Public Notice: Making Better Plans

Code, even more NEXT

City staff released a timeline this week for the much-anticipated Land Development Code Revision. Generally, it shows "code development, including meeting w/ community" as ongoing from June through the end of the year, with "staff modeling & testing" in July and August. City Council work picks up in a few weeks with meetings of the Housing & Planning Committee on Aug. 13 and the Mobility Committee on Aug. 15, though it's not clear what those Council committees will be working on, because the public release of the draft code and map will be on Oct. 4, followed by an open house in mid-October and a revised staff report in late October. Meanwhile, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Oct. 26, and have about two weeks for "consideration"; similarly, Council will follow suit with a public hearing in mid-November, with consideration over the next couple of weeks before an early December consideration on first reading. Whew.

More intriguing are two continuous arrows on the timeline: "Public participation" continues throughout, while "code development, including meeting w/ community" began in June and also continues through the end of the process. However, despite City Manager Spencer Cronk's assurance that the code crafting won't be done "in a black box" this time around, there is no actual way for anyone to know what is being drafted – or what the new zoning categories will look like, let alone where they'll be applied – until well after the drafting and staff testing & modeling phases are completed. That's no small matter, since the last go-round produced a code draft that was full of errors, inconsistencies, and unintended consequences. Nor is it a matter of growth/no growth or urbanist/neighborhood conflict, because again, the last draft code, developed and written over a matter of years instead of weeks, contained surprises that were troublesome to observers and analysts of all developmental stripes.

For now, we can just cross our fingers and hope that lessons were learned and mistakes were rectified, so that on the morning of Oct. 4, when the whatever-it-is-that-isn't-a-black-box gets opened up, we won't be back where we started.

If you're curious about who's doing the work and, presumably, who you can go publicly participate with, the city also released a "Meet the Team" doc listing the three project leads – Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzales, the Transportation Department's Annick Beau­det, and Development Services' Brent Lloyd – along with some 39 other city staffers with different roles and lone consultant Peter Park, who has been part of the consultant team since 2013. See both documents with this story online.

Saying Hi to Some Old Friends

"Shoot Like a Grrrl: The Photography of Martha Grenon" is the new exhibit opening at SouthPop, the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture, this Sunday, July 28. Aside from being the Chronicle photo editor and art director in the paper's very early, formative days, "Grenon's music photojournalism from Austin's musical heyday is first rate. The exhibit features her candid shots of many of Austin's most prominent figures, behind-the-scenes at the Austin Music Awards and more." The opening party is 6-9pm Sunday, featuring live music from the Lissa Hat­ters­ley TripTrio and South Austin songwriter/armchair philosopher Ed Vizard. The exhibit is up through Oct. 6.

Martha Grenon’s Shoot Like a Grrrl

"Treat Me Like a Saturday Night: The Joe Ely Photo­graphs From the Cindy Light Collection" is the next exhibit at the Austin History Center. Over her more than 30-year career, Light has shot a lot for the Chronicle, among many other national and international publications: "Austin musicians such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Ely, and Doug Sahm as well as international acts such as Sting, Michael Jackson, and Paul McCartney." There's a reception at the AHC, 810 Guadalupe, at 6:30pm Tue., July 30 (with light refreshments), and the exhibit is up until Oct. 27.

Thorne Dreyer's 74th Birthday Bash celebrates this "pioneering '60s underground journalist and longtime Austin activist, editor of The Rag Blog, host of Rag Radio, and an editor at [New Journalism Project] Publishing" – a guy whose work and influence in Austin's counterculture media has now extended over more than half a century, from the days when The Rag first defined Austin weirdness, along with the whole concept of the underground press. The party is Thu., Aug. 1, 6-9:30pm, at the High Road on Dawson, 700 Dawson Rd., and benefits the New Jour­nalism Project. There'll be music by Sarah Sharp and Bruce Melton's Climate Change Band, and short reports on the border situation, Yosemite Park, and the NJP book project. "Pizza, birthday cake, books, T-shirts, and Hawaiian shirts will be available." More info at

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