I didn’t take any notes on Thursday evening during the public hearing dealing with the contentious Bove project, a building complex proposed for the site of a downtown parking lot. I was too busy taking images with my compact digital camera.
But I did try to keep track of what was going on, especially when a citizen walked up to the microphone and voiced an opinion. I didn’t note everyone’s name, but I do remember the gist of the arguments.
As part of the Bove project, apartments would be provided to low-income working families. Some argued that the site under consideration isn’t an ideal place to raise children, especially with the bar scene at night with overactive college students (see previous post).
One person involved with a local organization dealing with such low income families – a bearded guy wearing glasses and a tweed sports jacket – took the podium and stated that he hoped that some people against the project weren’t speaking in “code.”
Gee, what “code” is that? Morse code?
I knew what he was saying. And, yes, probably there were a couple of people at the hearing there were prejudiced against low-income renters, afraid of a stupid stereotype that didn’t apply. Well, there’s plenty of low-income renters already downtown, so stopping one building project won’t make a difference. The Bove project won’t unleash hordes of parasitic stereotypes that will turn downtown into a slum. Some streets – like Clinton Street – are already sliding down. There are photos on this blog to prove that point.
What I hate is when someone, either pro or con, left or right, clouds an issue with push button words like “code.” I’m against the Bove project not because of low-income renters; the city would be better served leaving the parking lot alone. The malls outside the city have been kicking downtown’s sorry ass for decades, partly because they offer free parking in large, convenient lots. People like convenience and most would choose a parking lot over a spot on the street, especially when the downtown streets have been narrowed to build wide – and empty – sidewalks. It’s a tight squeeze getting in and out some of the spots. (Another brilliant mistake by the city.)
I do agree there is a need for low income housing for families just scraping by with minimum wages. But such housing could be located elsewhere.
No, I’m not speaking in “code.” I hate it when sometime plays the code card. I’m just getting by on a fixed income. I’ve never been in any upper – or even middle - income bracket during my life. I know what’s it’s like to face prejudice when someone finds out you’re not making a “good wage” or that you’re not working, i.e., you’re not “normal.”
One time I had a seasonal job, being laid off for the winter. I happened to see someone I knew from college one day at the mall. From what I had gathered about her, she came from a well-off family. She asked me what I was doing. I told her that I was unemployed at the moment. She literally shrank back from me, terrified of catching low-income leprosy.
That’s one end of the spectrum. On the other end is someone supposedly speaking on my behalf who resorts to “code words.” Let’s keep the talk plain and simple.