Useful information from the North Austin Coalition of Neighborhoods
26 October 2011 - 0:25, by , in News, No comments

A few quick bits of news:

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First, Gracywoods is seeing a big spike in home break-ins. The affected neighborhood on high alert, and has let other neighborhoods know as well.
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The Voter’s Guide for the next election is Online and will also be in the Statesman:

You can find a hard copy of the 2011 LWVTX Voters Guide in this Sunday’s (Oct. 23) Austin American-Statesman. This document describes each amendment in plain English, and lists pros and cons of each proposed amendment.

Voting on the 2011 Texas Constitutional Amendments will be held on November 8, 2011.

Early Voting starts on October 24 and lasts through November 4.

the guide is on the left hand side here: http://lwvaustin.org/
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Sustainable Neighborhoods, south of us, sent us some info that we need to all be aware of. I can’t stress how important their concept of family-friendly corridors is – its not something that anybody else in the city is pushing, but its a very important way to re-think how we look at our priorities along these roads.

In the Lamar Study, they are stating 13% of the area serviced by North Lamar do not have cars. Making our corridors family-friendly is especially crucial when you look at numbers like that. (city-wide, the number of people without cars is 5%)

Please Let the City Know You Support a Family-Friendly Vision for Burnet Rd

The City of Austin is undertaking a transportation study of Burnet Rd that will recommend pedestrian-, bicycle- and transit-friendly projects for the November 2012 bond package. This is great news, but the study’s vision needs reworking.

P.K. Kwesi, the study’s project manager, at a public meeting on Oct 18 said the vision for Burnet Rd is based on “Core Transit Corridor Design Standards.” “Core Transit Corridor Design Standards” refers to the Commercial Design Standards/Vertical Mixed Use (CDS/VMU) ordinance. This ordinance envisions mixed use buildings 3-5 stories in height all along the arterial, with a 12-15 ft streetscape.

This “linear VMU” model makes sense for areas closer to downtown. For a suburban street like Burnet, it will cause more traffic congestion than necessary. Worse, the exclusive pedestrian focus on a narrow streetscape along a busy arterial is child-hostile.

The CDS/VMU “vision” never received local public input. Many people in our community opposed it. It lacks legitimacy. Conversely, Sustainable Neighborhoods’ vision of a family-friendly corridor, with the most new housing concentrated closest to well-designed rapid transit stations at major intersections, was at the heart of public feedback at the public meeting on September 22, attended by over 60 people. We think this needs to be the vision that informs the rest of the study. If policymakers have concerns or objections, these need to be discussed.

Please politely write Mr. Kwesi and copy Gordon Derr (Transportation Dept) and George Adams (Planning Dept, leading review of the CDS/VMU ordinance). Express your support for a family-friendly, node-based vision for Burnet Rd. Their emails:

[email protected] PK Kwesi

[email protected] Gordon Derr

[email protected] George Adams

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Sustainable Neighborhoods has received permission from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to plant 14 trees on the NE and SE corners of the intersection of North Lamar Blvd and Koenig (2222). The tentative planting date is Saturday, Dec. 3 at 2 PM.

Sustainable Neighborhoods will plant 50 trees on Burnet Rd between 2222 and Anderson in March 2012, after the City of Austin completes a transportation study that may make adjustments to the Right of Way.

Please contact [email protected] if you would be interested in volunteering or donating for this project. Or donate online: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=L673RD29NSZ6N.

Great Christmas Gift: Name a Tree for a Loved One

SN will dedicate a tree for you and optionally post a website page describing the tree and your dedication. This is a great way to show your affection for someone, in a way that is at once intimate and visible every day. A donation of $100 or more will allow us to plant and establish the tree. And of course, this gift brings beauty to our community. You can choose any of the projects above to support. (There are only two trees at Lamar, so they will be dedicated on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, you can also dedicate one of the trees at Lamar that we planted last year). Thank you!
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This is from Sustainable Neighborhoods, but it really points out a trend we are seeing all the way up into our area as well. The City of Austin has stated they only want to grow North and South. They don’t want to grow east or west, for environmental reasons. These studies are only the tip of the iceberg – the next building boom will be in North Central and North Austin.

Summary of Area Planning News

The City of Austin is getting serious about planning in North Central Austin. Here’s a summary of recent news:

The first draft Comprehensive Plan was released in September and is available here: http://www.imagineaustin.net/intro
The Preferred Growth Scenario represents the bones of the plan – it shows where most new housing and transportation will be located. The main changes for North Central Austin are the designations of Burnet Rd north of Anderson and Anderson east of Burnet Rd as mixed use corridors, and of the area near Anderson and Mopac as a neighborhood center.
The Airport Blvd corridor planning process is well under way. This article from the Austin Chronicle provides a recent update, including an updated concept map: http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2011-10-21/preparing-for-takeoff/
The same article says that the process and new zoning categories that emerge from the Airport Blvd process may be applied to Burnet, N Lamar and other corridors in the next year or two.
Transportation studies of Burnet Rd from 2222 north all the way to Mopac, and N Lamar north of 183, are in full swing.
The Burnet study will define future transportation projects, including short-term projects like bike lanes, sidewalks and improvements to intersections that may go into the November 2012 bond package. A draft of the study will be released in January.
A new open space ordinance, that requires at least 5% publicly-accessible open space for most new development, reached City Council last Thursday but discussion was deferred. SN hopes there is support for a change that will cap how much of the minimum open space in VMU developments can be above ground to 30%. Another compromise floated would cap above-ground open space at 50% specifically for green rooftops.
City staff are reviewing the Commercial Design Standards/Vertical Mixed Use (CDS/VMU) ordinance and will offer recommendations for public feedback in November. This is the ordinance that defines much of the zoning along our commercial streets.

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