Good morning, Kerr County!
The National Weather Service comes bearing fun news — it's going to be hot for weeks. The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center says all of Texas should see above-average temperatures in the coming weeks and minimal rainfall. We should have a warm weekend, but things look very hot next week — like 100-plus degrees hot. "Temperatures will climb from this weekend into early next week due to strengthening mid-level ridging extending from Northern Mexico into Central Texas and breezier southerly surface winds," the NWS said. "Afternoon highs will range from the upper 90s in the Hill Country to near/above 100 degrees for much of the rest of the region. Daily record high temperatures once again could be threatened."
Here's the forecast:
Here's the National Weather Service's longer-term outlook:
On today's The Lead Live!
Together With Hill Country Veterans will provide us with a preview of a June 12 event that focuses on women in the military. These are just some things to think about as we head into the conversation:
- Last week, The Washington Post reported that more than 30,000 servicemen and women had killed themselves since Sept. 11, 2001 — the military's No. 1 cause of death.
- Of those deaths, 7% were women — nearly doubling from the last count in 2010. The Post said 1 in 6 military personnel are women.
- And one of the causes of female suicides is sexual assault, a pervasive problem in the military, according to experts.
- Read that story here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/05/30/military-suicide-women-sexual-assault-ptsd/
The latest from Uvalde
- The Community Foundation of the Hill Country reported it had received a $200,000 donation to its Uvalde victims fund from the Dallas Cowboys and the National Football League Foundation. The Cowboys and the NFL made other large donations to other groups trying to help Uvalde.
- Irma and Joe Garcia were buried on Wednesday. Robb Elementary School teacher Irma Garcia was killed in the May 24 shooting, and her husband died two days later from a heart attack. San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller presided over the funeral.
- Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin announced that the City Council was sworn in on Tuesday night, including Peter Arredondo, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police chief. Arredondo is the focus of the police response at the school.
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott asked Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Dade Phelan to call a legislative session in response to the shooting deaths in Uvalde, but did not put gun control measures on the table. "As Texans mourn the tragedy that occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last week, we as a State must reassess the twin issues of school safety and mass violence," Abbott said. "As leaders, we must come together at this time to provide solutions to protect all Texans. Accordingly, I hereby request that each of you convene a special legislative committee. I look forward to working with you both on this important mission to make Texas safer, and I stand ready to provide any and all support."
- In a Kerrville angle, Gold Cup Pawn Shop owner Rachel Fitch said she would require those purchasing semi-automatic rifles at her two pawnshops to be 21 years old. "We're just across the board on this," she said. "I'm just not going to be; I don't want to be the guy that sold the guns. And so, being 21 is my is the line and I know that there's a lot of even you know you know, there's a lot of, there's a lot of sides."
Today's newsletter is sponsored by
- Kerrville City Council and planning and zoning commission, Kerrville City Hall, 2 p.m.
- Kerrville planning and zoning commission, Kerrville City Hall, 4 p.m.
Kerrville Folk Festival
Starting at 8 p.m. in Threadgill Theater
- Hogan and Moss and the Weird Old America
- Crows News in the round with Steven Fisher and Brian Curtean, and an introduction by Crow Johnson.
Food for Kids
- Kids Cooking Camp — Hosanna Lutheran Church, Kerrville, 2:30-5:30 p.m. Information: https://forms.gle/Fy9LKhCU5svtF8CL6 The details: Kids who are currently in kindergarten through 5th grade are invited to sign up for our Kid's Cooking Camp! We will practice some cooking techniques, create a menu, cook dinner and learn how to set the table. The families will join us to enjoy the delicious meal at 5:30 p.m. The cost is $20.00 per child, and space is limited.
- Laugh Zone — Arcadia Live, 6 p.m. Information: 830-315-5483 The details: Join Will C. and Darl Felsberg for a night of laughs at Kerr County's ultimate comedy venue.
- John O'Bryant — Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, 10-11 a.m. Information: 830-258-1267 The details: John O'Bryant combines magic, illusion, music, storytelling, and audience participation to encourage the audience to read and help them realize that whatever they want to learn can be found in a book.
- Jake & Keith Asbury — Joanne Marie and Me Wine Boutique, 6 p.m.
Celebrating a summer of reading in Kerr County
Children signed up for the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library's summer reading program.
The only books that Ivan Mendoza cares about involve dinosaurs. But he loves those dinosaur books. Plenty of five-year-olds love books about the great beast of old, especially if their older sister reads them.
Ivan Mendoza was exactly the kind of kid that Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library wanted to attract on Wednesday night for its summer reading kickoff. More than 100 children drug their parents, grandparents and other associated family members for a night of literary fun — and bounce houses.
"The number of kids we see goes up 50-60% during the summer," said Library Director Danielle Brigatti, overseeing the event that featured a bounce house, snow cones, dogs, and music by the Exit 505 Band and books.
The library's summer reading program is focused on the ocean this year and features a wide range of summertime events at the library and the Cailloux Theater. One of the big weekly draws is Lego night, which the library's Kim Wygant oversees. The library is apparently in possession of a significant collection of Legos, Wygant said.
For Ivan Mendoza, he was taking a break from the bounce house because it suddenly deflated, but he shared with us he likes books. His sister, 12-year-old Yaretzi said she loves reading chapter books. The series "The Dork Diaries" has her hooked.
Kerrville Pets Alive! brought some furry friends out to the library event.
The Exit 505 Band kept everyone entertained on Wednesday.
Brigatti said those book series are essential for connecting children to reading. "It's really finding the right book for a child to relate to," said Brigatti, adding her nephew wasn't a big reader until an introduction to wizard Harry Potter.
An opportunity for health and wellness businesses to be on The Lead!
OK, coming June 16, we are mixing things up on The Lead with a special invitation for health, beauty and wellness businesses, practitioners and experts to tell us all about your work!
We are offering this space for sponsors only during this particular show. We will be streaming live from Pint and Plow from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in 15-minute segments, and we have 15 spots available. It's just $50 per segment.
We hope to connect our audience with your service or product during this special one-time show. So, if you'd like to join us on June 16, please send us a message, and we'll send you the details. Email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are 3 things to watch from today's short-term rental workshop
The Kerrville City Council and the planning and zoning commission will meet today to discuss the city's developing issues with a boom of short-term or vacation rentals.
In recent weeks, the two governmental bodies have shown increasing apprehension about the growth of the short-term sector, and today's discussion focuses on four areas:
- Use of Conditional Use Permit
- Registration/licensing as a business operation
Kerrville is approaching 100 short-term rentals with conditional-use permits, allowing the city to collect hotel occupancy taxes. However, the encroachment of these for-profit businesses into owner-occupied neighborhoods is beginning to irritate residents.
The Kerrville 2050 Plan, the city's long-term planning document, promises residents that it will protect the character of neighborhoods. Still, Texas prides itself in its enshrinement of property rights (in reality, every state does), and balancing those two elements could be tricky — not to mention litigious.
What the city is attempting to tackle is not new — hundreds of cities across the country face the same controversies. Navigating the landmines of takings claims and zoning will be challenging. Here are three things to watch:
- An outright moratorium seems like a stretch for Kerrville but strengthening the zoning requirements is probably the city's best bet. The city may want to restrict short-term rentals to residential transitional, but that hardly seems fair to a property owner in the Methodist Encampment area who is marketing a unique getaway spot with a residential single-family home zoning designation. However, we suspect zoning will be a focus of the conversation.
- The city already has an ordinance in place, but the simplest way to fix the problem is to strengthen the rules, especially around parking, noise and maintenance.
- Not doing anything. That also seems like a stretch — like a moratorium. However, you could argue the city's existing ordinance is acceptable, and this is not as big of a problem as some suggest.
But what about Takings?
We're glad you asked about that. So, here's our understanding: In some cases, property owners argue that regulatory burdens on their property — zoning and planning — constitute a taking by the government of their private property. The takings clause is in the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. It's already a centerpiece argument in some court cases involving short-term rentals, but it's not always clear how a court will decide. However, the Supreme Court expanded the definition of "regulatory takings" when it ruled in 2021 against California in a case involving a rule about union organizing on private property. It may seem like an apples and oranges comparison, but legal scholars took notice of the direction the court could take in defining private property rights.
Last year, a short-term rental case in New Jersey reached a federal court, which sided with the city of Jersey City's regulatory effort to limit the number of nights a home in an owner-occupied neighborhood can be rented. The property owners are appealing.
In a Santa Barbara, Calif. case, a local court ruled against that city's efforts to limit short-term rentals in certain areas — mainly near the beach. In a similar argument made in Kerrville, Santa Barbara worried about short-term rentals overriding the city's tight long-term rental market.
What are people saying?
We posted a preview story on The Lead's Facebook page, and we got some interesting comments about the short-term rental issue. Here's a sample:
- Kathy Burniston wrote: "Stands to reason that a short-term rentals would most likely be better maintained than some owned houses in order to keep their property a desirable venue for folks who want to visit our area. And bottom line, more visitors means more revenue for the town because they will shop here and dine out here."
- Judy Richie wrote: "First of all, owners in the neighborhood should be notified by mail, not put in a paper that not everyone reads. I had no idea one was up for approval on Mockingbird Ln. I didn't know about it until reading the Lead while the meeting was live. No way should that have been approved. We are almost all owner-occupied in the neighborhood. It's a quiet and safe one with very little traffic. You don't enter this neighborhood unless you go home or visit a friend. Tourists don't belong in neighborhoods."
- Mary Isadore wrote: "We need more long-term permanent rentals."
The planning and zoning commission tackles a big one
The return of "The Reserve at Kerrville" returns to the planning and zoning commission today, and this should pack the City Council chambers at 4 p.m.
The planned development — more than 400 acres and 1,600 housing units — has roiled potential neighbors in Comanche Trace who don't like the size of the project or its potential traffic along Texas Highway 173. Leading the opposition is Comanche Trace Realty, which fired its first volley against the project by questioning the developer's resume — Triple Root Development.
"The illustrations of the houses they provided are misleading because it gives a false impression of an open space with views, etc," wrote Trevor Hyde, president of Comanche Trace Realty. "Some of these homes will not fit the lots. Again, there is a fiduciary responsibility to make sure this type of project can be successful. I am not sure if they have done any projects in the United States, let alone in Texas and this is concerning. At this point, there are additional details needed in order to better understand what they are really going to do. Of course, all the pretty pictures and illustrations are nice, but they are lacking the devil in the details."
Triple Root is certainly vague about its construction projects in the U.S. — mostly touting international projects. However, they are coming with a more detailed plan for land use for this meeting, including how the project could interface, yet not connect, with Comanche Trace.
In last month's P&Z meeting, Chairman Mike Sigerman was unhappy about the number of variances requested by the developer to fit the proposed units into the more than 400 acres while preserving open space and minimizing grading. The developers asked for variances in lot sizes — some as small as 1,200-square feet — and building heights.
The other significant issue involves an arterial roadway — envisioned initially to look like Holdsworth Drive — that would connect highways 173 and 16. That plan seems to have changed to a smaller concept, which could be another sticking point for the commission. However, this is just one step in what could be a lengthy approval process.
Speaking of opposition
We went through each of the letters opposing the project, and we created a can you tell if this complaint is from California or Texas? Here we go:
- "What we would be doing is inserting a finger of urban activity into the middle of this farm ground, and I just think it's a really bad idea."
- "This development is not a good fit for our city and it will destroy the essence we love about this city."
- "I believe the population density, building setbacks and other alterations to City code will have an adverse effect on property values."
- "I don't agree with this project at all. This is actually the first I've heard of this project. I have four children, and I do not want anybody looking into my yard."
- "Does the new management realize what this is going to do to property values?"
- "We request that parks, open spaces, or other development that will not adversely affect the value of our property to be put adjacent to our property."
- "Surely, the developers don't think it is at all safe or compatible with the existing neighborhood. That one road cannot safely accommodate the increased traffic."
Answers: 1, California; 2. Texas; 3. Texas; 4. California; 5. Texas; 6. Texas; 7. California
This "Not In My Backyard" approach is an interesting one — so much so it's a field of study at many universities. As we were researching this story, we discovered this gem from the University of Chicago Press — a study written by William Marble and Clayton Nall — and here's their perspective:
"Liberal homeowners, especially, must cope with dissonance between their egalitarian ideology and a desire to protect their home values and quality of life. They often embrace liberal housing goals and redistributive housing policies but join conservatives in opposing dense housing in their own communities. Two survey experiments show that liberal homeowners are cross-pressured and barely more likely than conservative homeowners to support dense housing development. Messages appealing to homeowners' self-interest reduce support further, while countervailing appeals about housing's benefits to low- and middle-income families barely offset the negative effect. We discuss implications for the politics of equal opportunity at the state and local level."
COVID-19 warning signs bring back masks at Peterson
COVID-19 cases are rising across Texas, and Peterson Regional Medical Center sent a message Wednesday that Kerr County is facing its own increase.
The hospital said it was returning to a masking order for its staff while recommending their use when visiting the hospital, effective immediately.
Over the past month, Peterson Regional Medical Center averaged four hospitalizations per day with a high of 5 and a 5% positivity rate, with a high of 7% at one point.
"Both data points seem to be trending up," the hospital said in a news release."
On Wednesday, Texas reported more than 1,100 people hospitalized — the most significant number since March 29. In addition, COVID-19 pediatric hospitalizations continue to hover around 50 patients across Texas.
"Since the COVID pandemic, Peterson Health has been fortunate to be flexible with all of the changes that have risen over the past year," said Cory Edmondson, Peterson's president and CEO. "There have been periods of strict adherence and periods of relaxing protocols, while always ensuring our patients and community's best interest and safety."
Peterson said it requires employees in direct patient care areas or identified healthcare points to wear masks. Staff will continue to screen and test for COVID upon admission and screen patients or visitors at the hospital's front entrance and Ambulatory Care Center. All visitors or guests are encouraged to wear masks in patient rooms or direct patient areas.