Monday, July 03, 2006

Jinxing myself....

Well, things have been looking up this week. Last week was an absolute disaster. I wrote two articles for the Star and racked up tons of cell phone minutes getting interviews and quotes. After an tense encounter with one interviewee and hours of research and writing, my editor told me she was going to cut one of the articles. I wasn't getting paid a ton to begin with, so I was pretty down in the dumps about it. It didn't help that things weren't going with the other jobs. No one was calling me back or returning my emails, and everything was slow.

I'm patient with people (mainly my husband) but I'm not patient with waiting. Especially with businesses taking their sweet time. It's driving me nuts that I don't have a job. After a few days, it feels like my head is in a fog and I can't do anything right. Like right now I've just been writing cover letters and getting stuff ready, since in a few days I'm switching my phone number to a local number to combat the phone bills I keep racking up.

My poor husband has been supportive about it, but I can tell he's frustrated. I want to get a job so badly, just so we don't have to be worried about money. I want to be able to contribute something financially. Then I start to wonder if these internet jobs will work out, or if they are just a huge scam.....

Then I start feeling desperate, wondering if I can throw myself into teaching just to get a job. I had this whole debate about teaching. I worry it'll take a lot of time from my writing, and I won't enjoy it. Since so many people hate teaching after a few years, I worry I will too. I also worry I'll get fired mouthing off to administration. I'm not very good with being told what to do.

So last week I was low. This week, things are looking up. I had a front page story published Friday at the Star, so that was really exciting. You can see it here:

"City Council Approves New PUD"
The Boerne City Council approved the PUD for 405 acres near the 138 1H-10 East access road (Jenning Anderson Ford’s old location) and Boerne Heights with a 3-2 vote. Council members Rob Ziegler and Judy Edmondson voted against the Standard Pacific Homes Development, voicing concerns of creating a predecessor for future subdivision development and the affect on the city’s infrastructure.

The PUD was tabled last week due to concerns of locations of open spaces. The PUD will contain a total of 954 homes and 29,950 feet of a nature trail and open space.

Several citizens voiced concerns during the meeting regarding the effect the PUD would have on Boerne’s infrastructure, particularly increasing traffic and school populations. Citizens were also concerned about hurting Boerne’s aesthetic image by allowing “cookie cutter” subdivisions to develop. Speakers asked for traffic studies to be done by professional companies before approving development in future cases in order to have an idea of how the developments would affect traffic.

Mark Mason, a speaker at the meeting, asked for a checklist to be developed for future developers that specified the type of design, amount of green space and specific aesthetic qualities to avoid “losing Hill Country charm.” He asked the city to use the checklist as a future tool for decision making.

“If you’re sitting at dinner with French fries, do you have to ask for ketchup?,” Mason said. “Do you have to expect to ask for what you want? I believe developers who truly want to develop welcome attention and guidance.”

Paula Cairns, who also spoke during the meeting, suggested that Boerne could develop a point system checklist that cities such as Austin and Houston use. In this checklist, developers would see the city’s standards for aspects such as land around schools, open space and number of homes per acre. They would then get extra ‘points’ for exceeding requirements as a reward. Cairns also spoke for the importance of traffic studies, citing that larger cities require traffic studies for developments with as few as 150 homes, as each home can add 10 extra trips a day on the roads.

“We need to have a comprehensive master plan to plan all this growth wisely,” Cairns said. “We don’t want to look like suburban San Antonio; we want to look like the Hill Country. We don’t want piano key development. My point that I was trying to make it’s not so much a problem the way the PUD is designed, as much as is our infrastructure ready for a PUD that size.”

Councilman Rob Ziegler agreed with the citizen’s concerns, voicing his opinion against the development of the PUD. Ziegler stated that the addition of nearly 1000 new homes and possibly 2500 more people, a third of the Boerne population, could greatly affect the infrastructure more than previously expected.

“Without traffic studies, we don’t know the impact,” Ziegler said. “I want to see traffic studies. I want the police chief to say it’s ok, I want the fire chief to say it’s ok…I want everyone to know what kind of impact this will have on infrastructure. We have to stop and look at the big picture, just not this development. This is all going to happen together, [and] this is all going to happen at the same time.”

Councilman Bob Manning argued for the approval of the PUD based on the fact that the zoning was already approved. He stated that while traffic studies and checklists would be helpful to future development, he believes the PUD at Boerne Heights is a healthy development for Boerne’s community.

“The horse is out of the barn,” Manning said. “Our ability to affect its outcome is very limited. The builders can show up in the morning and build an 880 home division and build a space with no green space, etc. I simply think this particular process of land is too far in the process. The proposal brought to us was to create a different kind of neighborhood in Boerne that I feel we desperately need. It will protect some of the more sensitive green spaces and open spaces and not pave over them.”

Mayor Patrick Heath stated that the development was a more complicated picture simply voting for or against development. He believes that the traffic and schools are also affected by cities and areas outside of Boerne, such as Fair Oaks. Heath believes without taking those areas into consideration, the city would be left with a skewed perception.

“I think it’s a complicated picture,” Heath said. “I think sometimes we forget not all the traffic in Boerne is from the citizens of Boerne. If we’re going to talk about opportunities and responsibilities, we have to talk about all of us, not just the citizens of historic Boerne.”

The council hopes to begin discussions of creating a checklist for future developers and look into traffic studies in the next few months. Citizens hope that the ideas will not be forgotten simply because the development has been approved.

“[It all leads to the question] Should the government care about the city’s appearance [and] care about historic, open spaces?” Mason said. “Plan before build[ing] [and] please pass the ketchup.”

What was embarrassing was one of the councilman called me and mentioned it to me. I had no idea. It's invigorating to see your name in print and get complimented on your work, no matter how many hassles it caused.

I'm going to keep on chugging on job letters and queries, seeing what I can get published. Hopefully this week will be much better! I'll write an amusing post soon. I'm going to write a few articles for lazy, and I'll post what I write.

Please feel free to comment! I love it when my imaginary friends respond!