Public Notice: Your City at Work
“Shaping policy for generations to come”
"In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations."
– most common paraphrasing of the Iroquois Nation's Seventh Generation Principle
"The Austin Strategic Mobility Plan and Project Connect are working together to help shape transportation investment and policy in Central Texas for generations to come."
– City of Austin press release
If that's not enough reason to learn more about these plans, I don't know what is. The city of Austin and Capital Metro are jointly presenting this open house, "Traffic Jam! Taking It to the Streets," next Wed., March 28, from 4-8pm at the Austin Central Library, 710 W. Cesar Chavez, to explain what they're working on and to take feedback.
Cap Metro's Project Connect has had a bumpy road, since the 2014 Project Connect Central Corridor Study, which purported to define the 10 major transportation corridors in the central city, and led to that year's failed rail bond. Retooled since then, PC still "focuses specifically on high-capacity transit alternatives" such as rail and MetroRapid and MetroExpress bus services, along with possible long-range future investments. The draft plan is scheduled to be completed this year; by November, the project timeline promises, "a number of community-supported projects will be recommended to be built." Many wonder whether that will include another rail plan.
The city's Austin Strategic Mobility Plan isn't quite as far along, but a draft plan should be ready to present to boards and commissions later this year, for Council consideration next spring. Building on the corridor construction program funded in the 2016 bond, it'll be an action plan for all of the mobility goals in the Imagine Austin master plan. Ideally, the city would also want the ASMP to inform the CodeNEXT zoning considerations – a point that's been raised repeatedly by Council Member Ann Kitchen, chair of Council's Mobility Committee. But it doesn't appear that's going to happen, given the current timelines, unless Council once again uncouples the CodeNEXT mapping from the adoption of the code itself. For more info on the two plans, see www.austintexas.gov/asmp and www.projectconnect.com.
Meanwhile, it may not cover quite seven generations, but the CodeNEXT land development code rewrite is expected to regulate land use in the city for 50 years or more – certainly most of the way to the 22nd century – and it too is famously on track for consideration by City Council this year. Yet, though this is the effort currently most mired in controversy and uncertainty (see "Point Austin: In Search of a Plan, Not a Master Plan," March 23), with seemingly the most problems yet to be resolved (see "CodeNEXT: Frustrations Mount [Again]," March 23), it's the one Council thus far has very vocally insisted it wants to take up first – and preferably as soon as possible, warts and all.
So it was interesting watching this Tuesday's CodeNEXT environmental presentation being delivered back-to-back to City Council, then to the joint land use commissions. For one thing, it was clear that the commissioners knew the material a lot better, and were asking more relevant and incisive questions. No shame there: The CMs have a lot of other things to attend to, while their advisory commissions have been steeping in this minutia for a couple of years now. One only hopes their advice is being listened to. Because the other thing that seemed clear – especially after the commissioners returned to the matter later Tuesday evening – is that while Council is itching to get into serious policy issues such as affordability and displacement, their commissioners still have serious misgivings about the draft's underlying structure, consistency, language, and usability, and are questioning whether, at the end of this multi-year process, the product that sits before them is either fully functional, or an improvement on the current code. If it's not, that's a problem that could haunt our city for generations.
Meanwhile, the joint commissions will hear staff and consultants' presentation on the big red-meat issue, housing and affordability, next Tue., March 27, following the Planning Commission's 6pm consent agenda.
The city's Parks and Recreation Dept. is hosting the last of three public meetings on the Zilker Botanical Garden Master Plan. This one will include a tour of the garden with the planning team: Sat., March 24, 10am-noon at the garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd.