Update on South Lamar Mitigation Plan

Do you remember when our neighborhood was peaceful and quiet, and this time of year you could, at long last, open your windows to enjoy the cool fall weather? It’s hard to even imagine that now with all of the construction noise, dust, and smells wafting through the neighborhood!

This seems like a very good time to update you on the status of the South Lamar Mitigation Plan. As you recall, the City Council passed a resolution directing the City Manager to come up with a mitigation plan to address the negative effects of infill development in our neighborhood. The City Manager was to give a presentation to the Comprehensive Plan and Transportation Council Committee by August 4, and report to Council by August 15, with a timeline for the Mitigation Plan and a detailed approach to develop the recommendations for the enhanced tools and related opportunities for the CodeNext effort.

Here’s what has been happening and the results to date of this Resolution:

  • May 1 – City Council unanimously passed the South Lamar Mitigation Plan, Resolution No. 20140501-042
  • July 9 – residents met with city staff to present issues of concern
  • September 4 – City Staff gave their Briefing on the South Lamar Neighborhood Mitigation Plan to the Comprehensive Planning and Transportation Committee, addressing the South Lamar Neighborhood infill issues, city staff’s general findings, possible revisions to the Land Development Code, and next steps. The presenters were Mark Walters, Planner Senior, Planning and Development Review; Robert Spillar, Director, Austin Transportation; and Jorge Morales, Engineer, Watershed Protection. You can view the video of the presentation here (it is Item #5) and view their presentation document here.
  • October 3 – Greg Guersney, Director of the Planning and Development Review Department, sent a Memo to City Council which is the City Staff response to the resolution with their recommendations. You can read that memo here.

There are certainly some items of concern in this memo and we hope you read it and get engaged in this ongoing process!

 

District 5 Candidate Forum on October 9

Neighborhoods all over Austin are experiencing rapid growth, and certainly South Lamar Neighborhood ranks among the top for development and density increase. You have probably heard or read about the “South Lamar Neighborhood Mitigation Plan”, a resolution passed unanimously this year by City Council directing the City Manager to develop a plan to address the negative effects of infill development specifically in our neighborhood. The resolution strives to address the years of development we have experienced which has led to our problems of flooding, traffic, and lack of supportive infrastructure.

The mitigation plan is a positive development towards improving our future. But perhaps even more important, we now have the opportunity to influence our own future by electing our District 5 representative in the upcoming City Council elections.

In order to get acquainted with the candidates, SLNA is participating in the District 5 Three-Neighborhood City Council Candidate Forum, along with our neighbors in two adjoining neighborhood associations Barton Oaks and Zilker.

This forum was originally scheduled in September, but cancelled on account of threatening weather.  Now it has been rescheduled  for Thursday Oct. 9, 6:15-8:30 at Faith United Methodist Church, 2701 S. Lamar.

We will be conducting 15-minute interviews of all (we hope) of the District 5 candidates.

Here they are in alphabetical order:

Dan Buda        http://www.danbuda.com/

Jason Denny    http://www.dennyfordistrict5.org/

Dave Floyd     http://www.floydfor5.com/

CarolAnnRose Kennedy         no website

Ann Kitchen   http://kitchenforaustin.com/

Mike Rodriguez          http://www.mikerodriguezforaustincouncil.com/

David Senecal             http://www.davesenecalatx5.com/

The idea is to ask questions of each candidate in isolation, so that they won’t pick up from each other and there won’t be interplay between them during the interview.

We have an important job opening to fill. We hope to see you there on Thursday!

Flood Mitigation Work on Del Curto

We’ve got some good development news! The flood mitigation project on Del Curto is well underway.

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As you are most likely aware, several of our neighbors along a stretch of Del Curto near Bluebonnet have had their homes flooded one or more times due to new development activity. Homes that have been here for decades and never had an issue with flooding, all of a sudden were flooded, some even after just modest rains. The City of Austin (correction) The Developer is installing new curbs and driveway cuts to divert the water down the street. We are certainly hoping for our neighbors that this flooding nightmare is nearing an end.

One can’t help but wonder where all this water will go? The hope is it will run south down the hill on Del Curto to the creek. Hopefully this happens without incident to the downhill, uncurbed neighbors. Stay tuned.

‘Smart Growth’ or Debacle?

We are on the brink of incredible change in SLNA, and our once pastoral, quiet, little neighborhood is quickly being transformed. Transformed into what? We don’t yet know. On the one hand is the ideal of “Smart Growth”: compact, walkable urban areas of sustainable housing and open space where community is nurtured in concert with the existing neighborhood. On the other hand is development run roughshod, where every available square inch is paved over to maximize density and profit. In SLNA, the ball is rolling, but we don’t know in what direction. Whether we end up looking like an urban planner’s glossy flyer, or simply a bunch of condos and houses all crammed in together is yet to be seen. A few rain barrels does not “Smart Growth” make.

In SLNA we sit squarely in the “Desired Development Zone”: This yellow area on the map is the urban core that the city of Austin has designated for major growth. You have already seen the large number of development projects starting up on South Lamar. This development is not stopping at our neighborhood boundaries!

We have already seen one neighbor on Del Curto sustain substantial flood damage due to new development. The flood cleanup alone cost over $15,000 out-of-pocket, and the situation is not yet resolved. How this legal entanglement will unfold is not clear. The flood potential at the site still exists, leaving the homeowner in limbo.

On Del Curto alone, there are 7 large properties where development is either taking place or soon could be. How will this affect our neighborhood? What infrastructure improvements need to be made to sustain the cumulative impact of all of these developments? How will this affect flooding along Del Curto and Cinnamon Path? Will you be building a sandbag wall? How will this affect traffic and other issues of public safety?

If you’d like to hear more about the current developments being planned in our neighborhood, meet your neighbors and share your opinions, please join us for our neighborhood meeting tomorrow night, Thursday, June 21 at 7PM. The meeting is taking place at the Faith United Methodist Church at 2701 South Lamar Blvd. We will be in classroom Alpha-2.

We hope to see you there!

Summer is Here!

And unfortunately that means more break-ins in SLNA are likely to occur. We’ve already had reports from a few neighbors about cars and homes being broken into, and of suspicious ‘security alarm salesmen’ going door-to-door. This is a good time to remind everyone to be on the lookout for suspicious activity. If you see something in progress, please call 911. If you feel something is amiss but don’t feel it is of an emergency nature, then call 311 to report it. In either case, let your neighbors know.

This is a good time to get on the South Lamar Yahoo group email list to share and get updates on this type of information. Visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SouthLamarNA/ for more information.

Austin Police Department provides a Crime Viewer utility where you can see what crimes have occurred in your area. Find that site here: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/GIS/crimeviewer/CrimeViewer_disclaimer.html.

Another useful sight is Jack Darby’s Krimelabb. Many of you remember Jack from our April 2012 SLNA meeting where he talked to us about the valuable services that Krimelabb provides. Visit Krimelabb here: http://www.krimelabb.com, and get up-to-date Krimelabb tweets at: https://twitter.com/#!/krimelabb. Krimelabb just tweeted some interesting news and also posted a security alert about these ‘salesmen’.

Remember to lock your doors and windows, and keep valuables out of sight!