While it's not your dream house, your school's location is very important. Sure, some public magnet schools can be stuck in shady neighborhoods and still do well, but that's simply not typical, and less true of private schools. Your location must be near enough to the population center and the economic center, especially if you do not offer busing. So you spend years finding the perfect spot for your new school, but there's some empty land right next door or down the block. Without the right vocabulary, you might end up with fewer students, so let's talk about NIMBY, LULU, and your other friends in the urban planning realm.

Let's say that the Jacksonville, FL, City Council has voted to allow the vacant land right next to your school at Kernan and McCormick to be developed. That's OK, since land is at a premium in JAX, and you're not into the BANANA movement (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything). Vacant land should be developed, and as a private school, new homes mean new students. At least if those homes are bringing in parents with the paychecks to afford your school.

But let's say that apartment complex is a low-income housing development. Or a power plant. That's when NIMBY comes into play (Not In My Back Yard). Yes, we need those types of places, but it's better somewhere else, right? There are some uses, like the city dump, that nobody wants near their property.


The truth is that most cities realize that NIMBY projects are better suited to other parts of town, so you might be safe from a manufacturing plant going in next door, but what if it's something like a gas station? That's where LULU can give you some help (Locally-Unacceptable Land Use). You can argue that the corner where McCormick and Kernan meet should be developed in a way that compliments the current uses: residential housing, three churches, and your school. Does a gas station, selling booze and tobacco, open all night, serve as a beacon for lost souls seeking guidance at the churches? Maybe if there was a Gas n God franchise out there.

The problem is that you've got a DUDE to deal with (Developer Under Delusions of Entitlement). The city needs housing. The city needs economic development. People need gas and beer. Plus, this developer might have created several other successful business centers in the city. Maybe even a BIG donation to one of the churches.

Even if the DUDE has a total NORF (No Observable Redeeming Features), it's the DUDE, Man. That's when you have to convince your local council member that he wants a NIMTOO (Not In My Term Of Office), which might shelve the development.

 But your school doesn't want to be a total CAVEman (Citizen Against Virtually Everything), and you have to consider the ramifications of fighting against any land use, even if it's seemingly unacceptable. Maybe the city will decide to throw a used car lot on the other vacant lot. Maybe you're better off attending public meetings and getting the DUDE to commit to ensuring the corner is the safest in the city for pedestrians and kids on bikes. Or that the convenience store won't sell alcohol because you don't want broken beer bottles in your church or school parking lot.

Bottom line is that you have to do something. Throwing your hands up in the air several years down the road won't help. When you see development coming, get involved. Jacksonville, like most cities, has a process. You were probably invited to a public hearing about changing the zoning, and you probably thought the politicians and the DUDE would do the right thing, but it's probably a good idea to show up just in case that doesn't happen.

Jacksonville News

New Jax Witty

Articles, reviews, advice, and legitimate research to go along with some back-handed comments. Think of us as Jacksonville's mother-in-law.
  • Only Way to Avoid The Reverse Mortgage Disaster
    I've seen several news articles about the pitfalls of reverse mortgages. I also saw that we've set up a fund to help people when they get stuck with a reverse mortgage here in Florida. But the simple answer that most older people don't want to hear is that there's only one way to avoid disaster with a reverse mortgage: don't get one.

    The ad that inspired this reverse mortgage article claims that Americans have trillions of dollars just sitting there, not being used. The problem is that a reverse mortgage isn't using that money, either. It's using the house that's worth that money as collateral for a LOAN. It's a loan that needs to be paid off when your house is sold. You can make mistakes and end up losing your house.

    The better advice for anyone already retiredor looking to retire is to sell. I know, you love your house, all the stuff in it, the neighbors you wave at, the same big box retail down the road, and all the stuff in the house. It's basic economics: if you own something outright worth $500,000, sell it for $500,000 and rent a nice condo for 20 years. If you take out a reverse mortgage, then you can get $250,000 towards a condo for 10 years, still pay property taxes and insurance on the house, and continue to maintain it so that in a decade, you'll make enough money to pay off your reverse mortgage loan. New AC, new roof, new driveway? That would all eat into the profit on selling your house that you'll need to cover all the interest on the loan. Don't pay a bank for the right to live in a house for your entire life. Avoid reverse mortgages at all costs.
  • Rental Bikes Aren't Exactly For The Homeless
    Local news was down in St. Augustine covering the newly-proposed use of some kind of bike-share rental system. Since it's standard operating procedure, a homeless man was interviewed about the program. He said something to the effect that it would be good to have options for someone like him who can't afford a bike. FYI local news and homeless people: bike rental programs are not really created for the homeless.

    Since I don't claim to know the biking habits of the typical homeless individual, I'm going to assume it involves getting to a place and then back home. Home being a structure in a field outside of town, not where you'd be able to return the bike for credit. My understanding would be that these folks would need the bike to get to and from "work," each and every day. Based on a similar rental system I found online, the 24-hour rental is $24. Alternatively, an annual pass is $80. The problem is that the trips can only be 60 minutes each. Assuming the homeless camp is close enough to downtown, this might work as a way to get around once in St. Augustine. Not a bad yearly price to not have to worry about bike maintenance, anyhow. If you're homeless already, and now you can get as many maintenance-free trips on a bike as you can use each day, then $80 for the year isn't bad at all.

    But wait, there's less. The yearly pass will need to be paid for with a credit card with a fob mailed to an address. So even if these ride share bikes makes sense to homeless people, it might not be something that can be purchased without the help of someone with credit and an address. It might seem like a lot of people would volunteer to do this, but any extra time or any damage would be billed to the credit card, so I certainly wouldn't volunteer my credit in the hopes that someone else will always return the bike in time (or at all). The Cincinnati bike share, for example, charges $1,200 for a bike that is not returned.

    I have a $1,000 bike. At least someone paid $1,000 for it back in 1986. I picked it up amidst college moving day garbage at UW-Milwaukee back in 1999. It was already worth $0 at that point. I've used some tape to hold it together, but it's still worth about $0. Since I'm probably not the only person in the area with a worthless bike, I'm thinking a bike donation for the homeless might make more sense than saying they should be using tourist bikes. That's not to say that bike shares don't have a place in St. Augustine, just that it might be meant for rich tourists instead of homeless interviewees.