Public Notice: Plans for the Future
"Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." – D.D. Eisenhower
As if the swirl of fall festivals weren't enough to keep us busy – this weekend the Texas Book Fest goes head-to-head with the Texas Tribune Festival, among other things – the city is asking – nay, demanding – your attention to a number of legitimately major planning initiatives that are coming to a head. And with another dozen or so worthwhile civic events and fundraisers scheduled for the next few days, you'd best be making some plans of your own if you want to keep up.
Let's start with the planning plans:
The big kahuna of Austin planning efforts is the massive, sprawling CodeNEXT process, a multi-year, comprehensive rewrite of the city Land Development Code, intended to create a whole new set of development regulations that are in sync with both existing neighborhood plans and the city's Imagine Austin comprehensive plan. Staff and consultants have been working on this for years now, and they're just now getting to the point of having actual work product to unveil to an anxious public.
Actually, make that a small minority of anxious citizens, and a general public that's somewhere between oblivious and confused. A recent "sneak peek" event intended to explain the process and gauge public interest was sparsely attended, and the people who were there fell almost without exception into one of two groups: either real estate professionals for whom this is their livelihood, and they're fed up with the complications and vagaries of the current permit process, or aggrieved neighbors who've had some monstrosity built in their neighborhood, due to the loopholes and vagaries of the current permit process.
So the two stakeholder blocs hate each other, and they both hate the city. That's consensus of a sort, but it's not really what the planners are hoping for. Perhaps you can help define some middle ground at one of the interactive Community Walks the CodeNEXT team has scheduled over the next few weeks to explain what they see when they look at a planning area, to hear what citizens see – and would like to see – when they look at that same area, and to "tee up" the next step in the process, the CodeNEXT: Sound Check (Nov. 16-21), where the technical writers of the LDC will collaborate and "check their work" with each other, and against public expectations. The first of these walks is this Friday, Oct. 16, at 8am at the Crestview rail station, 6920 N. Lamar. The next two are 8am Wed., Oct. 21, at JuiceLand, 1900-A E. MLK, and 7:30am Thu., Oct. 22, at the H-E-B at 12860 Research Blvd. See more info at www.austintexas.gov/department/codenext.
Meanwhile, the city's Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Dept. wants your input too; their Walk the Talk: Tour and Panel Discussion of "Missing Middle" Housing in East Austin is a discussion and self-guided tour of "missing middle" housing types – such as duplexes, fourplexes, courtyard housing, and accessory dwelling units – in the Blackland and Cherrywood neighborhoods. It's Saturday, Oct. 17, starting at 1:30pm at Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd., where maps for the tour (easy walking or bicycling) will be available when the panel begins. More info at www.austintexas.gov/housing.
Earlier that day, the city Planning and Zoning Department holds a Neighborhood Plan Contact Team stakeholder meeting, 9am Sat., Oct. 17, to have some give and take on these somewhat controversial bodies, and for that matter the neighborhood plans they oversee, and other "small area plans" which the city has gone out of its way to create, in much detail, over the last decade or so, and which are now intended to be folded into the overarching Imagine Austin plan in some way. As the meeting notice notes, "Small area plans are an important tool to implement the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan. Small area plans (e.g. neighborhood plans, corridor plans, station area plans, etc.) provide more detailed visions for particular geographic areas and offer more detailed land use, infrastructure, and service recommendations than those included in Imagine Austin. The ... Organizational Assessment (aka the "Zucker Report") published in April 2015 recommended that the Comprehensive Planning Division establish a management plan for updating existing plans and creating new small area plans." Yet those plans are often under attack in the current push for density. What do you think about it?
Not to be outdone, the South Central Waterfront Initiative folks want you under the south side of the First Street Bridge the next morning, at 10am Sunday, Oct. 18, for a Photo Safari – part of the South Central Waterfront's Walkshop series, designed to help map out the Peoples' Guide to the area spanning from South First all the way east to near Travis Heights. See what's going on at www.austintexas.gov/waterfront.
With so much community engagement going on, don't you know the city is conducting a survey asking for feedback about the feedback it asks for in its surveys? The city's Task Force on Community Engagement has released a survey to gather public feedback on all aspects of engaging with the city. Go to www.speakupaustin.org/surveys/community-engagement-how-are-we-doing, to ... um ... tell them how they're doing.
A Little Less Talk, A Little More Action
The 41st annual Hyde Park Fire Station Festival is the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association's celebration of the historic Fire Station #9 with live music, games, refreshments, a Halloween costume parade, the McCallum High drum line, Hank the Chrondog, and more. Sunday, Oct. 18, 4-6pm at 43rd & Speedway (parade leaves from Shipe Park, 44th & Avenue G). Free.
HopeFest, in its 10th year, is a community festival for neighborhoods around Reagan High School, providing health and vision screenings, glasses for children, immunizations, health insurance, information about housing, employment, education, prenatal support, and more. Lunch, live music, and lots of kids' activities. Sat., Oct. 17, 9:30am-3pm at Reagan High. www.austinvoices.org/hopefest-14.
PARD's Urban Forestry Program and TreeFolks present an Arbor Day tree planting, 9am-1pm, Sat., Oct. 17, at Gus Garcia District Park, 1201 E. Rundberg, with more than 150 volunteers planting 80 native trees. www.austintexas.gov/department/urban-forestry; www.treefolks.org.
Sat., Oct. 17, is Public Safety Day in the parking lot in front of Lake Travis Elementary School in Lakeway. More than 16 agencies from Central Texas will show off "helicopters, police cars, motorcycles, ambulances, fire trucks, rescue boats, ATVs, horses, K-9s, wildland fire mitigation equipment, Smokey Bear, and more," from 10am-2pm. The press photo shows a toddler operating a bomb-defusing robot.
Health Care for All – Texas, advocates for Improved Medicare for All, will hold their annual state meeting on Sat., Oct. 17, noon-4:30pm, in the Community Room of the Wildflower Unitarian Church, 1314 E. Oltorf. Dr. Ed Weisbart, chair of the Missouri chapter and a national board member of Physicians for a National Health Program, will make the keynote presentation, "Health Care Reform 2.0: Beyond the ACA." www.hcfat.org.
Equal Justice Center 14th Anniversary Celebration Golf Tournament offers all the mini-golf you can play, BBQ from Franklin, beer from the Whip In, and locavore vegetarian curry from Cazamance. Thu., Oct. 22, 6:30-8:30pm at Peter Pan Mini-Golf, 207 Barton Springs Rd. $25, adult; $5, kids; $20, student; bottomless beer cup $10. www.equaljusticecenter.org.
Almost five months after the Memorial Day flood of Shoal Creek filled the Whole Earth Provision Co. on North Lamar with three feet of muddy water, the landmark store reopens this Saturday, Oct. 17, with a two-week celebration that focuses on giving back. During the Coming Home - Giving Back weekends of Oct. 17-18 and 24-25, Whole Earth will donate 5% of the Lamar store's sales to The Barnabas Connection Flood Relief for Wimberley, and 5% to the Shoal Creek Conservancy. Customers can also make donations and receive gratitude gifts, and enter drawings for $6,500 worth of prizes, including Yeti Coolers, a Stand-Up Paddle Board, a GoPro camera, camping equipment, clothing, and two giant stuffed animals from Melissa and Doug.
And Austin Resource Recovery celebrates the grand (re)opening of the Recycle & Reuse Drop-Off Center at 2514 Business Center Dr. – a one-stop merger of the Household Hazardous Waste Facility and the Resource Recovery Center, where residents can drop off a variety of hard-to-dispose-of items, and pick up items from the expanded reuse area. Come by the kickoff event 10am-noon on Saturday, Oct. 17, or see more info at www.austinrecycles.com.
The fourth annual ASPCA Mega Match-a-thon is the Austin Humane Society's largest adoption event of the year, this weekend at AHS and six partner locations. Adoption fees will be waived at all locations, and every adoption includes spay/neuter surgery, a leash and collar, ID tag, microchip, and vaccinations. It runs all day Sat.-Sun., Oct. 17-18, at AHS, 124 W. Anderson; Austin Animal Center, 7201 Levander Loop; Blue Cat Café, 95 Navasota; Petsmart Ohlen, 1628 Ohlen Rd.; Petsmart Parmer, 12901 N. I-35 #100; PetCo Arboretum, 9828 Great Hills Trail #100; and the Downtown Farmers' Market, Republic Square Park, 422 Guadalupe, Sat., 9am-1pm. There's a Mega Kick-Off Party at South Austin Brewery, 415 E. St. Elmo, on Friday, Oct. 16 from 5:30-10pm, with live music, drink specials, and adoptable pets. A line is expected to form early, so potential adopters are encouraged to arrive early in the day.
The Austin Animal Center will provide free rabies vaccinations from 8am-noon Saturday, Oct. 17, at Richard Moya Park, 10001 Burleson Rd. www.austinanimalcenter.org. And a reminder: AAC seeks volunteers for a number of positions; attend an orientation session Oct. 18, 22, 24, or 29; sign up online.
Who Reads This Stuff?
I ran across an interesting feature on Hyde Park in Saturday's "Homes" section in the American-Statesman, touting as the primary point of interest the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, "an actual military barracks, now a venue where you can learn more about the convicts who lived within the walls." If you're unfamiliar with this museum, that's because it's actually in Sydney, Australia. Author Noah Bradon's LinkedIn profile says he "construct[s] engaging advertorial content for Statesman Marketing," and that he can "produce error-free copy at a rate of 70+ words-per-minute."
And, because the Statesman apparently doesn't bother to vet its guest editorialists for conflict of interest, or acknowledge the same in its author IDs, let me recommend to you Wednesday's editorial on short-term rentals by one Pete Gilcrease, who asserts that commercial STRs are residential in nature although no one resides there, because they "are generating income as a rental property," cites at least two nonexistent "studies" and an industry-funded push-poll, but doesn't note that he makes his living operating multiple commercial STRs, and has founded two "neighborhood" organizations to advocate for them.
Sat., Oct. 17 is Public Safety Day in the parking lot in front of Lake Travis Elementary School in Lakeway. More than 16 agencies from Central Texas will show off “helicopters, police cars, motorcycles, ambulances, fire trucks, rescue boats, ATVs, horses, K-9s, wildland fire mitigation equipment, Smokey the Bear, and more,” from 10am-2pm. The press photo shows a toddler operating a bomb-defusing robot.
Health Care for All – Texas, advocates for Improved Medicare for All, will hold their annual state meeting on Sat., Oct. 17, noon-4:30pm, in the Community Room of the Wildflower Unitarian Church, 1314 E. Oltorf. Dr. Ed Weisbart, chair of the Missouri chapter and a national board member of Physicians for a National Health Program, will make the keynote presentation, “US Health Care Trends and Changes Toward Universal Comprehensive Coverage.” HCFAT.org.
Equal Justice Center 14th Anniversary Celebration Golf Tournament offers all the mini-golf you can play, BBQ from Franklin, beer from Whip In, and locavore vegetarian curry from Cazamance. Thu., Oct. 22, 6:30-8:30pm at Peter Pan Mini-Golf, 207 Barton Springs Rd. $25/adult; $5/kids; $20/student; bottomless beer cup $10. www.equaljusticecenter.org.