A few weeks ago, a ballot was distributed to property owners “Behind the Pink Wall” seeking to quantify resident feelings for or against the proposed, scaled-down Transwestern building proposed for the northeast corner of Preston Road and Northwest Highway.
Well, get ready: the results were provided last week. At first glance, the tallies from the vote seem to be a majority of “no.” After all, the results were 179 votes “for” the latest proposal by Transwestern and 183 “against.” But here’s why that’s a facile determination: there were 27 neutrals, and 746 just didn’t care enough to even vote.
We are talking about a difference of FOUR votes, which is kind of a toss-up. Neither side really gets an overwhelming mandate to act.
But those “neutral” options may be more pro than nay. Since the ballot also included a “neutral” option, I think it’s fair to say that the 27 who voted “neutral” can be counted as more positive than negative. After all, when you don’t care one way or the other, they might as well go ahead and build. Right? When someone does or doesn’t want to do something and asks your opinion and your reply is “I don’t care, do whatever you want,” they generally do what they wanted to do in the first place.
I was one of the “neutral” votes. Hold a gun to my head, I would have been a yes. (As would Candy — so there, 2 more “yes votes”.) I think there are more positives than negatives about the project, but if it doesn’t get built at all, I won’t lose any sleep. I suppose you could argue there are those “neutrals” who are leaning more negative, but still consider themselves neutral, but I suspect those neutrals are leaning to the positive side of the boat. I know when I think something has more negatives, I’m more apt to vote “no” on the side of caution.
BUT the biggest wrinkle in the balloting?? Those who didn’t vote at all. The ultimate in apathy, out of a possible 1,135 votes/condos, 746 didn’t vote at all. That’s a whopping 66-percent. Out of 37 complexes, 11 cast no votes at all. Now you can think about state and federal elections and figure this level of voting isn’t unusual. But in those elections, a voter has to register, apply to vote absentee or get in the car, drive to a polling place and cast your vote before driving home – maybe it’s raining — and get the eventual jury duty “thank you.” There’s a level of personal commitment to vote.
And yet, in this vote, 66-percent of people who live spitting distance from the proposed new development couldn’t be bothered. These voters also didn’t have to brave the elements to vote or risk an HOA version of jury duty. Ballots were literally slid under doors or popped in mailboxes. All you had to do was pick it up in the comfort of your own home. And yet 66-percent couldn’t grasp a pen and check one of three boxes. Also consider the age of Pink Wall residents. It’s well known that older people vote more than younger people; but not here. That’s how little 746 care about what Transwestern wants to do on the corner.
Another thing to consider is in typical elections, one person gets one vote. But in this balloting, every condominium gets a vote; people who own more units get more votes. Also, people who aren’t owner-occupants get a vote too. An investor from out-of-state who owns five units that he/she hasn’t seen in years, gets five votes even though their personal impact is nil.
One complex, Park Deville cast 16 of their 17 votes “no.” A note in the voting results says they want to delay until after Jennifer Gates’ Land Use Study is complete. I find this rationale amusing. It seems to be saying that they’ll do whatever the study recommends…whether it’s nothing, 5-stories or 50-stories. And given that Park Deville boarders the proposed development, it’s really obvious that wouldn’t be the case. Oh, and keep in mind Gates’ study is still not completely funded and is likely two years away from announcing any quantifiable recommendations. Silliness.
Finally, the majority of resident-produced material about the development has been negative. From the very first “Vote NO” campaign to the most recent mailings, the “no’s” were leading the charge. These mild results are certainly more positive than I expected.
So here’s what I say to Transwestern: build baby, build.