The Austin Chronicle

The Daily Hustle: 5/18/10

By Wells Dunbar, May 18, 2010, 9:31am, Newsdesk

The questions enveloping the potential November transportation bond election (and bond votes thereafter) show no sign of abating, as a local advocacy group has called to think the proposal over.

Yesterday, local advocacy organization Liveable City sent a memo to council and issued a press release calling to "reconsider" the vote. While stopping short of proposing the election be canned, the Liveable Citizens rattle off a laundry list of problems they see with a vote in six months:

• Lack of public process and citizen participation in determining the focus of the bond package;
• Limiting the bond to transportation without an examination of other community needs;
• Insufficient time and research to support a rail component;
• Potential impact of holding multiple bond elections in a short time period;
• Creating a bond package before completing Austin’s Comprehensive Plan and Strategic Mobility Plan;
• Lack of alignment with recent federal transportation policies and livability principles;
• Lack of broad community representation on the citizen bond review committee;
• Insufficient time for the bond committee to provide a thorough and meaningful review of the proposed package.
Their objections are also summarized in the conclusion to their memo to council:
Liveable City questions the potential financial impact of holding a transportation bond election this year, followed by a larger rail bond vote in 2011 and a major general bond election in 2013. These concerns are heightened by the possibility that AISD may also hold its own major bond election, a tax ratification vote, or both within the same three- year period, and that ACC may also contemplate a bond election in the next few years.

We are further concerned that the failure to consider a broader range of community issues in the current bond proposal will leave pressing needs unaddressed and that the lack of meaningful public engagement in identifying community priorities will prevent the leveraging of our investments across multiple goals. We also question the logic in holding a bond election before the Comprehensive Plan and Strategic Mobility Plan, as well as the CAMPO 2035 Plan, are completed.

As we wrote last week, Sheryl Cole's item calling for more funding options to address transportation issues outside of a bond vote was postponed from last council meeting to their May 27 session – and sure enough, it's already on the 5/27 draft agenda. As always, keep with TDH for the latest developments.

What the hell else is happening?

Highlights on the city calendar: The Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan’s Citizens Advisory Task Force convenes in Room 2016 at City Hall, 301 W. Second, 11:30am, to address – what else? – their draft vision statement.

Council's Public Health and Human Services Committee meets in the Boards and Commissions room at City Hall, 301 W. 2nd. 3pm. They’ll tackle the anti-loitering “no sit, no lie” Ordinance, along with an implementation report on Austin’s nascent “no kill” ordinance.

The Environmental Board’s Water Treatment Plant #4 Subcommittee is meeting in Room 240 at One Texas Center. 4pm, talking about transmission lines, among other topics.

The Zoning and Platting Commission is meeting in the Council Chambers at City Hall. 6pm. Eleven public hearings are on the agenda.

The Resource Management Commission is lighting up the Board and Commission room at City Hall. 6:30pm. Updates are scheduled on the Austin Water Utility’s conservation programs and Austin Energy’s green building program.

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