Open Space Requirements; 10/20/11 Agenda Item 85; #C2O-2010-020;

FYI, following is the letter I sent to Council regarding tomorrow’s hearing, and I have pasted in their email addresses below:

Dear Mayor Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Cole, and Council Members:

With the amendment of the Open Space Requirements, you have an opportunity to begin to address the disparity in access to parkland and multi-purpose trails suffered by neighborhoods identified in PARD’s Neighborhood Gap Analysis.

It seems reasonable to require that PARD’s definition of what constitutes “accessible” should be used rather than the definition reflected in Part 3(F)(2)(a) and Part 4(A)(2) of the draft Ordinance dated October 14, 2011. PARD’s definition contained in its Long Range Plan reflects reality, where the current definition in the draft Ordinance ignores the fact that public parkland may only be one-quarter mile away, but cannot be safely reached by foot or bicycle.

Stating that a signalized intersection is all that is required for safely traversing a roadway does not address the dedicated right turn lanes at many intersections, nor the distance between signalized intersections and the parks. In some areas, the parkland may be within a quarter mile, but you’d have to walk over a half mile to reach a traffic signal, and then another half mile or more backtracking on the other side of the road to get to the park.

Doesn’t it make sense that definitions contained in the City ordinance on Open Space Requirements should match PARD’s definitions? Wouldn’t that further the goal of improving “the clarity and consistency in the wording and outcomes of existing standards” (Resolution No. 20090514-036, May 14, 2009)?

It’s a shame that no analysis of a development’s impact on nearby parkland is required before granting a waiver to providing sufficient onsite open space for its residents. This is especially true for areas identified in PARD’s Gap Analysis. Affordable housing and access to open/green space should not be an either/or proposition. If open/green space is not accessible under PARD’s definition, it should be required on-site.

In instances where fees in lieu are approved, the ordinance should specify that those funds be used to provide green/open space within the affected Neighborhood Plan Area in accordance with that area’s Priority List contained in PARD’s Long Range Plan.

Thank you for your consideration.

/s/ Toni House
Member, EROC NPCT and SRCC
1503 Inglewood St., Austin, TX 78741

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