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Letters are posted as we receive them during the week, and before they are printed in the paper, so check back frequently to see new letters. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor, use this postmarks submission form, or email your letter directly to [email protected]. Thanks for your patience.
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Park It

RECEIVED Wed., May 17, 2023

Dear Editor,
    A typical interior residential block in Austin is around 700 ft. long and contains a dozen or so houses, so there is 1400 ft. on both sides of the street. Driveways account for about 15% of that space, so that leaves about 1200 feet of curb space. If 3 out of 12 of those houses on each side of the street are replaced with fourplexes, which provide no parking, consider the following:  Austin has an average of 1.6 vehicles per dwelling unit, so six fourplexes would put 38 cars on the street in our hypothetical block. A vehicle parked parallel to the curb requires about 25 ft. of space, so those 38 cars would take 950 feet of space out of the available 1200 feet. (You can plug in other numbers for six or eight-plexes (as CodeNext would have allowed) and/or add more dwelling units per block.) 
    Of course, there are already cars that are parked on the street, and those would pretty much fill up or exceed the rest of the available curb space. Also, delivery vehicles, waste disposal trucks, construction vehicles, visitors, etc. need space. This scenario describes an unsafe street that I would be afraid to walk down in the single center lane of the street. (The cost to build out sidewalks in the city exceeds $1B, and the likelihood of spending available sidewalk money on interior residential streets is very low.) How would a fire truck or ambulance get through, regardless of sidewalks? This potential congestion is the impetus for the Shared Streets program.
    There isn't much detail on the City's website about Shared Streets, but the idea is to carve out spaces along the curb that allow pedestrians to get out of the way of vehicles. My biggest question is how the location and frequency of spaces are determined. It seems counter-intuitive to eliminate all required parking and then create spaces on the street that are off limits for parking. Will Shared Streets be dynamic so that the number and location of spaces is adjustable as the demand for street parking increases or decreases? IMO, the worst case scenario would be to add too much density so there are too many cars in an area for the total available parking, causing cars to cruise around in search of a freshly vacated parking spot. I hope the City Council and city manager considers these pedestrian safety concerns when deliberating this issue. 
David Piper

UT Fumble

RECEIVED Thu., May 11, 2023

Dear Editor,
    Thanks to Edwin Bautista for his excellent May 12 editorial [“Opinion: UT Shouldn't Prioritize Football Over Historic Preservation”] regarding the UT athletic department's plan to destroy the historic building that was the University Junior High, is in the National Register of Historic places, and now houses the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. This destruction would not only be a loss of an important piece of architectural, social, and racial history, but the building houses a significant and grand mural by the renown artist, Raul Valdez, painted in 1995. In addition, the grounds of the building are home to several magnificent heritage oaks that have stood for centuries. Every effort should be made to persuade the athletic department and university leadership to rethink the plan to replace this treasure with yet another football practice field.
Barbara Anderson
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