Early last month the Lightsey home at 1805 Lightsey Road was torn down to make way for approximately 31 new homes to be built by PSW Real Estate. The Lightsey home was built in 1932 and sat prominently with a view of downtown at the highest point in the neighborhood. It was located near the intersection of Del Curto and Lightsey (also known as Dead Man’s Curve) which is very close to the geographic center of SLNA.
Over the past year the Lightsey home historic zoning case was heard many times including at the Historic Landmark Commission on March 23rd, the Planning Commission on June 23rd, and lastly at City Council on August 13. Despite the Historic Zoning Commission having voted 4-1 to initiate historic zoning, City Council voted 5-5-1 not to preserve the home. Council members Tovo, Pool, Garza, Casar and Kitchen voted for preserving the home; Houston, Zimmerman, Troxclair, Renteria, and Adler voted against; and Gallo abstained. The preservation of the Lightsey home was overwhelmingly supported by members of the neighborhood, and Council member Ann Kitchen (our District 5 representative) vigorously advocated saving the home. However, the arguments largely fell on deaf ears at City Council.
PSW has said numerous times that if given the demolition permit, they will reuse material from the Lightsey home as site features around some of the heritage trees and especially at the entry along Lightsey Road (http://austintx.swagit.com/play/06232015-880/2/ Item C7 @44:08). This diagram shows the location of some of these features:
Specifically PSW has said:
- We will fully document the existing home; Pictures of each façade and pertinent architectural details, dimensioned site plan existing structure, and historic narrative of the property and its residents
- We are willing to use materials/elements in a site feature that evokes the feeling of the architecture of the existing home
- Use stone from existing home in the tree wells and retaining walls along the Aldwyche Dr extension
We are very much looking forward to seeing the creative ways PSW fulfulls their promise of reusing the materials salvaged from the Lightsey home. We cannot overstate the importance of developers trying to preserve some of the original character of SLNA, so much of which has sadly been lost in recent years.
During the course of hearings defending the demolition of the historic home, PSW’s representative Glen Coleman said that while they appreciate wanting to honor history, “Think about the history we are making”. Making history? Time will tell, Mr. Coleman, time will tell.
The City of Austin Watershed Protection Department held a public meeting on September 3rd to discuss the flooding and drainage issues in the West Bouldin Creek Watershed. This watershed is the area along West Bouldin Creek as it flows from the Zilker neighborhood through SLNA. The watershed department presented a detailed discussion of the problems, and a solution that would be implemented in two phases:
- Phase 1: Construct “small-scale” projects to improve drainage and reduce flooding
- Phase 2: A larger project to address flooding identified in the Preliminary Engineering Report.
Phase 1 is expected to begin in 2016.
The materials presented at the meeting are a very interesting read, and are available online at the links below. We encourage you to have a look. They discussed how projects get prioritized, how storm drain systems work, the history and scope of the problems seen in the Del Curto area, the Preliminary Engineering Report which identified the need for additional inlets, upgrades to existing pipe, additional pipe, and keeping the storm drains within the public Right-of-Way; as well as issues raised such as cost, South Lamar construction, and time-frame.
Twenty small projects were identified as possible enhancements to be made in Phase 1, which is expected to begin in 2016. One of the projects discussed was the “Green Streets” project on Iva and Delcrest, which would reduce the road-way widths and change the streets to be 1-way. The longer term, Phase 2 work would see some preliminary work happen concurrently with Phase 1, but the detailed design would not begin until after Phase 1, probably in 2018.
The Watershed Department staff identified ways that all of us in SLNA can help:
- Avoid building in drainage easements
- Clear easements of obstructions
- Report flooding and drainage concerns to 3-1-1. The “squeaky wheel gets the grease”.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org and request more information about flood-proofing
We encourage you to read the presentation materials that we have put on the website. You can find them at:
- September 3 Meeting Presentation
- Del Curto Project Area Phase 1A Study
- Del Curto Project Area Phase 1A Maps
It is very exciting to see these efforts to address the problems that we have seen in SLNA, problems which have gotten significantly worse with all of the infill development. Stay tuned!
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!
UPDATE 10/6/2015 – Recent proposals by COA Watershed Protection Department to address flooding and drainage issues were presented at a public meeting on September 3, 2015. See details in this post: Del Curto Storm Drain Improvements – West Bouldin Watershed
We’ve got some good development news! The flood mitigation project on Del Curto is well underway.
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.
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!
Yes, change is afoot in SLNA. It’d be pretty hard to miss the construction now taking place in the 2600 block of Del Curto, as development is in high gear on the Milestone homes being built there. It also appears that Sola City Homes are ramping up the next phase of their project next door.
These are only two of a number of locations in our neighborhood where significant developments are being planned, including the corner of Del Curto/Lightsey, and on Clawson.
What will these developments look like? How will they impact our neighborhood? We will be discussing these issues at our next SLNA meeting taking place on Thursday, January 19th, 7PM at the Eco School on Manchaca. Please join us to learn more about what is being planned, and share your thoughts about the future of our neighborhood. There are a number of items on the meeting agenda that you won’t want to miss. We hope to see you there!