The Odessa City Council approved allocating $5 million for the funding of projects geared toward addressing the ongoing housing shortage in the city, without yet addressing the possible structure of how those funds will be used.
Council members voted 6-0 on the allocation after changing the motion, which was originally proposed by the Odessa Development Corporation to both allocate the money and support the creation of the coalition Housing Odessa Workers, which aims to bring together several local groups to address affordable housing. District 4 Council Member Tom Sprawls was out of town.
“They weren’t ready today to figure out the structure of bringing all those groups in town together,” Interim City Attorney Gary Landers said. “They’re just saying they don’t know what that structure is yet.”
For the $5 million that was allocated, previously intended for the failed Summit power plant project, it will still be set aside for projects related to addressing housing, and will go through the same approval process as all ODC projects–from the ODC compliance committee, to the ODC board, to the City Council.
“I appreciate so much the attention and the energy that has been given towards the needs for housing within our community,” District 2 Council Member Dewey Bryant said. “I do however think that ODC’s function is to manage and watch over funds that are devoted to that division.”
Odessan Marcia Cleaver gave public comments to the Council about housing, telling them she was delighted at the discussion that has been happening surrounding the issue.
“I believe it important that our sense of urgency not be confined in the creation of boxes small or large that we all call homes,” Cleaver said. “Like oil and gas shapes the region’s identity as an industry and energy leader, housing informs community identity and culture. Homes aren’t just places for humans to eat and sleep, they are the very foundation of happy, healthy families, neighborhoods and communities.”
Former City Council Member Mike Gardner also spoke about the issue, but said he didn’t consider the housing shortage to be a crisis, as some call it, but just a part of life. Gardner said he didn’t feel like his tax money should go to putting something up for a special interest group.
“ I understand that we’ve got problems there but the solution to the problem is let’s enable our builders, give them the tools they need. Let’s furnish sewer and water lines and those basic needs,” Gardner said.
Gardner spoke further during the public comment period at the end of the meeting against an idea by Mayor David Turner to put up temporary housing on drill sites. Gardner told the Council he lived in between four drill sites himself.
“It ends up being at some point in time we have to bulldoze because it becomes blighted,” Gardner said about the proposed housing. “I can take you to parts in town that are that way right now. We’ll end up with the same thing.”
Gardner told the Council that if they do want to go through with the idea, they need to put signs up in any neighborhood they are looking at that they are considering putting temporary housing there, and let the residents there speak about it.
At-Large Council Member Peggy Dean said it was great to have the public commenting on the issue, and reminded them that ODC funds come from 0.25% of the city’s monthly sales tax revenue, and that the money was very restrictive in how it could be used.
District 1 Council Member Malcolm Hamilton said he encouraged ODC Chairwoman Betsy Triplett-Hurt to have ODC set uniformity and be consistent with home developers, and educate them on what the city needs.
Triplett-Hurt thanked the Council for approving the fund allocation.
“We will seek out projects that will help bring housing in as quickly as possible and thank you for listening to us,” Triplett-Hurt told the Council.
The Council also unanimously approved the award of proposal for roadway reconstruction of University Boulevard between Andrews Highway and Grandview Avenue, enlisting the services of Reece Albert for $13,966,063, about $3 million more than was initially set aside for the project. This was due to the cost of the bid proposal being more than they had initially estimated when planning began four years ago.
The project will involve the reconstruction of about two miles of University Boulevard, involving new sidewalks and rebuilding traffic signals and pavement.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, THE COUNCIL APPROVED
>> City Council minutes, March 26, 2019.
>> Council Workshop minutes, April 2, 2019.
>> City Council Work Session minutes, April 2, 2019.
>> A professional services agreement with Halff Associates to update the Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Urban Landscapes Master Plan for $194,500.
>> A request by Gladieux Trading & Marketing Co. LP, owner, and LCA, agent, for original zoning of Light Industrial (LI) on an approximately 4.7 acre tract in Section 32, Block 42, T-2-S, T&P RR Co. Survey, Ector County, Texas (southwest of the intersection of Maurice Road and South County Road West) (Ordinance – Second and Final Approval).
>> Amendments of the City of Odessa Zoning Ordinance. (Ordinance – Second and Final Approval).
>> A resolution to install a traffic signal.
>> Authorizing the abandonment of 34th Street right-of-way.
>> Approved the request of DFA LLC (Robert Russell), owner, Landgraf, Crutcher & Assoc., agent, for original zoning of Light Industrial (LI) on an approximately 4.25 acre tract in Section 25, Block 42, T-2-S, T&P Ry. Co. Survey, Ector County, Texas (northeast corner of the intersection of Reed Avenue and Pearl Avenue) (Ordinance — First Approval).