SRCC Meeting Minutes–December 2019

Minutes
SRCC GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING  (www.srccatx.org)
Monday, December 2, 2019     7:15 PM
LIFE IN THE CITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH (formerly Grace UMC)
205 E. MONROE, AUSTIN, TEXAS

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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: Dan Fredine, SRCC Vice President, vicepresident@srccatx.org, unless otherwise noted.

The meeting was called to order at 7:22 pm. The SRCC president is out and will be back soon.  The VP reminded everyone of the procedures and etiquette of meetings. Several neighbors introduced themselves and told us where they live in the ‘hood.

2.  7:23  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 or make motions, 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.

3.  7:25  Treasurer’s Report – see reverse of agenda. All reports available upon request to the Treasurer treasurer@srccatx.org  

Presenter: Oliver Caruso (Treasurer)

The Treasurer shared the amount of income and expenses for the past month and the current balance in the account.  He displayed a graph showing balance, income and expenses for the year (a bar graph, with a bar for each month.) For details, email him at treasurer@srccatx.org

COMMITTEE REPORTS

4.  7:30  Committee Chairs reports

1) Planning and Zoning–see item below; 2) Historic Preservation; 3) Finance; 4) Mobility; 5) Public Safety;  6) Parks and Environment–see item below; 7) Schools; 8) Communications; 9) Executive Committee–see item below; 10) Land Development Code Rewrite ad hoc committee –see item below

Representatives: 11) ANC*; 12) SCC*; 13) South Central Waterfront–see item below; 14) St. Edward’s; 15) S. Central Affordable CDC

  • Planning & Zoning—Nothing to report
  • Historic Preservation—Nothing to report.
  • Finance—Nothing to report.
  • Mobility—A neighbor shared information about Project Connect and a ”virtual open house” where you can input your feedback.  They will be accepting submissions until Dec. 6th.  Here is the link:  https://www.capmetroengage.org/en/engagement-initiatives/project-connect-metrorapid-virtual-open-house
  • Public Safety—The Chair of Public Safety shared that there have been a rash of break-ins.  At one home, cameras recorded 4 men stealing a car and jewelry that was hidden bedroom while the residents were out of town.  They got in and out in 10 minutes, and the police think it was all planned. The Chair suggested that we leave our lights on and practice safety measures.  He said that we still need volunteers for the Neighborhood Watch patrol. The impact of having residents drive sporadically with noticeable magnetic signs “Neighborhood Patrol” on the doors is proven to be a deterrent.  It is so easy and only takes an hour per month. Contact Tom Groce tgroce71@gmail.com
  • Parks and Environment—A representative from the committee shared that camps have been removed at Heritage Oaks Park and a clean-up has been made.  A walking path encircling the pond will be installed on MLK Day, Monday, January 20th, by the Texas Conservation Corps and Keep Austin Beautiful.  They will need volunteers to join them. Big boulders will be installed across the stream.  Austin Watershed Protection says that they will most likely be able to install the rock hop in February.
  • There was a ribbon-cutting on November 23rd for the recent improvements at Little Stacy Park as well as a “This is your park.  This is my park” sing along by SRCC’s own guitar toting Jason Molin.
  • There is concern that the code rewrite will undermine the Parkland Dedication ordinance, undercutting park purchases in corridors and reducing PARD leverage with developers on in-lieu of contributions vs. direct park land set-asides.  Austin Parks Foundation is leading the opposition: https://austinparks.org/advocate.
  • Schools—The Chair of the Schools Committee shared information about a fundraiser that was held to support Project-Based-Learning training for teachers at Travis Heights Elementary.  She shared that the fundraiser was held at Café No Sé, who donated all of the food, wine and the location for the event. The school raised $12K. In order to fully fund the teacher training, the school is in need of $15K.  You can donate at THES Donate. This Wednesday is the annual Tamalada at the elementary school, and the tamales will be sold on Saturday during the Cultural Festival from 10 am-12 am.  They will also hold a Prospective Tour on Friday the 10th of Dec.
  • Lively Middle School  wants everyone to know that there is a Middle School Choice fair for students and their parents interested in finding out about their choices for Middle School  You can find details here: https://www.austinisd.org/calendar/events/2019/12/07/middle-school-fair-2019
  • Communication—The Communications Chair shared that the website has been updated frequently regarding with news that might be of interest, in particular events and information concerning the change in land code.  Anyone wanting to contribute an article for the SRCC newsletter needs to get their submissions in by the end of December, to Getchen Otto at newsletter@srccatx.org.
  • Executive Committee—Does not meet in November or December, so there is nothing to report.
  • Land Development Re-Write Committee—The Chair shared that the committee submitted over 60 maps with feedback, which is what the City had asked for.  In addition, there will be a meeting with the mayor, SRCC and BCNA (Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association) to ask questions that are very specific to our area.  That meeting occurs this Friday, Dec. 6th at 5:30 pm at City Hall.  On Dec. 7th, the following Saturday, we have an opportunity to give feedback to the Council. That session begins at 10 a.m.  The chair suggested that those who show up on the 6th will be at City Hall, so they can sign up that night for the talk on Saturday. This will help us present our concerns in an organized way.
  • ANC—No updates.  There were no meetings for November or December.
  • SCC—Nothing to report.
  • South Central Waterfront—Nothing to report

5.  7:50  Approve minutes from the November 4, 2019 monthly general meeting (available at www.srccatx.org)

MOTION:  Betty Weed/Vicky Moerbe  To approve the minutes from the November 4, 2019, general membership meeting.  Agree: 30, Opposed: 0, Abstain: 0 PASSED.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

6.  7:55  SRCC is considering changing the location for the General Membership meetings from Life in the City to Good Shepherd on the Hill (1700 Woodland), and changing the meetings to be the third Tuesday of the month at 7pm. This issue was discussed at the October and November General Membership meetings and feedback was generally positive. Discussion with and input from the membership is being solicited on the proposed changes; on November 13th a survey was sent via email to those who receive the SRCC Monthly Update emails.  

Link to the survey and details about the proposed changes.

Presenter: Dan Fredine

The VP shared that we are considering changing the location and date of the General Membership meetings. An issue came up last month about a conflict with the proposed day so we are now considering the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7pm.  An online survey was sent out and the President will share the data collected from that survey  when he returns. If you haven’t provided feedback, you can find the survey on the SRCC website (also see link above), or you can email president@srccatx.org your thoughts.  If things look positive in the collected data, we plan on voting on the change in February. For the  annual meeting (in March) there is a consistent conflict with the potluck at our current location, so we are attempting to make a reservation at the Good Shepherd on the Hill. The exact location will be announced by January.  A neighbor asked why we are considering the change. The VP shared these advantages of the new location:

  • Parking
  • Accessibility
  • Scheduling
  • Availability of audio-visual equipment  
  • Acoustics
  • Seating is more comfortable

7.  8:05  The City released the draft of the Land Development Code Rewrite (LDCR) on October 4th. Serious concerns remain about the impact of the proposed changes to the SRCC neighborhood and the rest of Austin. Community not Commodity has been working to protect neighborhoods from some of the potential negative impacts of the LDCR. 

Link to renderings of what could potentially be built on individual lots.

Link to file a rezoning protest.

Presenter: Barbara McArthur, Community Not Commodity, mcabarney@gmail.com

Barbara McArthur is a volunteer with Community Not Commodity and her career is as a scientist.  She got involved with Community not Commodity because she lives on a small house on a large lot.  She is concerned that the LDCR is moving forward without input from citizens. She shared a slideshow to provide more information.  She encouraged everyone to file their protest. (There is a link on the SRCC.)  The organization she is involved with has hired lawyers to support the rights of owners. She pointed out that Austin is very different than other cities that are removing single family and duplex zoning.  Right now, before the passage of LDCR, Austin has considerably less single-family zoning than most major cities. She went through her slideshow and shared information about affordable housing, density in the “urban core”, preservation of heritage trees, preservation of historic buildings, accessory dwelling units, parking, how homes are used (only 50% of a building is required as a residence in many areas), location of businesses that serve alcohol, and multi-unit buildings.  Her slideshow illustrates how different new zones could look. In order to have more input, we need to protest so that we can ask for a review. A neighbor shared that speakers without prior experience speaking to the council can have a big impact when presenting to Council for the first time. State law provides owners the right to protest any zoning change of their property or a property within 200 feet of your property. There was consensus that SRCC is not opposed to growth, as that is happening. We want the growth to be well-planned, provide for affordable housing, considerate of owners’ rights, and shared equitably across the city.

8.  8:20  The City of Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP) program is commissioning a professional visual artist, or artist team, to design and fabricate mosaic artwork for the Little Stacy Neighborhood Park.  Artist James Edward Talbot has been commissioned by the City of Austin Art in Public Places Program to design artwork that creates a visible, aesthetically pleasing experience at the entrance of the park and draws inspiration from moments of play occurring within.  Talbot would like to meet Little Stacy’s nearby community and discuss the upcoming artwork!  

Presenter: Marjorie Flanagan, Art in Public Places Sr. Project Manager, marjorie.flanagan@austintexas.gov and James Talbot, Neverland Designs, talbot@talbotworld.com

Ms. Flanagan re-introduced herself.  She has attended a couple of meetings about artwork that is going to be installed as part of the improvements at Little Stacy.  She shared the goals that were determined at those prior meetings (with neighborhood input) and introduced James Talbot, the artist who will be working on that artwork.  He designed the structure that is on South Congress at Live Oak and contributed to the mosaic on Larry Monroe bridge. He shared some works in his portfolio and stated that this project is in the fledgling stage.  Three areas in the park are being considered for this installation. Ms. Flanagan shared that Mr. Talbot currently has art on display at the Wildflower Center as one of the installations of Fortlandia, if you want to see an example of his work.  The display at the Wildflower Center will be up until Jan. 10th.  A neighbor suggested that the work at Little Stacy be interactive (since the locations don’t lend themselves to climbing by children). Another neighbor asked for something reflecting the natural beauty of the park.  Mr. Talbot told us that his artwork tends to be organic, without sharp angles. Mr. Talbot sometimes gives tours of his home, Casa Neverlandia, on Monroe St. See this slideshow for more information. 

9.  8:30  The property that formerly housed the Austin-American Statesman (305 S. Congress), referred to as the Statesman PUD,  is being redeveloped as part of the South Central Waterfront. In September SRCC voted to recommend that Council not approve any new entitlements in the South Central Waterfront plan area until the Council has implemented regulatory and financial measures provide public benefits outlined in the South Central Waterfront Vision Plan. While this issue has not been resolved, the developer for 305 S. Congress is continuing to press forward, requesting an amendment to the FLUM to change the use at this site from Industrial to Mixed Use. The request is out of cycle for a project, and far exceeds the additional entitlements described in the South Central Waterfront Vision Plan with only a promise, rather than a guarantee of community benefit. In addition they are requesting a PUD amendment to modify permitted land uses and site development regulations. This will come before the Planning Commission on December 17th. [VOTE POSSIBLE] 

Link to SRCC Planning & Zoning PUD Amendment Topics sheet for 305 S Congress.

Presenter: Paula Kothmann, SRCC Mobility Committee Chair, paula.kothmann@gmail.com

The Mobility Chair shared that there has been a request for a change in zoning at this location that requires a change to the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) included in the Neighborhood Plan; this will go before Planning Commision on Dec. 17th .  Normally, the decision would wait until the normal review cycle in February. The Committee’s opinion is that the city has not fleshed out many details of the plan.  She said that it has not been analyzed to determine the impacts on our neighborhood. SRCC has already voted in opposition to any new development in the South Central Waterfront Plan Area until the SCW plan is fully implemented with financial framework [Sept 2019].  A neighbor shared that a financial framework hasn’t been finished by the city, but the developers seem to think the plan is finalized (only the “vision” has been passed by council). She shared some examples and details about the discrepancy. In our previous votes we’ve voted to approve the South Central Waterfront plan and we’ve voted to strenuously encourage the city to get the related financial framework in place before allowing any further development in the plan area [June 2019]. We have asked for the development be put on hold until some of the planning agreed to previously is in place.  In addition, the developers are planning to place the building in the 100 year flood plain and 25 year flood plain. Neighbors asked clarifying questions about the discrepancy with agreed-upon plans and the current requests. They asked how a protests can be made. Neighbors shared information about experiences with the Snoopy PUD in which a plan was put in place to get the financial framework done, but the city didn’t provide the budget or personnel to ensure that was possible. The result was that many of the items requested by the community were not provided. A neighbor encouraged neighbors to show up to the Planning Commission on Dec. 17th. Staff has indicated that they intend to ask for a postponement.

NEW BUSINESS 

10.  8:45 A variance has been requested for 303 Woodward, which would subdivide the existing lot and create a flag lot, and it was reviewed by the SRCC Planning and Zoning Committee. Apparently the 7 objections submitted by neighbors were not given to the Planning Commission before the hearing. We are following up with the City Staff about: 1) when a developer requires neighborhood support in order to obtain a variance; 2) when neighbors can request a hearing postponement; and 3) how to appeal a variance. Special note is that developers are seeking to aggregate lots in order to gain more flexibility. 

Link to the variance request. 

Presenter: Paula Kothmann, SRCC Planning & Zoning Committee, paula.kothmann@gmail.com

A neighbor shared that a new state law that allows less time for neighbors to protest variance requests regarding subdivision changes, even one requiring a flag lot.  In addition, those protests may not be presented to the planning commission by sending them to city workers. A person needs to be AT the meeting to verbally share the protest with the commission.  Ms. Kothman suggested that neighbors can help each other out. Collect your data immediately upon notification. (For example,measure trees and take pictures if they are over 19 inches). Get a neighbor to present to your protest to the commission if you can’t attend.

Here are the neighbor’s words:   Carol Gibbs, Neighborhood Advisor with the City of Austin Development Services Department shared the following regarding Planning Commission:  While this case was submitted under the “old” subdivision code, things dramatically changed for Subdivision cases on September 1, 2019 with the adoption of the new rules associated with the passage of State House Bill 3167. For subdivision cases submitted since 9/1/2019, there is now even less opportunity for opposed neighbors to stop a subdivision, even one that relies on a Flag Lot Variance such as this.  And there will be NO opportunities for postponements for any subdivision public hearings, by either the applicant or the opposition. Attendance at Public Hearings is absolutely critical, in order to have your position heard.  Someone needed to be signed in before the meeting started, and ready to speak to the Postponement request and/or to speak against the item, in order to keep it from getting approved on the Consent agenda. Even if Staff did turn in your written request for postponement, if the Chair had called you up to explain it (which they must do), there was apparently no one there to speak, so it would have gone back on Consent and been approved anyway.  Without any sign-in cards from attendees when a Board or Commission meeting begins, there is nothing to alert the Chair to pull an item from the Consent Agenda. Even if they had acknowledged your written comments, you still need to be present to elaborate on your points.

8:55   GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! We need volunteers for open positions including 
    • CO-VICE PRESIDENT
    • OUTREACH COMMITTEE MEMBERS/CHAIR
  • SRCC has restarted the NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH program, and is looking for participants. Anyone interested should contact Tom Groce, SRCC Public Safety Chair at tgroce71@gmail.com to get involved! 
  • Greater South River City Neighborhood Planning Contact Team members are stewards of our 2005         Neighborhood Plan. To join or for information, visit this page: 
  • http://www.srccatx.org/about/greater-south-river-city-neighborhood-plan/  Contact Terry Franz if interested: tmfranz@airmail.net
  • There will be a “Cooks and Crafters” fair from 10-3 this Saturday at the Church on the Hill.

*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; PUD: Planned Unit Development; SCC: South Central Coalition of NAs

Agenda Prepared by Dan Fredine, vicepresident@srccatx.org 

Minutes Prepared by Mary Friedman, secretary@srccatx.org

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