Stacking the Deck
Let’s assume you need to make some form of community modification requiring approval by the local municipality. You work with your consultants to prepare the modification. You work to gain support of the community leaders. You review with and finalize terms of the modification with the city planning staff, gaining a positive recommendation for presentation to the city council. Finally, you reach out to the individual council members to bring them up to speed on the rationale behind the amendment. It seems you have covered all your bases. Approval should be a rubber stamp. What can go wrong?
The wild card here is the city council hearing itself. You should always assume that someone or some group will come to speak out against the proposal. As council members are publicly elected, they have a duty and responsibility to pay attention to their constituents. Let’s do the math for a minute. Assume four people come to speak out against your proposal and two speak in favor. Regardless of everything you may have done right leading up to the hearing, you may find yourself with a problem. There is truth to the statement that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. With more physical evidence against approval staring the commission in the face, they will be hard pressed to disregard the naysayers and give the logical approval. Call it unfair, call it injustice, call it aggravation. I call it democracy.
The good news is that this problem is easily solved with proper up front planning. Make sure that you have sufficient numbers of supporters present at the hearing to speak in favor of your proposal. Feed them, bus them, throw them a party. Whatever it takes. Just make sure that they show up to let the council know that the correct decision is also the one that is most wildly supported.
Unfortunately, life is not always fair. However, there are many times that life can be better controlled by stacking the deck in your favor. Knowing that the best laid plans are usually the best plans, make sure that when your proposal comes up for a vote that you have plenty of people there to speak out on your behalf. Nothing pleases a council more than to know they are enforcing the will of the people.
Until next time…
Keep kicking the dirt!
Jeff Gersh is President of Gersh Consulting Services, a real estate advisory firm, headquartered in Orlando, FL. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-468-9328