Lubbock City Council Changes Rules for Citizens Comments; Approves Zoning Change for Historic Downtown Building
Thursday evening, the Lubbock City Council held their final regularly scheduled meeting for the month of January.
The council unanimously approved two agenda items that piqued some interest during the week.
The first item was to change the zoning for the Myrick-Green Building in downtown Lubbock. The Myrick-Green Building was the first multi-story office building constructed in the City of Lubbock and it was completed in 1928. The building was recently purchased by the Reagor Dykes Auto Group and it will house new offices for the company. The zoning for the building was changed to CB-2 Design Historic, which gives the building a local Historic Building designation.
District 2 Councilman Floyd Price was pleased to see a Lubbock landmark preserved, "I am looking at the proposed exterior elevation for this building.... this is amazing. I'm just so excited about what (Reagor Dykes Auto Group) is doing. This is putting a face on Downtown Revitalization in Lubbock," Price said.
The second unanimously approved agenda item was the rejection of an electric rate increase for Xcel Energy's Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS) in Lubbock.
The council then took up the issue of the rules and procedures for Citizen Comments, and the televising of Citizen Comments. Mayor Glen Robertson made a recommendation on rule changes for the ordinance, which the council worked off of and eventually voted into effect.
District 1 Councilman Victor Hernandez, who in the past has been subjected to personal attacks by citizens speaking during Citizen Comments, was the most vocal opponent to changing the ordinance. Hernandez spoke in two separate instances, summing up his thoughts by stating, "I really do believe the best solution is leave it alone. Just leave it alone; deal with it (personal attacks) on a case-by-case basis. Deal with it with the gavel, (Mayor's power to keep a citizen's comments on topic) because it's not going to go away with these... changes. In fact, it's just going to create an additional firestorm."
After discussion amongst the council members ended, Mayor Robertson took the unprecedented step of allowing citizens who had been vocal about Citizen Comments an additional chance to address the council.
Maurice Stanley, who is running for District 3 in May, was supportive of the changes, "I'm of the opinion that when we come down here to speak, it should deal with items that have to do with city business."
Bill Curnow sided with Councilman Hernandez, "If I were in your shoes I would vote for the proposal as it's been amended. Councilman Hernandez is absolutely correct it will not solve the problem, but it helps address it. That gavel will do more to solve the problem in the future than anything else you do tonight."
After the comments concluded, Mayor Robertson outlined the new Citizens Comments ordinance before the vote was taken, "A citizen may sign up 75 hours in advance to the meeting and speak on any topic the citizen lists, including any agenda items.
"If a citizen signs up the night of the meeting to speak on an agenda item, they will be placed with the first set of people that signed up for Citizen Comments before the 75 hour deadline." The first portion of Citizen Comments would be televised on City News Channel 2, as has been previously done.
Mayor Robertson continued, "There will be no overall time limit. However, if a person signs up (to speak) the night of a council meeting on an item that is not on the agenda, the person will speak at the end of the meeting in a separate Citizen Comments that will be televised (on City News Channel 2) with a disclaimer."
The new Citizen Comments ordinance was approved 5-2, with councilmen Todd Klein and Victor Hernandez dissenting.