Forced From Living in the Central City

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 1, 2007

Dear Editor,
    I would like to thank Kevin Gallaugher for his letter in the Sept. 28 issue [“Postmarks”] regarding being forced from his central-city neighborhood due to city of Austin policies and the lack of meaningful code enforcement. Although in my case, the tree ordinance was not a deciding issue: Last summer I regretfully had to make the difficult decision to sell my home on 35th Street after residing there for 17 years. The city of Austin allowed a once-quaint neighborhood to become a UT student ghetto, as developers exploited building loopholes to turn single-family homes into dormitory-style student rentals. Six or more college students per property – each with his or her own SUV – began to replace the long-term homeowners who were driven out by the noise, garbage, and general lack of peace. Lower occupancy limits among unrelated adults are still urgently needed, as are proactive measures regarding noise and quality-of-life issues. Best of luck to Mr. Gallaugher in his new neighborhood. It was in the historic district of Old Georgetown that I did manage to find a traditional urban neighborhood free of McMansions, superduplexes, and drunken frat-boy neighbors while avoiding the cookie-cutter sameness of so many other surrounding suburbs. And yes, since we are still free of most Austin-style development pressures – the giant oak and pecan trees are thriving in the older neighborhoods near Downtown, their greatest threat being from disease or storm damage.
Scott Barnes
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