Sam Merten

Why the Council Isn't Voting on Ross and Industrial Name Changes Today

To our surprise, the city council will not be voting this morning on two items related to the now national story of renaming a street for Cesar Chavez. Previously thought to be under consideration: a vote to rename Ross Avenue “Cesar Chavez Boulevard” and another to rename Industrial Boulevard “Riverfront Boulevard.”

Theresa O’Donnell, director of development services, says the items didn’t make today’s agenda because of the confusing nature of the process and a request to delay the votes by council member Angela Hunt, who asked Dave Neumann, chair of the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee, to wait until she’s back from Europe since Ross Avenue is in her district.

O’Donnell says land-use attorneys were consulted because of the unique way the name change was initiated. Rather than a property owner or group of property owners filing the appropriate paperwork with the city, as we all know by now, the council’s Trinity River Corridor Project Committee jump-started both name changes. Additionally, both were killed in the plan commission, which added to the confusion because the procedure usually calls for a 10-day waiting period for an appeal, which didn’t happen because of the way the request was handled. Since the “code is silent” regarding such issues, O’Donnell says there were “internal discussions” about what needed to be done.

“So, a little bit of confusion and a little bit of accommodating Ms. Hunt’s calendar kind of made it to where we weren’t ready,” O’Donnell tells Unfair Park.

O’Donnell says her department handles approximately six to 10 street name changes per year, which are usually initiated by property owners or council members. Although she admits the committee’s decision is rare, especially since Ross Avenue has nothing to do with the Trinity River Project, O’Donnell disagrees with the notion that the committee overstepped its authority.

“I take much more comfort in the idea that a committee has had open discussions, public discussions and dialog about the possibility of doing something as opposed to a single council member acting unilaterally,” she says.

Both items will hit the agenda on November 10, a rare Monday council meeting, and they will require a supermajority (three-fourths) for approval because of the denials by the plan commission. This means that four votes against either item will kill it, and three votes could be enough if somehow fewer than 12 council members are present at the time of the vote, although this scenario is unlikely. --Sam Merten

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