Pillow Talk: March Madness

by Perry Pillow, AATC's Director of Government Affairs

At times, our democratic-republic seems dysfunctional and beyond redemption. Our leaders refuse to work together; our politics overshadow our politeness, and our personal preferences supersede our common cause. Compromise is criticized. Debate is debasing. Facts are fluid.

At times, it appears our constitutional fabric is fraying, and our society is regressing further and further into tribal tendencies.

Given the current political environment, why care?  Why get involved? Why even try?   Because failure is not an option!

Over the next few months, AATC members will be full participants in our 240-year experiment in self-government.  From advocacy to voting, our industry is committed to the success of our neighborhoods and our nation.

This month, AATC leaders Nicolle Block, Candy Maxey, Jason Busboom, Sherry Jordan, Lani Grant, and Charles Stroud along with AATC staff members John Mitchell and Perry Pillow will travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in NAA’s Advocate Conference. AATC leaders will ensure that our industry’s views are heard above the noise and chaos that engulfs hyper-partisan Washington.

On your behalf, this group will meet with Tarrant County’s congressional delegation and be aggressively advocating for changes in federal laws and regulations that impact your business including reforming the HUD Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program, funding national flood insurance reauthorization, and removing barriers to new multifamily construction.

On May 4th, all AATC members have an opportunity to choose your local leaders. From potholes to police and recycling to recreation centers, city councils impact our daily lives more than any other elected entity.

When you cannot take it anymore and you wonder if getting involved in advocacy and voting is worth it, remember, democracy, as Churchill observed, is the worst form of government . . .  except for all the others.

2019 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS –Star Wars fans, if you fail to vote in this year’s municipal elections, you’ve got no excuse (may the fourth be with you). This year’s city elections are Saturday, May 4th. The entire Fort Worth City Council (including the Mayor) are up for election, as well as, the Mayor and four council seats in Arlington. More than 75 candidates are on the ballot various city council and school board races throughout Tarrant County. In Arlington, seventeen candidates have filed for four races. AATC-friend and hard-working Mayor Jeff Williams has three opponents while eleven candidates have filed for three open seats and two candidates are competing for district 3.  Arlington will have three (and possibly four) new city council members. Long-serving Arlington councilmembers Lana Wolff, Katherine Wilemon, and Michael Glaspie are not seeking re-election and first-term councilmember and former leasing consultant Roxanne Thalmann in a tough rematch with Marvin Sutton. Thalman defeated Sutton in 2017 by less than 5 votes. The front runners for the three open seats include attorney Andrew Piel in district 4; Dr. Ignacio Nunez in district 5; and Barbara Odom-Wesley and Robert Harris in district 8. District 4 and district 5 are single-member districts while district 8 is city-wide.

Not to be outdone twenty-six candidates have filed to run in Fort Worth. Incumbents Carlos Flores(district 2) and Ann Zadeh(district 9) are unopposed; however, AATC-friend Mayor Betsy Price has three challengers as do AATC-friendly district 8 incumbent Kelly Allen Gray.  Incumbents Brian Byrd, Cary Moon, Jungus Jordan, and Dennis Shingleton all have challengers and incumbent Gyna Bivens has four opponents. AATC expects all incumbents to win in Fort Worth.

Las Vegas Trail PID– AATC members are working with Fort Worth city councilmember Bryan Byrd on the revitalization of Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail (LVT) neighborhood. Big shout out to Mary Margaret Lemons with Fort Worth Housing Solutions, Cayce Coon and Nicole Starkey with Madera, Victor Huhem, and other AATC members for their efforts to help make LVT thrive. Because of their efforts, LVT area onsite managers are meeting regularly with police and others to share information and work together to ensure that their communities are safe. The next step is to bring much need capital and city service improvements to LVT. Council Byrd has asked Las Vegas Trail property owners to consider creating a public improvement district (PID) to fund infrastructure and additional city services.  PID is a defined geographical area established to provide specific types of improvements or maintenance which are financed by assessments against the property owners within the area. PIDs provide a development tool that allocates costs according to the benefits received. A PID can provide a means to fund supplemental services and improvements to meet community needs which could not otherwise be constructed or provided. An advisory board is created when the PID is created. With the establishment of an advisory body, the property owners within the PID have control over the types of improvements, level of maintenance, and amount of assessments to be levied against the property owners. Basically, a PID is an additional property tax with the revenues dedicated to a specific area at the direction of the advisory board. AATC encourages its members to thoughtfully consider authorizing the LVT PID.

ARLINGTON SHORT TERM RENTAL ORDIANCE – AATC is working with Arlington city councilmembers to address short-term rentals.  With Arlington Live, Six Flags, Globe Life Park, and AT&T stadium, Arlington is a major tourist destination. As such, short-term rentals have proliferated in neighborhoods near the entertainment district. Council is considering various policies including registration, the imposition of hotel/motel tax, and restricting STR’s to specific geographic areas. AATC is working with city officials to ensure that any ordinance does not adversely impact multifamily owners and operators. AATC’s government affairs committee recently discussed various approaches our industry is taking to address STR including prohibiting residents from subleasing their units, options for vacant units, and working with short-term rental companies.