Public Notice: Planning Is Doing
Eastside wins, Council struggles
By Nick Barbaro, Fri., June 12, 2015
For all the talk this week about property tax exemptions, the planning agendas are where the action is.
It started at the Planning Commission Tuesday night with a couple of apparent wins for the near-Eastside neighborhoods: denials of both a proposed hotel on East Cesar Chavez (see "Eastside Hotel Denied at Planning Commission"), and a Conditional Use Permit application which Springdale Farms had expected would allow them to continue to put on regular events at their property. Commission votes are only advisory, of course, and both decisions could be appealed, but it's unclear at this point whether either party has the stomach for that kind of fight.
Then there's City Council. This is their week to concentrate on zoning cases, a couple of which are thorny (see "Council") but also on today's agenda is a very early look at the proposed The Grove at Shoal Creek Planned Unit Development, a 75.74 acre mixed-use project to be located on the former state land at Bull Creek Road and 45th Street. There's no action at this point, but neighbors are starting to sniff around, kick the tires, and bone up on the complex mathematics of drainage, impervious cover, and traffic impact analysis. "City staff will continue their review," says the preview from city staff "and the PUD will be presented to City Council for final approval at a later date." They make it sound so simple.
The Council's Planning and Neighborhoods Committee has a brief, but heavy, agenda for their Monday, June 15, meeting (1pm at City Hall): they'll consider amendments to City Code regarding accessory dwelling units; a resolution affirming Approach 2.5 of CodeNEXT, the massive Land Development Code rewrite; and "recommendations on short-term rental regulations and enforcement." The ADU issue would seem to be fairly simple: the Planning Commission's recommendation, adopted unanimously, would reduce building and entrance setbacks, eliminate driveway requirements, apply the ordinance citywide (overriding neighborhood plans and other restrictions), and, notably, prohibit the units' use as "Type 2" commercial short-term rentals (i.e., the ones used purely as STRs and owned by absentee landlords). But it's this last use regulation that has apparently most raised the hackles of the "new urban" opposition that seems to be fronting for RECA and the Board of Realtors, so expect some barking. (And on that subject, CM Sheri Gallo will hold a press conference the morning this issue comes out, to announce a resolution she's sponsoring, asking the city manager to "investigate issues and citizen complaints related to the City's ability to properly enforce City Code as it relates to the operations of short-term rentals," and to report back to Council by Aug. 13 on whether there are "gaps within City policy that require City Council action.")
Not to be outdone, the Zoning and Platting Commission meets the next day, Tuesday, June 16 (6pm, Council Chambers), to hear the latest pitch for the Austin Oaks PUD, a proposed massive development at Spicewood Springs and MoPac – scaled back since it was first spitballed a year ago, but still way out of line with neighborhood plans, and with the Imagine Austin plan. Expect developers' rep Steve Drenner to trot out results of a recent push poll reportedly targeted to residents in Tarrytown, Balcones, and Northwest Hills.
And, while we're at it, how's that city planning department reorg coming?
The Travis County Commissioners Court will receive a staff briefing on the implementation of the county's Land, Water & Transportation Plan (LWTP), this Thursday, June 11, 1:30pm, at the Travis County Admin. Bldg., 700 Lavaca. You can watch the session live at: www.traviscountyclerk.org/eclerk, and see the adopted LWTP at: www.traviscountytx.gov/tnr/lwtp.
Free Summer Concerts at Local Libraries: The Austin Public Library is doing its part to support the local music scene this summer. Book Your Summer kicks off this weekend with Jesse Sublett's book discussion, signing, and musical performance, at 2pm Saturday, June 13, and Bill Callahan in Concert 3pm Sunday, June 14, both at Faulk Central Library, 800 Guadalupe.
In the Shadow of the Dome: Slave Life in Austin, Texas is a presentation on slave life and emancipation, as evidenced in the Travis County Slave Narratives recorded in the 1930s. 7pm Tuesday, June 16 at the Austin History Center, 810 Guadalupe. This is the last in a series of programs related to AHC's current exhibit, "Divided City: Civil War & Reconstruction in Austin," which runs until June 21. www.austinhistorycenter.org.
Flag Day! Austin vexillologist Jim Ellinger leads the 22nd annual "flag-friendly parade and party" to "celebrate this largely forgotten holiday." Sunday, June 14 starting at 2pm at the corner of 45th & Duval, in front of the Flag Store. Free flagpoles and loaner flags for those without.
CM Sheri Gallo hosts a District 10 Town Hall on Zoning Saturday, June 13, from 1-3pm, at the Austin Board of Realtors building at 4800 Spicewood Springs Rd. She's invited City of Austin staff to make presentations and answer questions from constituents.
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