Planning Commission held two more special called meetings this Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 11-12, hammering out myriad proposed amendments to the draft Land Development Code rewrite, and passing its official recommendations at the end. As has been the case with each draft the PC has been tasked with reviewing (see "Public Notice," 2016-2019), it's been a rush job, and no one believes the work is complete, but they've done what Council has directed.
There's been growing discussion of the lack of testing and modeling that's been done on the code; the one Public Testing event last month seemed to barely scratch the surface ("Public Notice: The Planning Stages," Oct. 25), and there's been little time or effort in that direction since. Staff is understandably swamped – answering questions from all directions, participating in almost-daily commission and Council meetings, tracking and responding to proposed amendments from PC and elsewhere, along with the ones they've identified internally – while other parties are still working through the code and just starting to think about the what-ifs. No less a non-NIMBY personage than developers' rep Ron Thrower expressed as much to PC during citizen communication, noting that AIA Austin and others had not yet had a chance to do the modeling that was a significant part of the CodeNEXT process. (Some modeling is being done; check out what Austin architect Chris Allen and real estate/development expert Gina Allen are posting at austinupzoned.blogspot.com.*)
Others focused on the cookie-cutter approach to mapping, especially around corridors and their transition areas, arguing that a decision matrix is no substitute for the small-area planning that could be done, or that already exists, for many of these areas. When Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido brought an amendment to "Provide sufficient time to do adequate planning in transition areas and make corrections and adjustments before adopting the new LDC and maps," Commissioner James Shieh – a Mayor Steve Adler appointee, and hardly a no-growther – lamented the lack of planning that's gone into the current process, saying that because "we are the Planning Commission, [people think] 'you guys are planning,' but no, we're not. We're trying to go through the pieces of the code to see what we can put together to be able to start having a concept of how to plan." He was asking for time, somewhere in the process, for actual planning: the process of looking at an area, its existing state and its relation to the city as a whole, and actually planning what zoning categories ought to be applied where. After a good bit more discussion, commissioners nixed that concept, 4-8.
Next week: What it's going to cost you.
The Fourth Annual Return and Discover Festival takes place 11am-4pm this Saturday, Nov. 16, at and around the intersection of 12th and Chicon, where Eastside Community Church will host a screening of the documentary Reflections on a Legacy, plus a panel discussion and live music, and out in the street there are carnival games, a petting zoo, and the inaugural City Official Dunking Booth with surprise guests. It's also open-house day for East 12th Business District merchants and businesses; pick up your East 12th Street Scavenger Hunt map to explore the corridor from I-35 to Airport Boulevard.
The Joint Music and Arts Commission Working Group shares its recommendations on how to use the $12 million Creative Space Bond funds, this Sat., Nov. 16, 11am, at the Economic Development Offices, 5202 E. Ben White #400. We're close to the end of this process; staff plans to deliver final recommendations to City Council after this meeting.
America Recycles Day is this Fri., Nov. 15, and Austin Resource Recovery wants you to know that contamination in the recycling stream is bad, and "tanglers" are especially bad. Don't try to recycle items such as plastic bags, garden hoses, textiles, rope, and other flexible and/or stretchy materials, which clog the machinery and create safety hazards. Other worst offenders: food, Styrofoam, and wood. You've been warned. If in doubt, search the "What Do I Do With..." tool at AustinRecycles.com.
Barksgiving Pawty! Join BarkHappy and Emancipet, Sunday, Nov. 17, noon-2pm at Container Bar, 90 Rainey St. Drink specials, pet treats, and more; well-behaved dogs on leashes welcome; $18, benefiting Emancipet's mission of making veterinary care affordable and accessible to all pet owners.
The Rags to Wags Gala is Sat., Nov. 16, 6:30pm at the Hyatt Downtown. Advance tickets are off sale at press time, but the after-hours VIP party is still open. www.ahsragstowags.org.
* This story originally referred to "architects Chris and Gina Allen," but although the two “run a little mom and pop architecture practice,” Gina Allen is not an architect, but a real estate/development expert. My apologies for the mistake. – N.B.
Copyright © 2023 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.