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Archive for Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lawrence City Commission agenda for Feb. 1

City to look at health of retail

January 30, 2011

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Bottom line

City commissioners will receive a report from the city’s Retail Task Force.

Background

The city-created task force studied for more than a year how the health of the community’s retail industry could be improved.

The report includes a recommendation to create a database that local retailers could access to learn more about the Lawrence market and what type of sales are being lost to other communities. As part of receiving the report, commissioners will consider issuing a request for proposals for consultants to develop such a database.

At 4 p.m., City Commission will meet in a study session with Douglas County Commission to discuss:

• Two proposed amendments to Horizon 2020, the city’s comprehensive plan. One is to include a chapter on environment, while the other would include the Northeast Sector Plan.

• Recognition of “Go Red for Women” campaign.

After a short break, the City Commission’s regular meeting will begin about 6:35 p.m.

Other business

Consent agenda

• Approve commission meeting minutes of Dec. 14 and Jan. 4.

• Receive minutes from various boards and commissions.

• Pay claims.

• Approve licenses recommended by the city clerk’s office.

• Approve appointments recommended by the mayor.

• Bid and purchase items:

a. Set a Feb. 15 bid date for the microsurfacing program.

b. Set a March 1 bid date for airport area sanitary sewer improvements.

c. Award a construction contract for $114,000 to Shelley Electric Inc. for North Final Electrical and Kaw Well Field Electrical Improvements.

• Adopt ordinances on final reading that:

a. Rezone 51.13 acres at the southwest corner of North 1800 Road (the Farmers’ Turnpike) and East 1000 Road (Queens Road, Extended).

b. Amend the city’s Land Development Code related to Boarding House parking standards and their ability to exist by right in certain zoning districts.

• Authorize the mayor to sign an order vacating Perry Street, west of North Seventh Street, in Smith’s Subdivision of North Lawrence.

• Accept transfer of ownership from Kansas University to the city of a manhole and about 341 feet of sanitary sewer in the right of way of 15th Street, west of Naismith Drive.

• Authorize the mayor to execute an addendum to the city manager’s employment contract.

• Authorize issuance of a request for proposals for the Arts Economy Study requested by the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission.

• Authorize the mayor to sign a letter opposing a House bill that, if approved, would prohibit municipalities’ abilities to determine appropriate residential fire protection systems and is contrary to cities’ constitutional home rule authority.

Regular agenda

• Consider adopting on first reading an ordinance authorizing issuance of up to $10.5 million in Industrial Revenue Bonds for Lawrence Memorial Hospital to finance various improvements at the hospital.

• Consider authorizing the city manager to execute an engineering services agreement for $394,170 with Bartlett & West Engineers for design services for Iowa Street reconstruction and geometric improvements.

• Receive final report from the Retail Task Force and consider issuing a request for proposals for the retail database information, as recommended by the Retail Task Force.

• Receive staff memorandum discussing possible annexation of the Miller/Wells acres area. Consider authorizing staff to conduct a public meeting with area residents and property owners.

Comments

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

• Adopt ordinances on final reading that:

a. Rezone 51.13 acres at the southwest corner of North 1800 Road (the Farmers’ Turnpike) and East 1000 Road (Queens Road, Extended).

How much is this going to cost taxpayers? Expansion/Annexation of the responsibilities does not come free.

b. Amend the city’s Land Development Code related to Boarding House parking standards and their ability to exist by right in certain zoning districts.

  1. How will this impact on street parking spaces in the neighborhoods no matter where these 14 - 80 bedroom structures are built?

  2. One parking space per bedroom is not part of the deal. All neighborhoods can become victims. Oread is merely the first victim.

Receive staff memorandum discussing possible annexation of the Miller/Wells acres area. Consider authorizing staff to conduct a public meeting with area residents and property owners.

Annexation is not free to taxpayers. Always missing from the discussion is how much will this cost taxpayers. Powers that be always love to tell taxpayers that annexation is expanding the tax base.

Over the past 25 years Lawrence has expanded the tax base many times yet our user fees(taxes) and other taxes keep going up! Isn't there somethng wrong with this picture? Could it be that annexation is neither paying for itself nor paying back the taxpayers?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

One big issue usually missing from city commission discussions is how much will any project be costing Lawrence or Douglas County taxpayers.

New housing projects cost taxpayers money - If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch some think. With increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential does not pay for the services they require from a municipality.

New retail in Lawrence cost taxpayers money. Because Lawrence is over built retail cannot possibly generate its' fair share of taxes to pay for itself or pay back taxpayers for the over extended tax dollar liabilities related to any project.

Why Lawrence powers that be think Lawrence can become the shopping metropolis that challenges KCMO metro,JOCO Metro and Topeka Metro is beyond logic. Where is the hard evidence? kcmo/joco metro has close to 2 million people if not more. The retail dollars are not available in Lawrence,Kansas and cost for real estate is inflated aka living an illusion.

Is it the taxpayers responsibility to guarantee the real estate industry and developers a nice tidy profit on their speculation and/or risky investments? absolutely not!

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

Is annexation expanding our tax base or our tax bills?

There is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - annexation is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes. Over building is killing our local economy.

Annexation is the result of over many decades of subsidies paid for by the American taxpayer. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads as well as smaller ones-like the tax-breaks that encourage businesses to move to the edge of town.

We've subsidized annexation at such a basic level for so long, that many people believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of developers and the local real estate industry.

How we subsidize annexation:

  • building new and wider roads
  • building schools on the fringe
  • extending sewer and water lines to new developments
  • extending emergency services to the fringe
  • direct pay-outs to developers

Is it the taxpayers responsibility to guarantee the real estate industry and developers a nice tidy profit on their speculation and/or risky investments? absolutely not!

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

America Is Over Stored ( Do Lawrence,Kansas planners and city government not realize this?)

The Wall Street bankers boom town economics building frenzy produced a bumper crop of new retail space. But the occupants haven't materialized.

The carnage in retail hasn't been this bad since an anarchist bombed Chicago's Haymarket Square in 1886. In January, Liz Claiborne said it would shutter 54 Sigrid Olsen stores by mid-2008; Ann Taylor announced that 117 of its 921 stores would be closed over the next three years, and Talbots axed the Talbots Men's and Talbots Kids concepts and 22 Talbots stores. (Those muffled screams you hear are Connecticut preppies trying to suppress their rage.) Even Starbucks has scaled back its yearlong saturation-bombing campaign.

Blame that exhausted marathon runner, the American consumer. Fueled by cheap credit instead of PowerGel, she looked great at Mile 16, but bonked at Mile 23 and is now crawling to the finish line. Sales fell in December, putting the cap on a miserable Christmas season. Last week the government reported that retail sales rose 3.9 percent between January 2007 and January 2008.

But back out inflation and sales of gasoline, and retail sales fell in real terms in the past year. Clearly, demand is down.

And supply is up. This decade's building frenzy produced a bumper crop of new retail space—from McStrip malls built near new McMansions, to hip new boutiques in the ground floors of hip new Miami condo buildings. But as is the case with those McMansions and condos, the occupants for new retail space haven't materialized.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, the national retail-vacancy rate rose for the 11th straight quarter to 7.5 percent—the highest level since 1996, according to research firm Reis, Inc.

With new projects coming online—34 million square feet of retail space will be completed in 2008—the rate is expected to spike further to 8 percent. In the parlance of the trade, many chains are simply over-stored.

Con't http://www.newsweek.com/id/112762

In essence the retail dollars are simply NOT available. Why does Lawrence,Kansas not understand that without the necessary supply of retail dollars new retail will simply become a liability to local taxpayers? As a taxpayer I do not want to be responsible for reckless city management.

Are there tools available to city government officials to prevent mismanagement? Absolutely. Why aren't these tools being implemented? Good question!

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

From: Kirk McClure

Education Ph. D., City Planning, University of California, Berkeley, Department of City and Regional Planning, 1985. Concentrations in Housing Economics and Public Finance.

Master in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 1978. Specialization in Housing Policy Analysis.

Bachelor of Arts, University of Kansas, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1974. Special Major in Urban Studies.

Bachelor of Architecture, Graduated With Distinction University of Kansas, School of Architecture and Urban Design, 1973.

Basic findings:

  1. Lawrence is overbuilt in housing: Homes were built faster than population growth supporting these homes. Excessive subdivisions caused an out migration from older neighborhoods causing a severe loss of value, a loss of dwelling units, and a variety of other problems such as school closings.

  2. Lawrence is overbuilt in retail: Stores were built faster than retail spending growth supporting these stores. This excessive growth has hurt the public and private investment in downtown redevelopment (e.g.: the empty $8 million parking garage, the empty Hobbs-Taylor space, etc.) and has caused deterioration and blight in existing shopping centers (e.g.: Tanger Mall, etc.)

  3. Douglas County is overbuilt in manufacturing and warehousing; employment in these sectors is declining, not growing. Yet, the Chamber calls for more and more space in the false belief that more supply creates more demand.

  4. Office space in Douglas County is relatively well balanced, but the market for office space is severely crippled by the excessive supply of unused retail space which is competing for office tenants.

Basic strategy:

Lawrence should adopt a policy of "cooling off" the pace of development. Note: This is not a moratorium; it is a consicous effort to redirect growth to existing neighborhoods and districts where it can be beneficial.

Housing: The city should stop approving new subdivisions until the existing supply of surplus homes is eliminated. It should direct housing investment back into older neighborhoods so as to preserve and protect the existing public and private investment there.

Commercial space: The city should stop approving plans for new commercial space until the existing surplus is eliminated. It should direct investment into the preservation of the downtown and other existing commercial districts so as to preserve and protect the existing public and private investment there.

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