SRCC General Membership Meeting Minutes – September 21, 2021

SRCC GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING  (www.srccatx.org)

Tuesday, September 21, 2021    7:00  PM

Zoom Meeting via

The Internet

MINUTES

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.

The Chair called the meeting to order at 7:00. The regular presiding officer (SRCC President, Cynthia Milne) and Secretary (Dan Fredine) were present.

CALL TO ORDER/COMMITTEE REPORTS/APPROVAL OF MINUTES

1.  7:00  Meeting procedures, Zoom tools, 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.*   This meeting may run longer than usual. 

Presenter throughout: Cynthia Milne, SRCC President, unless otherwise noted.  (8 min)

With the meeting scheduled to run later than usual, we will be sticking strictly to the agenda.

During the Q&A period on Prop A, send questions in chat directly to Betty Weed, and she will route them to the speakers.

During the Q&A period on IH35, send questions in chat directly to Mark Thompson, and he will route them to the speakers.

2.   7:08    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 no less than 2 days prior to the online meeting and be eligible to vote. Contact membership@srccatx.org to renew. (2 min)

3.  7:10  Treasurer’s Report. All reports available upon request to the Treasurer @ treasurer@srccatx.org 

Presenter: Will Andrews, Treasurer   (5 min)

The Treasurer’s Report was shared, YTD through August 31st. Income from membership dues, donations, and interest. Expenses for quickbooks, Travis Heights Art Trail ad, ANC dues, P.O. box. Overall net positive for the year. 

 4. 7:15   Reports of Committee Chairs

1) Planning and Zoning;   2) Historic Preservation;   3) Finance;  4) Mobility; 5) Public Safety;  6) Parks and Environment; 7) Schools; 8) Communications     (15 min TOTAL)

  1. Planning and Zoning: Russel appeared at the 200 Academy meeting.
  2. Historic Preservation: Nothing to report
  3. Finance: Nothing to report
  4. Mobility: Nothing to report – see later items
  5. Public Safety: There are a few neighborhood watch participants. Not much new to report.
  6. Parks and Environment: Nothing to report
  7. Schools: There have been a handful of positive Covid tests at elementary and middle, a few more at high school. No evidence of community spread. ANYONE can join PTA – do not need to be a parent (our schools are THES, Lively MS, and Travis HS): https://www.joinpta.org/.  Can also donate directly to the schools. 
  8. Communications: Nothing to report

Reports of Ad Hoc Committees & Representatives:

 9) Norwood   10) NPCT   11) EROC;  12) ANC;   13) SCC;  14) South Central Waterfront;  15) St. Edward’s;  16) S. Central Affordable CDC;   17) Land Development Code Rewrite Ad Hoc committee; 18)  Liaison to Foundation Communities Ad Hoc Committee 19) CapMetro Orange Line Project Team (10 min)

  1. Norwood House: Norwood got a green light from PARD. Construction documents and site plans are complete, awaiting a decision about a light rail stop of the Blue Line at the Norwood House. There was a question about whether SRCC wants to take a vote to support a stop at this location.
  2. NPCT: Opera house was open for 4 years with 3 owners, though it was a disaster for the neighborhood. Developer wants to open the house, adding a restaurant and bar, apartments, and build offices on top of the opera house. Traffic Analysis was done during COVID and while Academy was closed, and the Planning Commission felt like that was not a legitimate reflection of traffic concerns. The Planning Commission said for the developers and neighborhood to go back and try and work things out and come back in a month. A proposed compromise was to have a smaller venue, but the developer didn’t like that idea. Next Planning Commission meeting is Oct 12th.
  3. EROC: In the past we didn’t have a spot on the agenda for EROC. Toni House was the previous liaison, and she is moving. The SRCC President spoke with Malcolm Yeatts (EROC President) about the roles of SRCC and EROC, overlap, and coordination.
  4. ANC: ANC met Aug 25th. City staff presented information about permitting resources to citizens. There was discussion about how property taxes are determined. There is another meeting tomorrow (via Zoom).
  5. SCC: Main topic of the last meeting was about redistricting. The SCC sent a letter to the City requesting hybrid meetings (in person and virtual), since the emergency measure that allowed for virtual meetings has expired. We may want to have SRCC support this letter. SCC mostly consists of 4 neighborhood associations: SRCC, Dawson, Zilker, Bouldin.
  6. South Central Waterfront: Endeavor is pushing for Statesman PUD, and they want to amend the PUD to include increased heights. Main issues are they want to donate 6.7 acres along Lady Bird Lake, and want to add a beach and dock. There are concerns about the types of activities that will go on in those areas, and the bats, underground parking, water quality, and affordable housing (on-site versus fee-in-lieu). The SCWAB board has taken a pause until the project goes through some of the City boards. This project is within the SRCC boundaries.
  7. St. Edward’s: Nothing to report
  8. S. Central Affordable CDC: Developers provided funds intended for affordable housing, and the first project is completed. The CDC is awaiting additional funds from upcoming developments to fund future affordable projects. Mary Friedman has taken over the role of SRCC representative from Gretchen Otto. 
  9. Land Development Code Rewrite Ad Hoc committee: Nothing to report
  10. Liaison to Foundation Communities Ad Hoc Committee: This committee has been dissolved and will no longer appear on agendas.
  11. CapMetro Orange Line Project Team: This committee has been dissolved and will no longer appear on agendas.

5.   7:40  Approve minutes from the August 17, 2021 monthly general meeting (available at www.srccatx.org).  Reminder: Schedule for General Membership meetings: 3rd Tuesday of the month, 7:00pm -8:30pm. Location: teleconference during 2021 (eventually will return to Good Shepherd on the Hill). (5 min)

Remaining meeting dates in 2021:  EC Oct 5 (tentative); GM Oct 19;  GM Nov 16;  

EC Dec 7

There were no corrections or additions to the minutes, and are approved as posted.

Note: there will not be an Executive Committee meeting in October. 

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

None.  

NEW BUSINESS

6.   7:45   Proposition A will be on the Austin ballot for the November 2, 2021 election. Prop A would require the city to increase its budget for the Austin Police Department by nearly more than $600 million over the next 5 years. Speakers will discuss what this will mean for the city.  Presenter: Betty Weed, Chair Communications Committee  Guests: Ann Kitchen, Austin City Council Member for District 5, Bill Spelman, Former Austin City Council Member (20 min)

Kitchen: presented 2021 & 2022 budget highlights. Funded 2 cadet academies, and the possibility for a modified academy. In 2021 some of the funding for police was moved to other related categories (mental health, victim services, etc.). The funding was later returned to APD, due to legislation. Prop A has an estimated cost of $272M – $599M over 5 years. This cost is driven by requirement for two sworn officers per 1000 residents, full enrollment for cadet classes, mandatory continuing education, and additional compensation for special skills.

Currently APD is 38% of the City’s budget, and Prop A could make it as much as 48% of the budget. EMS is currently 9%, Fire 19%, Parks 9%, etc. The concern is that this would be an unfunded mandate, and would either result in reduction of other City services, or will need to get additional taxes (though there is a 3.5% revenue cap without public approval). 

Spellman: Listed some common justifications for the requested change – not enough police to deal with current workload, more officers are needed to deal with increase in crime. There was a discussion about how police workloads are measured (index crimes, other offenses, arrests). The number of calls to APD have been pretty steady since 1995, even though the population has increased. The number of index crimes (serious offenses) has gone down in Austin since 1995, other offenses are also down, and there are fewer arrests; all measured by total numbers, not per capita. In addition APD has 84% more sworn officers than there were in 1995.

There has been an increase in violent crime, both in 2020 and 2021. Similarly, homicide numbers are up in other major cities, as well as the rest of Texas, and in big US cities. This is presumably due to the pandemic. Homicides and aggravated assaults are up, but others are down, and overall the violent crime rate is down. There are other cities where the murder rate is up significantly, even while there is a large number of officers per population – this is not the solution. Several options were suggested for reducing the homicide rate without Proposition A.

Q&A:

  • What do the proponents say about the impact on the budget? The proponents say that they don’t think it will cost as much as projected, though the cost was developed by the City attorneys and CFO. When the City’s CFO spoke at the ANC meeting, he commented that this will have a large impact on the budget. 
  • Will this election be in 2021 or 2022? This is 2021, and is one of the only things on the ballot, and many people are not aware of this. There is also a Prop B, related to a parkland swap.

Important dates related to the election:
Last day to register to vote: Monday, Oct 4, 2021

Early voting: October 18–October 29

Election Day: Tuesday, November 2, 2021

7. 8:05  IH35 Project. TxDOT proposes a major expansion to I-35 through Austin.  There are three options for the portion of the highway between LadyBird Lake and Oltorf. These options will be discussed as well as their impact on the SRCC neighborhoods. The deadline for public input is September 24, 2021. Please review the Minutes of the September 7 EC (Item 8) so that we can use our time for Q&A rather than background. Please see   https://capexcentral.mobility35openhouse.com/  for more information.

Presenter: Mark Thompson , Chair Public Safety Committee; guests representing TxDOT Frances Jordan, Director of Communications and Strategy, and  Lynda Rife, President of Rifeline, a public involvement and community relations firm based in Austin.  

(20 min) 

Comment period on the open house ends on 9/24, but you can still submit comments after that date; they will just not be packaged with the open house feedback.

  • In all 3 alternatives, most of the E-W crossings are above the highway, which opens up the visual space. In our area, at Alt 2 the crossing at Woodland is above the highway, in Alt 3 the crossing is between the main lanes and the managed lanes. 
  • The tunnel alternative (Alt 1) is not being considered, due to costs and complexity.
  • There was discussion about the eminent domain impact on properties adjacent to the interstate, most of which are near the campus area. In the past the community supported removing the upper deck, which will result in a wider highway.
  • How many lanes are being added and why? Adding 2 managed lanes in each direction, restricted to carpools, vanpools, buses, and emergency response; to encourage ride sharing. This should reduce traffic on the service roads.  Also adding bypass lanes in some areas. Also some auxiliary lanes near the exit ramps, to allow for more time for safe merging.
  • The existing noise levels are high. By lowering lanes it will help dampen noise. The sound barriers will also help, and they range in height. Part of the plan is to also reduce speeds on the frontage roads, which should reduce noise. Noise reduction studies are not complete so the level of reduction is unclear.  The speaker was unclear whether the reduction would lower the noise level to the current level of noise.
  • How will these impact pedestrian crossings at Woodland? There are new guidelines for pedestrians – about 30’ of buffer space between roadway and bridge rail. This may include shaded spaces and landscaping.

8. 8:25  CapMetro Orange Line Light Rail Proposed Plan for tunnel exit on S. Congress Avenue.  CapMetro proposes two options for the underground tunnel exit which will impact construction time and traffic patterns of Congress Avenue.  See the Orange Line Preliminary Summary Report for more information on the project.   VOTE EXPECTED  

Motion language: SRCC makes a motion that between the two tunnel options for the Cap Metro Orange Line, SRCC prefers the long tunnel yielding an underground station near the intersection with Elizabeth.    

Presenter: Mark Thompson, Chair Mobility Committee (10 min)

There are currently 2 options – long tunnel vs. short. The long tunnel would result in an underground station near Elizabeth (approximately), and the train will “daylight” (surface) near Lively Middle School, with a second stop at Oltorf. The short tunnel daylights at Texas School for the Deaf (with no station at that location), and the station is at Lively Middle School, followed by a stop at Oltorf. 

Motion by Mark Thompson (Cynthia Milne): Between the two tunnel options for the Cap Metro Orange Line, SRCC supports the long tunnel yielding an underground station near the intersection with Elizabeth.    25 – 0 -5 

9. 8:35   City of Austin Redistricting –  Recently released preliminary maps for the next Council District maps appear to remove half of SRCC from District 9 and place it in District 3. Everything south of Annie/Woodland would be in District 3, as well as everything east of I-35. We will discuss these potential changes.  A map showing proposed changes is here.  

Presenter: Betty Weed, Chair Communications Committee (10 min)

The City Charter requires that every 10 years the City be divided into 10 districts. Before there was a gentlemen’s agreement to allow one Hispanic council member and one African American council member. In 2013 Austin voted to create 10 geographic districts that included a large number of minorities to allow for minority representation. To create these districts, normal citizens (not appointees, not politicians) apply to be on the redistricting commision (ICRC). From the pool of 60 qualified applicants, it got narrowed down to 14.

The commission has been working to design the districts, mostly by making small changes to the districts. This is a very difficult task, in part because of delayed census numbers, but the Charter doesn’t allow for delays in the redistricting process. 

Preliminary maps were released Sept 15th. Betty Weed and Mary Friedman attended an ICRC meeting on Saturday. In the past, most of SRCC has been in District 9, with some portions in District 3. Betty presented a map which showed some SRCC areas currently in District 9, which are proposed to be moved to District 3. The SRCC area currently in District 3 is proposed to remain in District 3. Since District 3 is intended to be a “district of opportunity”, it should be contiguous, which would not allow for all of SRCC to be in District 9. It was asked if we could have all of SRCC added to District 3, but that would dilute the minority participation in the “district of opportunity”. 

The attendees felt that the commissioners were seriously listening to the comments, and were trying to do the right thing. There is still an opportunity to contribute to the ICRC.

10.   8:45   GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS

There is a deadline of Oct 12th for newsletter articles! Please submit them to Ruth Casares.

Our VP, Megan Spencer, will be moving out of the neighborhood by December 31st, and we need a replacement VP prior to then. Please contact the officers if you have interest in volunteering.

The chair adjourned the meeting at 8:47pm.

The August 2021 SRCC Newsletter is now available on the SRCC website. We hope you enjoy it! Please send your submissions and ideas for the next newsletter to the Editor at rucasar@swbell.net

SRCC currently has the following volunteer position open: SRCC Vice President: A replacement for the current VP is needed by December 31, 2021.

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! 

Do you have questions about using the Neighborhood ListServ? This link will take you to information about  subscribing, unsubscribing, posting a message, and more.   https://groups.io/g/SouthRiverAustin

The next SRCC Executive Committee meeting is October 5, 2021 (tentative).  The next General Membership meeting is Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

*Frequently used acronyms: ACF: Austin Community Fund; ANC: Austin Neighborhood Council (https://www.atxanc.org/); BoA: Board of Adjustment; 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;  NHPA: National Historic Preservation Act;  PC: Planning Commission; PUD: Planned Unit Development; SCC: South Central Coalition of NAs; ZAP: Zoning and Platting

Agenda Prepared by Megan Spencer, vicepresident@srccatx.org 

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

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