EDITORíS DESK: Midland stands in its own line
Mayor Lionel Rivera appeared briefly flummoxed during the City Council meeting Oct. 11. As a standard procedure, he
had just instructed the people who were in favor of a development plan - Affordable Plumbing in the Midland area - to line up to
take their turns to speak.
As the line kept growing, the mayor evidently felt compelled to inquire if the people knew what they were doing. "I just want to make this clear," he said. "Those of you lining up are supporting the applicant, right?"
His question was not completely off the wall. From my own newspaper experience, sitting through hundreds of government meetings over the years, this is the first time I've ever seen a neighborhood overwhelmingly support a commercial use in their midst. The normal reaction, as Rivera certainly has experienced, is just the opposite: an outraged, NIMBY struggle to ensure that residential areas remain sacrosanct.
Just before the vote, in which council overturned Planning Commission's denial of Affordable's variance request, Councilman Tom Gallagher made a short speech to the effect that the issue exemplified Midland's historically unplanned yet "neat" mixed-use style, dating back to a time before covenants existed. There is truth in that image - the area is a great example of how residential and commercial uses can co-exist and even support each other - although it's also true that chaos and strife loom if all regulation is thrown to the winds.
But in the end, I think, the real key for Affordable's owners was having a good plan for a traditionally commercial building and convincing the residents they were sincere. Why did the residents listen? Hey, nobody tells Midlanders what line to stand in.