Welcome to the South River City Citizens!

NOTE: We will NOT have a meeting in July! Our next meeting will be on Monday, August 1 starting at 7:15pm at Life in the City United Methodist Church (formerly Grace UMC) at 205 East Monroe St. All are welcome!

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Neighborhood concerns about St. Edward’s University plans for new operations building

At the August general meeting, SRCC Area Coordinator Elloa Mathews gave a presentation about St. Edward’s University’s plans to build a new operations building on St. Edward’s Drive. Their plans for an operations building include having truck deliveries on St. Edward’s Drive, both box-type smaller delivery trucks and full sized 18-wheel semi tractor trailers. Nearby neighbors have serious concerns about the effects of this heavy truck traffic in an entirely residential neighborhood (Sherwood Oaks). Here is some background information on the issue:

Earlier this year, the university announced plans to build a new building but it was unclear what exact uses the building would have. In March, SRCC received a notice from the city that plans were filed, stating that it would be a general operations building encompassing many uses such as police, purchasing, and receiving. We requested more information/a meeting with administrators at St. Ed’s, and explaining our concerns about traffic and public safety on St. Edwards Drive, and received only cursory emails containing statements such as “There will be no new additional traffic resulting from these projects being completed.”

At the beginning of June, neighbors discovered that the bonds for this and other construction would have to go through the city council. Ms. Mathews requested a vote of the EC on June 7 to leverage this opportunity by asking the city council for help with encouraging the university to respond to our concerns. The EC voted on June 8 to send a letter to council. The text of the letter can be read here. The letter did successfully get everyone’s attention and a meeting was quickly scheduled between various neighbors and representatives from the university for June 13, at which the neighbors explained their concerns over traffic and safety on St. Edward’s Drive. At no point during the meeting did the representatives indicate that the building they have planned will be increasing traffic and introducing large truck traffic to the neighborhood. After the meeting, we discovered that the university knew all along that they would be having truck deliveries to the new building, and had requested a Right-of-Way (ROW) waiver from the city so that they could use the dead-end of St. Edwards Drive for the large trucks to turn around (because the site cannot accommodate turn-arounds). A copy of their letter requesting the waiver can be found here.

Following the June 13 meeting, SRCC President Gretchen Otto wrote a letter to the university, describing in detail all of the neighbor’s concerns about traffic and safety on St. Edward’s Drive and giving suggestions for specific things the university could do to help alleviate the negative effects. A copy of this letter can be accessed here.

After many repeated attempts to find out more information from the city, without receiving any help, neighbors were becoming increasingly concerned about the situation. As more and more people found out about the plans, opposition grew during July. When Ms. Mathews gave her presentation at the August 1 general meeting, the members voted to pass a resolution stating our opposition to having such a large commercial operation right in the heart of Sherwood Oaks. Here is the text of the resolution:

***
Whereas, St. Edwards University is made up of 160 acres, and

Whereas, the St. Edwards campus is bound on its west, south and east sides by commercial corridors including IH35, Woodward Street and Congress Avenue, which is a state highway, and

Whereas, the north side of the campus is the Sherwood Oaks neighborhood, a close knit community of only 250 single family residentially zoned houses and duplexes, and

Whereas, this boundary between the neighborhood and the campus currently only houses sports fields which impose no commercial use on the neighborhood, and

Whereas, the neighborhood is inhabited by original homeowners in their 80’s and 90’s including several WWII veterans and Purple Heart recipients and their widows who walk and wish to remain mobile, and

Whereas, many families with children and new babies, one as young as eight weeks old, ride their bikes and walk their dogs on St. Edwards Dr. identified by the City of Austin as sidewalk deficient, and

Whereas, these residents currently find overflow parking from the University on St. Edwards Dr. to block their field of vision for exiting their own neighborhood streets creating dangerous traffic conditions, and

Whereas, the proposed operations building on St. Edwards Drive will introduce 18 wheel trucks into the Sherwood Oaks neighborhood that previously had no reason to be in Sherwood Oaks, and

Whereas, the introduction of this commercial use in our residential neighborhood sets a precedent that the university can use for future expansion, and

Whereas, the university has a multitude of acres of land on commercial corridors on which to place its operations building so as not to create an unsafe environment for its taxpaying neighbors so,

Be it resolved that the South River City Citizens neighborhood association opposes St. Edwards University’s attempt to use our residential neighborhood for commercial operations.

Approved by SRCC August 1, 2016
***

Neighbors did finally secure a meeting with city staff on August 5, as well as another meeting with St. Edward’s staff. More information covering these meetings and next steps will be posted soon.

Posted in General, Planning & Zoning, Sherwood Oaks, Transportation & Public Safety | 1 Comment

ANC General Meeting Summary – 7.27.16

Saundra Kirk came to speak about “Embracing America’s Melting Pot.” She provided a perspective on the events in Dallas and how they pertain to race relations in Austin.  She talked about the gradual dissolution of the “melting pot” ideal of 30 years ago – and that it is unfortunate.  She discussed the need to overcome the tacit forms of racism (e.g. affordability of housing, economic opportunity, improved policing practices).

Paul Cruz superintendent of the AISD came to give a “Back to School” update. Graduation rates in the AISD are now up to 86% from the mid-70s.  Persistence rate, once students get in to college is 92%.  Performance on SAT/ACT higher than the Texas average.  60% of students are in poverty but Austin has the highest rate of “recapture” of funds that are reallocated to the state revenue fund.  Austin only keeps 45 cents of every dollar that is collected for property taxes.

Greg Guernsey is the Director of the Planning and Zoning Department.  He came to speak about the CodeNEXT process.  He emphasized the importance of prescription papers as a means to get feedback from the community.  The plan will come out in January, 2017.  The code will have 2 parts, the text and the map.  Most residents are concerned with the map as that is where the real effect of the code will be seen.  He was asked if neighborhood plans will be respected as per Imagine Austin – and responded pretty categorically that they will probably not fully implement neighborhood plans in the new code.

Bill Aleshire is a Government Transparency Activist that came to speak about “Better Transparency in Government”.   He cited one of the biggest problems now is record retention.  Many local and state offices are deleting emails and disposing of records which prevents proper oversight.   For instance, Greg Abbot’s office deletes emails every 30 days.  Under the Texas Public Information act, officials are able to keep communications off “on the side” like personal email accounts and the public can’t get access.

Fred Lewis who serves came to speak about CodeNEXT and the “prescription paper” for affordability.  He directly refuted the fact that anything about CodeNEXT will help low income people.  82,000 households in Austin make 32K a year or less and are renters.  Of the 5 goals in the prescription paper, none of them address affordability.  He states clearly, no land use code can create affordability because only 5% of low income people can actually pay for what the market provides. Areas that have more restrictive land use codes have more affordable housing.   It’s because they have government programs for affordable housing.  Austin has a “density bonus program” that produced 1100 units and $4.8 million.  Half of these were in W. Campus for students.  Only 220 of the other units were affordable to low income residents.  These are mostly market-rate efficiencies that are unsuitable to families.

Two resolutions were proposed:

  • Resolution on Department of Neighborhoods in consideration of the fact that the city does not have an effective outreach program to neighborhoods and neighborhood organizations and the pending changes to land use, the resolution proposes to:
    • Consolidate existing neighborhood resources into a Department of Neighborhoods.
    • Add more advisors to ensure consistent outreach to neighborhoods.
  • Resolution on Affordable Housing cited that current policies like the “density bonus program” have failed to meet affordable housing goals. Tshe resolution proposes:
    • Linkage fees on all new construction to pay for infrastructure, monitoring of affordable housing outcomes, and affordable housing for displaced low-income residents.
    • Require a supermajority of city council before approving rezoning cases that will displace low income families.
    • Preserve existing affordable housing through better inspection and enforcement.

 

 

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SRCC General Membership Meeting Agenda – August 2016

SRCC GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Monday, August 1, 2016 7:15 PM
LIFE IN THE CITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
(formerly Grace UMC)
205 E. Monroe, Austin, Texas

AGENDA
To be sure you get a vote, become a member. You can join or renew online www.srccatx.org. Not sure if you are current? Email membership@srccatx.org and we’ll let you know.

CALL TO ORDER/APPROVAL OF MINUTES
1. 7:15 Meeting procedures, etiquette, welcome newcomers. Verification of quorum. Reminder: state your name when presenting or seconding a motion. If an acronym is stated during the meeting and you don’t know what it means, please feel free to raise your hand and ask.*
Presenter throughout: Sounthaly Outhavong, SRCC Immediate Past President, unless otherwise noted. (5 min)

2. 7:20 Membership and voting. Pay multiple years in advance and get a discount. Single membership: 1-yr $20; 2-yr $35; 3-yr $50 / Family membership: 1-yr $35; 2-yr $65; 3-yr $95 NOTE: In order to vote, dues must be paid a month in advance, with the exception that if a former member’s dues have lapsed no more than 2 years, they may renew at the meeting and be eligible to vote. (2 min)

3. 7:22 Approve minutes from June 6, 2016 monthly general meetings (available at www.srccatx.org). (3 min)

4. 7:25 Treasurer’s Report – see attachment to agenda distributed at the meeting; all reports are available upon
request to the Treasurer. Presenter: Nancy Byrd, Treasurer (5 min)

5. 7:30 Committee Chairs reports
1) Parks, Schools, Environment; 2) Planning & Zoning; 3) Transportation & Public Safety; 4) Norwood; 5) Historic District; 6) Finance; 7) ANC*; 8) Communications; 9) CodeNEXT (10 min)

OLD BUSINESS
none

NEW BUSINESS
7. 7:40 Diane Presti is moving and is stepping down as Vice President effective Sept. 5. Please email Gretchen (president@srccatx.org) if you would like to volunteer or nominate someone.
Presenter: Sounthaly Outhavong (5 min)

8. 7:45 Presentation about St. Edward’s University plan to build operations building on St. Edward’s Drive and related traffic issues (POSSIBLE VOTE)
Presenter: Elloa Matthews, SRCC Area 5 Co-Coordinator (10 + 5 min Q&A)

8:00 GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS
Presenter: Sounthaly Outhavong
–VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! We need volunteers for several open positions: Vice President, neighborhood watch program organizer, Special Events Chair to organize the July 4 picnic, a new Communications Chair, and a Newsletter Editor.
–The public is invited to join VisionZero ATX for an open community meeting to discuss traffic safety in Austin. Wednesday, August 10, 6-8pm, 800 Brazos Street, 4th Floor
–Austin Monitor discount: SRCC16 for 20% off subscription

Account reconciliation, Profit & Loss and Balance reports available upon request from treasurer@srccatx.org or financecommittee@srccatx.org

*Frequently used acronyms: ACF: Austin Community Fund; ANC: Austin Neighborhood Council; SF: Single Family zoning category; FLUM: Future Land Use Map; GSRC NPCT: Greater South River City Neighborhood Planning Contact Team, NCCD: Neighborhood Conservation Combining District

Agenda Prepared by Gretchen Otto, president@srccatx.org

Agenda subject to change. Please check www.srccatx.org for most updated version.

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Parkland Dedication Fees Rule Change

The E. Riverside/Oltorf Combined Neighborhood Planning Area, EROC (which includes SRCC Areas 6 & 7 and Heritage Oaks Park), needs your help to save our Parkland Dedication Fees. (Most of EROC is a designated Parkland Deficient Area.) Comments deadline is Aug. 1st. Comment online at: http://austintexas.gov/parkland-dedication-rules-review. A complete set of the rules is also available at this link. Please email Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo also at: kathie.tovo@austintexas.gov

Paragraph 4.3.11(B)(2) Use and Expenditure of Parkland Fees, if approved, will allow fees collected from new development to be taken from Parkland Deficient Areas and spent elsewhere. Currently, the fees collected are required to be spent within a half mile of the new development to purchase land in Parkland Deficient Areas. If there are no properties within that half mile radius that meet the Parks Dept.’s criteria for parkland (large parcels of land that is inexpensive and flat), the funds can be shifted to other areas.

Under the proposed rules, (B)(2) is the first option if no land is available for purchase. The last option, section (B)(4), is to use the funds to improve an existing park within the applicable Parkland Service Area. If no appropriate land is available for purchase, Subsection (B)(4) should be the first option, not the last.

The problem with (B)(2), especially for the Riverside NPA in which Heritage Oaks Park is located, is that there are no available tracts left that fit the Parks Dept.’s criteria. So much for the community benefits EROC was promised in return for all that additional density developers were given through the EROC Neighborhood Planning process and the E. Riverside Corridor Plan.

When there is no land available within EROC’s Parkland Deficient Areas, those funds should be spent on improving what few park amenities we do have. Last year we had to fight to keep Mabel Davis Pool open – which is the only public swimming pool within EROC’s 3,300+ acres. Parks Dept. wanted to close it due to the cost of needed repairs.

Thank you for your consideration.

Toni House
SRCC and EROC NPCT Member

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East Riverside Drive Corridor Improvements at Lakeshore Blvd.

The City of Austin Public Works Department and Austin Transportation will begin construction at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Lakeshore Boulevard in July as part of the Riverside Drive Corridor Improvements Project. This project is fully funded and the contractor has been hired. The existing intersection will be transformed into a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly public space addressing multi-modal transportation issues with the addition of wider sidewalks, ADA accessible ramps and bicycle lanes. Work will also include the installation of rain gardens to improve water quality. In order to provide for safe crossing of Riverside by pedestrians and cyclists, there will be a traffic light installed to stop eastbound traffic on Riverside. 10-foot-wide crosswalks will be installed.

Once complete, the intersection of Riverside Drive and Lakeshore Boulevard will have improved mobility and safety for motorized vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. The project is expected to be finished in early spring of 2017. More more information:
https://austintexas.gov/department/e-riverside-drive-corridor-improvements-lakeshore-boulevard

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