CHARTER CHANGE FAQ'S
WHY IS THIS CHARTER ELECTION IMPORTANT?
Sidewalks are historically addressed by Council to meet changing requirements in response to Citizens. The Charter is a very complex document which establishes the structure of City government and requires a city wide election to revise. The charter changes would establish such a complex and expensive approval process that probably no residential sidewalk would be constructed in Bellaire in the future.
It's about preserving our democracy and form of government, and ultimately your ability to influence the future direction of your city. As an independent, home-rule municipality, Bellaire enjoys the privilege of self-governance through a democratically elected City Council. These proposed Charter amendments would take the question of sidewalks away from that legislative process, now and for generations to come. Whether you're for or against sidewalks isn't the point--this issue simply doesn't belong in the City Charter.
WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS OF AMENDING A CITY CHARTER VS. PASSING AN ORDINANCE?
The Charter is essentially our city's "constitution," a very complex document that establishes the structure of our city government and requires a city-wide election to be revised. The City is governed, and policy decisions are made, by the democratically elected City Council through its adoption of ordinances. The City Council is able to address residents' needs and desires through a very public process, and can adopt new ordinances as those needs and desires may change over time. Amending the City Charter would take that ability away from the City Council, which would also mean taking away your ability to influence the future direction of your city.
WHAT OBSTACLES WILL BE PUT IN PLACE IF THESE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS PASS?
The sidewalk process will be so expensive and complex that Council will just not venture there. A pre-approval engineering design will be required, with the sidewalk at risk of not being constructed.
WHY DOES THE ANTI-SIDEWALKS FACTION WANT TO AMEND THE CITY CHARTER? WHY NOT JUST PASS AN ORDINANCE?
Whether Bellaire residents are opposed to more sidewalks or not, most would agree that amending the city charter is wildly inappropriate. That’s killing a gnat with a sledgehammer. For a small city like Bellaire, the city charter is akin to the US Constitution. It should only be amended with regard to major issues that cannot be dealt with any other way. Currently, any new sidewalk project will be subject to a City Council vote with input from the residents. One reason that the anti-sidewalk faction might have chosen this route is because they know that repealing a provision in the city charter will be practically impossible, therefore ensuring that Bellaire residents may never again choose to support a new sidewalk. It, in effect, removes the choice from the residents, while attempting to make it seem that it will do the opposite.