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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Shelter Skelter

RECEIVED Wed., May 15, 2024

Dear Editor,
    RE: ["Animal Services Volunteers Rally for Council to Fire Their Boss," Daily News, May 14:]
    I recently retired from the Austin Animal Center after working eight years as the department executive assistant. In those eight years, I worked for four different directors, all of whom were inundated with complaints from the loud voices of animal welfare in Austin. Over and over again, quite often from the same individuals.
    The problems at the Austin Animal Center are not due to the director. Never have been. Current Director Don Bland has maintained the 95% live outcome rate mandated by the city. He and his staff have explored and continue to explore ways to address the many problems at the center, several of which can be attributed to a lack of resources or appropriate funding from the city.
    The center's staff have been villainized under every director. For the staff who come to work every day, at a little above minimum wage, it is heartbreaking and extremely stressful. No one at the center wants to put down animals. For anyone in the public to claim otherwise is egregiously flawed and downright heartless.
    It's easier to focus on the "bad guy" than to address the many challenges facing the center: housing that restricts pet owners; cost of maintaining animals and vet costs increase; lack of affordable, timely spay/neuters; lack of microchipping, and more. The city of Austin needs to stand up and provide the resources needed to appease the loud voices, or it needs to draw a line in the sand and close their collective ears to the garbage out there.
Belinda Hare

We're Your Favorite Newspaper? Aww...

RECEIVED Wed., May 15, 2024

Dear Editor,
    May I please respond to the guy who said, "Do you want to borrow my stapler?" I also have had trouble reading things close to the fold.
    I now may share what I learned: The staples have a good purpose. They keep our favorite newspaper together until you get it home. Once home, you may alter it. Remove the staples before reading. The question is, "Where is my staple remover?" It works great, it's all easy to read, and those loose papers can be used in other household tasks. Pro tip: Anything that you acquire, you may alter to suit your needs.
Paul Schnizlein

Rebuilding HOME

RECEIVED Mon., May 13, 2024

Dear Editor,
    The Austin Neighborhoods Council has been doing a careful, numbers-based analysis of the HOME proposal and we have a list of concerns:
    This proposal will not increase affordable housing in Austin and will increase gentrification all over the city, with particular intensity in the Eastern Crescent. It gives developers the right to build high-density housing throughout neighborhoods, effectively giving them everything they could possibly want while asking nothing in return. It also would make neighborhoods entirely powerless when they try to negotiate with developers for more thoughtful development in keeping with their neighborhood plans. It will place extraordinary burdens on public infrastructure and services that taxpayers will have to pay for, with increased risks to the health and safety of all residents, but particularly residents of flood-prone areas.
    We understand that the city is applying for grant money from the federal government to pay for Project Connect but we believe that the taxpayers need to know more about how exactly the Project Connect tax increase dollars are being used.
    We ask that the City Council restart HOME and work with neighborhoods, community organizations (including the ANC, PODER, GAVA, CPATX and SOS), professional experts, and, yes, developers. We also ask that the city abandon the one-size-fits-all approach to a Land Development Code and adopt an anti-displacement overlay that can be a tool to preserve existing communities threatened with gentrification, according to the People's Plan. The city should address the issue of unlicensed short-term rentals that are keeping housing units off the market and inflating housing prices and find creative financing solutions that make it possible for middle-income homeowners to afford accessory dwelling units that can serve to help families stay in their homes.
Thank you,
Julie Woods and the ANC Executive Committee

Hold Your Trojan Horses

RECEIVED Sat., May 11, 2024

Dear Editor,
    The citizen protest gathering at City Hall on Tuesday, May 16, is all about the city's deregulation of the land use code. Fewer regulations for developers means easier profits for them and greater tax revenues for the city. But deregulation also drives out much-needed lower-income citizens, as well as causing irreparable damage to the environment and community values. Our mayor and majority of the City Council are in agreement with this deregulation. In fact, they encourage it, even if it brings down on them negative court decisions condemning the illegality of their behaviors.
    In addition to these ongoing court reversals is the damage being done to the community as a whole. The gap between those who govern and those who are governed continues to grow. The necessary balance between legitimate economic development and community stability is being systematically destroyed, HOME being the latest in an increasing line of Trojan horses brought out for citizens to put colorful Post-It notes onto satisfy the city's need for the appearance of democratic process. But the assumptions inside this parade of Trojan horses are never questioned by the mayor and Council, because the city has never involved the citizens of Austin most affected by proposed changes to participate in the initial planning of such proposals. Meanwhile, the pro-development assumptions inside the horse open the city gates to increasing exploitation by removing all the protections for citizens that it can.
    So here is a positive proposal for the mayor and Council to consider, and that is to involve in the actual design process of the code the people most affected by the proposed changes, such as citizen homeowners, apartment-dwellers, threatened economic and racial groups, and organizations with a proven record of involvement in the protection of long-term community values, such as: NAACP, PODER, GAVA, ANC, SOS and others committed to the whole community, not just to immediate profits and increased tax revenues. Is the mayor and the Council willing to consider such a change in their governing approach to land use reform? It would be a huge step forward.
Respectfully yours,
Albert Meisenbach

Reduce, Reuse, Re... Something

RECEIVED Thu., May 9, 2024

Dear Editor,
    We have a great city. One of the best! I've lived here for years and it's hard to beat. Once our fair city discovers a semi-recent invention called recycling, I believe it will be nearly perfect! We all know by now that recycling plastic is fake, but every time I see a garbage can full of Topo bottles and beer cans I die a little and am tempted to call up the UN and ask them to add this issue to their Sustainable Development Goals. And a blue can lined with black plastic that's also full of garbage doesn't count!
Thank you <3
Emily May
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