To the leaders of the City of Port Isabel
The last couple of weeks have been a very stressful time for our City leaders, City staff and the residents of Port Isabel. This letter is not about the perception of who is right and who is wrong. It is about how we as residents, tax payers and voters expect to be governed in this municipality.
First I would like to stress that if you are an elected official please govern yourself as your citizens are governed by you. Expect of yourself that which is expected of the citizens of Port Isabel. If certain laws apply to your personal situation you are as deserving of protection under those laws as any citizen would be. But please don’t use your elected position to further your personal agenda.
Please understand that your family and friends should expect no special treatment simply because you hold an elected position. You are in that elected position because we trust you to govern us fairly and equally.
Remember your campaign promises even after you are elected. Those promises are one of the reasons you hold an elected office. We remember them and so should you.
Employees of the City depend on their jobs. It is how they take care of their families. This situation has been particularly hard on them given the hostile environment that has been created among the Commissioners.
These issues should have been brought up when they began and not just in time for election leverage. The timing of this has not escaped voter attention.
Port Isabel is a clean, friendly and great place to live and work. It got that way through the hard work of the elected official, City employees and the many volunteers that donate their time and effort. Let’s not derail their efforts due to the political climate of the past few weeks.
If these basic ideals are not for you please don’t run for office.
As for those of us that bother to vote, it is imperative that we know the facts and don’t rely on the misguided representations of those seeking political favor from any candidate. Attend the meetings for yourself. Ask the questions that need to be asked and answered. This is, after all, your government.
Glenda Stafford, Resident, Merchant
In regards to the HOT tax
As a citizen and a business owner representing rental property owners on South Padre Island, I was pleased to be a member of the HOT Tax Task force that developed the new City ordinance requiring the registration of all short term rental properties. I believe that this ordinance is great for the Island and great for property owners for the following reasons:
- The ordinance provides the City with a means to enforce the collection and remittance of Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) by requiring that all short term rental properties be registered with the City and file HOT tax reports. Property owners who are renting their properties at a lower total price by not collecting hotel tax will no longer have an illegal competitive advantage (14.5 percent discount) over property owners who are complying with the law. And of course, compliance will add to our tax base providing additional funds for promotion of our Island.
- The ordinance requires that the registration number be posted on all advertising. This will bring creditability in the vacation rental marketplace for properties on South Padre Island. We have seen a large volume lately of fraudulent listings that are scraped from legitimate websites such as ours or the MLS sales listings. Guests show up on the Island only to find out that they paid for a rental that does not exist or is invalid, which gives our Island a bad reputation. Guests can now have a way to identify vacation rental properties that are reputable and in good standing with the City.
- The ordinance requires a 24/7 contact number with a one hour response time for all short term rentals. This will assist our City authorities in enforcing our quality of life ordinances: noise, disturbance and fire code occupancy, by holding the rental owner or their rental agent accountable for the actions of their rental guests. This will also contribute to the enforcement of the quality of life rules that so many building HOAs have enacted. Perhaps this will reduce the number of buildings that are turning toward extreme measures of severe rental restrictions.
Eleana Jones, CPA, Broker
Co-owner, Padre Getaways LLC
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On community responsibility
What does it mean to be living in a community?
This letter has been prompted by an encounter I had this morning with a member of the Harbor Community within the SPI Golf Course. During this encounter, the member of the Harbor Community posed me the question, “Is it the community’s responsibility to keep you safe?” This question embodies a challenging problem in America and our society today: I can do this on my own, I don’t need anyone else, and I am not responsible for anyone else. For me, this is not community.
To give this encounter context, my running buddy and I (I live on Beach, she lives in the Golf Course) were entering the Harbor community thru the gate at the end of Beach Blvd. We started taking this route after an irresponsible driver killed Becky Haugh on 501, almost a year ago to this day. We explained to him that we run this way for our safety, since Becky died. To be met with the question, “Is it the community’s responsibility to keep you safe?” was disheartening, devastating, and frustrating.
I am a member of the Parks and Recreation Board here in Laguna Vista. I know the Harbor Community has been completely close-minded about allowing pedestrians access to their community. However, without pedestrian access, individuals are subject to walking or running on the dangerous highway, and, worse, the community is divided against a dangerous mentality that suggests no one is responsible for a neighbor’s well-being.
It is absolutely your and everyone else’s responsibility to keep each other safe. It is absolutely your responsibility to not text and drive. It is absolutely your responsibility to drive the speed limit. It is absolutely your responsibility to be considerate of pedestrians of all types: walkers, runners, bikers, and skateboarders. It is absolutely your responsibility to think in greater terms than your small world and allow others to be safe on our streets.
We live in a community. We live in a society. We all contribute. You cannot live in society and do it on your own. You need our police officers, you need our emergency medical services, you need our roads and bridges, and on, and on, and on. You need society so that you can achieve your successes. So, the answer to the question this community member posed is, YES, it is your responsibility to keep me safe, and my children, and my dog. Let’s work together as a community to make it safer. Let’s stop with the, “this is mine,” “this is yours” mentality. We all need each other on some level or another.
Dr. Kirstin Sippel
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On stray dogs
To whom it may concern:
Over the last 10 years I have called the Laguna Vista Police over 50 times regarding loose dogs. I was attacked in 2008 on my bike only to be medically treated for my neck and leg for six months and they never caught the dog.
Every day when I’m walking my own dog on a leash there are over five to six loose dogs in Laguna Vista.
I have been chased down, I have been cornered by dogs to the point where I finally bought mace.
I have sent several letters to Port Isabel PRESS regarding this problem.
Tonight after work I did not bring my mace. It was a beautiful evening, I decided to take my old dog who is very old with a heart condition out for a short walk on the street in which I live.
On the 400 block of Morris Street I was attacked by a small aggressive terrier and five seconds later I nearly lost my balance with a huge pit bull attacking my dog.
This huge pit bull attacked my dog in a choke hold, lunging at me, lunging at the dog while I was trying to protect my own pet and screaming.
The individuals who lived in the house of the dog came to the street watched the dog attack me and my dog again and again and did nothing! Absolutely nothing.
There were workers on a neighbor’s roof over a block away who heard my screams but were on the roof and were witnesses to this event.
The residence and caretakers of this dog did absolutely nothing. It was only when the dog got tired of me trying to kick him that he walked away.
A police report has been filed but the owners of this dog still have the dog!
It has not been removed from this household.
Who will be next victim?
Who will pay for my hospital bill I have and my hand that may possibly be broken???
Who will pay for my injured dog who is 15 years old who is traumatized, weak and barely walking? His neck is swollen and I will spend tomorrow at the vet and at the hospital??? I pray he is ok.
Well these irresponsible residents stood and watched and their excuse was they didn’t want to interfere because they might be bitten!!!!
When will Laguna Vista wake up and hold the residents accountable for their vicious dogs, for their dogs that are neglected day after day, for the dogs that run loose in the morning so no one can walk safely? When will this ever change??? My dog is traumatized, as I am
Does a child have to die in Laguna vista ???
This is beyond outrageous.
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