ANCTALK and Wal-Mart and Northcross

Saved for posterity since Yahoo is flaking out; possibly of some marginal interest here. This is in response to a post by Susan Moffat, fighting against Wal-Mart at Northcross Mall. The point answered by #1 was a study that correlated Wal-Marts with poverty at the county level.


my post:


I hate Wal-Mart too, especially after having to shop at one this weekend up here in Michigan (absence had made the heart grow slightly less contemptuous, I guess), but get real.

  1. The studies you quote could just as easily have shown that Wal-Mart is attracted to poverty-stricken rural areas. IE, they didn’t control for the pre-existing conditions.
  2. I agree that Costco is a million times better than Wal-Mart, but I bet Allandale and the ANC would fight Costco too. If not, let’s see them put their money where their mouth is and draft a letter asking Costco to please move in to this location.
  3. If somebody better is not an option, Wal-Mart is certainly an improvement over what’s there now. The mall is just pathetic – and only getting worse. How about for once hitching your wagon to the market instead of fighting against it and calling Wal-Mart’s bluff – offer to at least abstain if the physical building layout is more urban and pedestrian-supportive than what exists there today, for instance.

Irresponsible Center-City Neighborhoods And Their Plans

Just posted to AustinNP, in response to a long-running thread originally about the McMansion ordinance.

Those neighborhood plans are very, very, very underwhelming. The Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan calls for barely more density than exists today, and the CANPAC ‘trades’ density which ALWAYS should have been allowed in West Campus for the right not to have any more multifamily or mixed-use development in most of the rest of the area.
When I chaired the transportation committee for the Old West Austin neighborhood plan, as long as we’re trading bona-fides, we operated under the understanding that our responsibility was to tell the city where and how our neighborhood and surrounding area could accomodate additional density, both multifamily and mixed-use commercial, since the will of the city (including these neighborhoods) was to redirect development inwards (slowing suburban sprawl). The goal was _NOT_ to push it purely onto the fringe of our neighborhood so that apartments would only go up on the loud, busy, streets; or that it would become another neighborhood’s problem. This is in direct contrast to the Hyde Park and especially CANPAC plans – where a responsible process would have resulted in much more density being called for on Guadalupe; somewhat more (as mixed-use or multifamily) on the interior streets of Speedway and Duval; loosening rather than tightening of secondary dwelling rules; etc.
So, if you ask me, do I respect the amount of time that you and the others spent making those neighborhood plans – yes, in a sense, I do, in the sense that I can respect how hard-working Karl Rove is, even though he works for my political enemies. You achieved your goals completely; but the outcome is not one I can respect.
– MD

Crackpot Letter, Part XXIV

From today’s Chronicle, in reference to last week’s 37th street lights / student housing complaint:

More Apartments Near UT

Dear Editor,

Mary-Gay Maxwell’s complaints about houses rented out to too many students strike home for a lot of us [“Are Partiers Dimming the 37th Street Lights?,  ” News, Dec. 30]. I live in her neighborhood, next to a duplex full of undergrads who are occasionally a problem despite a landlord who’s more responsible than most.

But let’s be clear: Most college kids don’t particularly want to live in a house. It’s more work than an apartment, you don’t get a pool or an entertainment room, you have more worries about parking and roommates, etc.

So why are so many UT students living in rental houses, compared to cities with other large colleges (such as Penn State)? Well, for one, UT doesn’t have many dorms. Not much we can do about that out here in the community. But there’s another contributing factor here: This area doesn’t have anywhere near enough near-campus apartments to satisfy demand. Some students would doubtlessly still live in rental houses, but a large majority would switch back to apartments, as they do at other big universities. It’s ludicrous that there’s so much low-density development (single-story even) along Guadalupe close to campus.

Living off Far West or Riverside (in low-density apartment sprawl) is a poor substitute to being able to walk (or ride your bike) to class – a slow, stuck-in-traffic shuttle bus isn’t going to win the battle against close-in rental houses. So it’s clear we need more near-campus high-density apartment development – and the recent rezoning of West Campus is a good start, but not nearly enough. The problem today, though, is that we’re still dealing with the effects of the last 20-30 years of ill-advised obstruction tactics by near-campus neighborhoods to any and all apartment development. Villas on Guadalupe, anyone?

Unfortunately, this lack of near-campus high-density apartment housing was, in fact, created by neighbors like Maxwell through their irresponsible opposition to essential projects like the Villas. Too bad that people like me (living a few blocks from those 37th lights) have to suffer the consequences with her.

Mike Dahmus