recreation Board, normally a sedate, boring, and pointless-seeming hour of my time. Little did I know that football season had just ended and the recriminations just begun. The room was packed with angry coaches and parents. The issues? Trophies for pee-wee football. Trophies are unfair! Little kids love trophies! Trophies cause fights! Since the trophies were already purchased they will be distributed, but a policy will be developed for 2009. Next issue: some kids didn't get to play in every game. Parents screamed at coaches, coaches screamed back, after an hour and a half we hadn't even gotten past public comment and to the agenda, and I'd had enough and left.

Tonight should prove equally interesting. I'm attending a discussion of the creation of a BID in our downtown, which is in effect an additional property tax. If the full moon turns parking and pee-wee football into infernos of feeling, I can't imagine the effect it will have on a debate about the creation of a new tax.


J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

I'm thinking of coming down for tonight.

beths said...

Ye gods, El, this post is so-o-o much more fun than attending meetings. This week's EADC meeting and book group were downright snores compared to your adventures. Maybe Thurs.'s Sullivan-Park-into-wetlands meeting will afford a shouting match? I'm sure Feminist Research Group won't. I do hate meetings, but I love to socialize and argue.