"...It's been a busy week for the city's Planning Commission: a special called CodeNEXT meeting last Thursday, plus a regular meeting Tuesday that briefly dove back into Thursday's discussion. This week, attention turns to the developing Austin Strategic Mobility Plan and Capital Metro's like-minded projects, and how they both might play along with the new code...."
"...Predictably as clockwork – or calendar-work, with the FY 2018 budget deliberations looming on the horizon – the "affordability" phrase is back in the City Council air, carrying as many definitions as there are tongues to repeat it. Formally on the agenda today, March 2, is a resolution sponsored by Council Member Ellen Troxclair (co-sponsored by Mayor Steve Adler and CMs Ora Houston, Ann Kitchen, and Jimmy Flannigan), to direct staff "to prepare a timeline, budget recommendations, and ordinances necessary to finalize and implement the Austin Affordability Action Plan" itemized in the resolution..."
"...Austinites can "vote" on those issues at next week's Imagine Austin community forums, April 27-May 1. At the workshops – expanded to include both the city's Comprehensive Plan and its Strategic Mobility Plan – participants will work together to place people and employment around the region..."
"...The projects prioritized in the emerging Austin Strategic Mobility Plan (Phase I) are those most likely to make it into a November transportation bond referendum package. In that light, the forums also serve as helpful voter education...."
"...So perhaps it could happen that fast in Austin – or even faster, with the help of a federal climate bill. Austin has had its ambitious Austin Climate Protection Plan in place since February 2007..."
"...It's a good thing he's got his bearings, because the upcoming year, which formally began with Monday's swearing-in of both new (Paige Ellis and Natasha Harper-Madison) and returning (Mayor Steve Adler, Ann Kitchen, Pio Renteria, Kathie Tovo) council members, isn't likely to prove any lighter a load. He'll earn the pay raise Council gave him at the end of last year as he reinvents CodeNEXT, spends the money voters approved in the 2018 and 2016 bonds, implements the long-gestating Austin Strategic Mobility Plan in conjunction with Capital Metro's Project Connect, and tackles the homelessness crisis facing every corner of the city..."
"...She's waiting on the delivery of Connections 2025. That's the agency's 10-year strategic plan: five years of immediately achievable goals, plus another five of looser goals to be sharpened up when they start work on its replacement in 2020..."
"...It's been more than a year – do you know where your Austin Climate Protection Plan is?..."
"...When Mayor Lee Leffingwell announced March 10 that the city had too many unanswered questions to "bring a fully developed urban rail proposal to Austin voters this November," he said he would still propose a 2010 bond referendum for other projects within Austin's emerging multimodal Strategic Mobility Plan – "a $100 million package of investments in roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails." Council Member Randi Shade said she will co-sponsor that proposal, which will direct city staff to prepare a proposed list of priority projects, to begin relieving traffic congestion quickly...."
"...Residents may weigh in on the city's Strategic Mobility Plan as part of a community forum series on the Austin Comprehensive Plan process. "Imagine Austin!" meetings will run Nov..."
"...In the meantime, I've been pondering a colloquy in last week's City Council meeting, among the dais and City Demographer Ryan Robinson, over the implications of the Strategic Housing Plan (which had just been demoted to a "Blueprint"). Robinson had been invited to explicate his memo to city management a few days earlier, in which he applauded the work underlying the SHP (or "SHB") but suggested it greatly overestimated the ability of the city to affect the local real estate market sufficiently to have a mitigating effect on prices (see "Public Notice: More and Cheaper Housing," April 14)..."
"...Department of Housing and Urban Development, strongly urged Austin and Central Texas to get better aligned with the federal Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The keynote speaker at the Envision Central Texas 2010 Community Stewardship Awards luncheon, Poticha is a leader of the HUD-Environmental Protection Agency-Department of Transportation integrated funding initiative, which is built around six "livability principles." She urged more than 200 regional leaders in attendance to work to win an award from the $98 million in Sustainable Communities Planning Grants..."
"...Thanks to a reorganization by City Manager Marc Ott, the new department now houses some 160 city positions; its challenge is to address Austin's traffic and mobility woes. The announcement of a concrete program is timely, given the need to inform the city's upcoming comprehensive plan and the region's emerging 2035 transportation and land-use plan from the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization..."
"...Imagine Austin, the city’s comprehensive 30-year plan for an inclusive, safe, livable, affordable, accessible, engaged, and healthy Austin, turned five years old on June 15. To celebrate (albeit a bit late), city staff released a progress report of the work accomplished and challenges the effort has faced...."
"...That core question informs the Downtown Austin Plan, commissioned by the city and now being executed by the Austin office of ROMA Design Group. Early concepts and soft recommendations developed in Phase One (which stops at defining issues and opportunities) began a community review this week..."
"...The extended debate, during the March 22 Council meeting, over a largely symbolic resolution to confirm the funding of 12 already authorized new police officer positions, was a case in point. Nobody on the dais actually opposed the funding, though some members thought it jumped the gun on formal budget planning..."
"...Those are the people I'm hearing from. And yes, I listen to every single person who calls me, whether they agree with the plan or not, but ....."
"...Mayor Steve Adler was quick to declare unofficial victory Tuesday night at an already boisterous Lavaca Street Bar, a few minutes after the release of the early voting returns. He told reporters, "I'm excited, and now the work begins," noting that the early vote lead, just shy of 60% approval by what appeared to be at least two-thirds of likely voters, would be "pretty hard for the remainder of votes to reverse." (Indeed, E-Day turned out to comprise just 25% of the total vote, and scarcely changed the overall result.) He added, "We need everybody involved and watching" the implementation of the bond, and said that while that happens, the city would be simultaneously working with "regional partners" like CAMPO and other agencies to put together an "overall strategic plan" on transportation..."
"...Crawling toward Downtown last week in 8:30am bumper-to-bumper traffic backed up for blocks on South Lamar, I had plenty of leisure time to reflect on transportation planning in Austin (and to wish I were traveling by bicycle, streetcar, or helicopter). The city is poised to plunge into the rail-transit business – with its central-city circulator Austin Urban Rail project – yet has barely dipped a toe into the transit-oriented development business..."
"...In response to my last blog post, noting that council members failed to ask about the climate protection qualifications of finalist consultant teams for the city's new Strategic Mobility Plan, Austin Department of Transportation Director Robert Spillar e-mailed to clarify the importance of climate protection and sustainability...."