Envision Circle C in Downtown Austin

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Well, the neighborhood associations of the center city are at it again; this time trying to rally the troops against the clear consensus expressed in the Envision Central Texas surveys.

The Austin Neighborhoods Council, umbrella wing for most of the worst of the lot (the kind of people who opposed the Villas on Guadalupe by claiming that rush-hour traffic would get horrible because of all of the students driving their SUVs to UT) is now fighting the Envision Central Texas project because people voted in huge numbers to direct new development to “infill”, i.e., build stuff closer in to the city so we don’t destroy quite as much of the environment around Austin that we (a) depend on and (b) enjoy. This consensus was overwhelming.

And yet, it still doesn’t penetrate these peoples’ heads that perhaps they’d get more support from the public at large if the sum total of the last ten neighborhood plans wasn’t “please don’t build anything new in or around our neighborhood, and please get rid of a bunch of existing multi-family development here, and please spend ten million dollars on these improvements when you’re done with all of that”. Their tack, instead, apparently, is going to be More Of The Same: Obstructionism in the name of “preserving neighborhoods”, as if we’re too unintelligent to notice that “neighborhoods” in real cities consist of more than single-family homes.

Here’s the note they sent:

MoNAC Meeting, Tuesday January 20, 6:30 pm
Westminster Manor, 4100 Jackson
[Park in north parking lot, enter through Health
Care Center ask directions to Harris Bell Hall]
Guest Speaker:
Beverly S. Silas, Executive Director, Envision Central Texas (ECT)
ECT Mission
Statement (
www.envisioncentraltexas.org) :
“To assist in the public development and implementation of a regional
vision addressing the growth of Central Texas, with an emphasis on land
use, transportation and environment. By working with the people of
Central Texas and build a consensus, we can preserve and enhance our
region’s quality of life, natural resources and economic prosperity.”
Austin Neighborhoods Council (ANC) has put these thoughts and questions
The City of Austin neighborhood planning process, initiated several
years ago, has completed 21 neighborhood plans to date, involving at
least 7,000 direct participants for plans that cover 138,000 residents
(a participation rate of 5% vs. the ECT participation rate of 1%). In
each of these planning efforts, the issue of accommodating growth while
balancing the quality of life in our neighborhoods has been a major
issue for both City staff and the community. In addition, the
neighborhood planning process allowed for a year-long, extensive
analysis of the consequences of specific land use decisions that was not
available in the broad-brush ECT “vision” process.
The ECT survey results show that while the majority of respondents
favored scenario D (less new land developed and putting new residents in
already developed areas) an equal number of respondents favored
“retaining the character of existing urban neighborhoods”. From these
responses it is clear that while we want less urban sprawl, we do not
want to destroy existing neighborhoods with unreasonable density. We
need to ask:
1. Will the ECT “vision” final report recognize and support these
neighborhood plans as the products of the community’s efforts (countless
volunteer hours!) and “vision”?
2. When will the comparative analysis of the adopted (zoning)
densities for the 21 completed neighborhood plans vs. the various ECT
scenarios be completed?
3. To reduce traffic on major highways, the ECT “vision”
indicates additional arterials will need to be widened or built. Which
neighborhoods will be impacted by this aspect of the “vision”?
Final thought: If the ECT final “vision” does not support and
incorporate neighborhood plans, then neighborhoods may not support the
ECT “vision”. Without incorporation of neighborhood plans into the
final ECT “vision”, developers are likely to use the ECT “vision” as
“plan” to their advantage (and our detriment).