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Correcting a misrepresentation

You left one out, Trish:

What is the problem right now? There are several ways you can describe it:

-Wal-Mart is trying to build a SuperCenter against the wishes of the nearby community;
-the city violated their own procedures for approving this kind of site plan;
-Wal-Mart and Lincoln, having benefited from an irregular approval process, are not willing to make the process right. They are willing to negotiate (to some degree), but not on the most important things.
-they threatened to sue the city if the city tried to undo a bad process.

Your declaration that the process was 'irregular' "as [you] understand it" is based on your unwillingness to listen to people like Chris Allen or myself, who have no direct interest in this fight, but have ten times the understanding of city zoning law (and traffic issues, respectively) as the people making public statements for RG4N.

Here's an accurate summary of the current situation:

Lincoln got their big-box application in before the rules changed; so, by law, they must be handled under the old rules which essentially allow them to do what they want with the Northcross site. Their TIA was done according to standard process, so even if you don't agree with its conclusions, it's going to stick. Minor errors in notification, if they even happened, do not qualify as substantial enough problems to justify the city rejecting the plan which, let's recall, by rule was subject to administrative approval meaning that if the rules were followed, the City Council had to approve it even if they didn't like it.

The path you and RG4N are heading down is one where you lose the ability to negotiate anything with Lincoln because you're too stupid to realize that the city is telling you the truth when they say that Lincoln's got the force of law behind them. In the process, you're forcing the city to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing to defend us all from the lawsuit that your merry band of idiots is causing, either by suing the city or by making Lincoln do so. And, and let's make no bones about this; this isn't just "as I understand it"; the city legal bill which results must be paid by all residents of Austin, not just the idiots in RG4N or in the neighborhoods which 'support' them.

Oh, and by the way, Wal-Mart and Lincoln aren't willing to negotiate "on the most important things" because the negotiating position of RG4N (unlike the pre-coup neighborhood associations) has been "NO WAL-MART". Not "a nicer Wal-Mart, please" but "no Wal-Mart at all". (Were RG4N merely advocating for a nicer, more urban, Wal-Mart within the realms of what's practical given the low-density nature of the surrounding area, I'd be first to sign up on their team).

Hope this helps.

The Pig

This entry was posted in the following categories: When Neighborhoods Go Bad


The reason Wal-Mart won't negotiate on the size (which they were asked about again today) is that their strategy is founded on a Supercenter, not because RG4N has taken any given position. They don't want to do a Neighborhood Market or even one of their just-under-100k-SF stores. They have said over and over again that the Supercenter aspect is non-negotiable.

And for what its worth, to whatever degree a WalMart at Northcross turns out "nicer" or "more urban", you will have RG4N's "idiots" to thank for it. Think dialectic of revolutionary change - or, in simpler terms, you only get the middle when someone pushes the end. Not that I'm saying that's the goal, because it isn't, but it may be a byproduct.

You're so knowledgable and passionate about all this stuff. Wish you were playing for my team.

Wow! Thanks Hope, for betraying the dialectical, revolutionary change model that motivates the SUV cadres of lite Marxists that make up the backbone of RG4N. Red is indeed an appropriate color for you all!

And thank you M1ek for your reasonable, responsible posts on these topics. I wish more people were reading you, but of course RG4N has really jumped the shark on this one. They are on the verge of losing Brentwood's support and they lost the rest of the city a long time ago.

That's funny - Marxist SUV drivers. Well, now that you've found us out, I will admit - I drive a red minivan. ;)


I thank, rather, the neighborhood associations who negotiated rather than completely obstructing. I'd have liked us to have gotten a much better Wal-Mart than the one we're getting based on today's Statesman; if RG4N hadn't made the presence of Wal-Mart non-negotiable, you might have been able to help on that. One thing we both agree on is that the changes so far have been fairly irrelevant.

And as for the size - I don't buy that at all. Frankly, I don't care how big the Wal-Mart is; I care how well it supports access by pedestrians, bikes, and transit-users. I'd much rather have a hyooge Wal-Mart that addresses the street and serves pedestrians than a neighborhood-grocery-sized standard-design one in a strip mall - and any true urbanist would say the same thing, which is one of the reasons why I doubt y'all's bona-fides.

I freely admit to having no urbanist bona fides. I am, as they say, late to the party. But I am trying to come up to speed as quickly as I can, given some rather unusual demands on my time these past three months. Hey - if you wanted to pull together some detailed suggestions for making Northcross friendlier to pedestrians, bikes and transit users, I might know some people who would be interested in them. :)

If you perceive no real changes so far, what do you believe the neighborhood associations have accomplished?

The only reason the city or Lincoln have made any effort to look as if they are negotiating is because of RG4N pushing. You may disagree, perhaps you are aware of some back story I am unaware of.


I do not buy the new talking point; I'm sorry. The negotiations that occurred were in the absence of RG4N, performed by neighborhood association leadership which was partially later overthrown by RG4N. You can't take credit for others' good works here; it's far more plausible to me that Lincoln would have offered more if they had more credible oppposition than "no Wal-Mart no matter what".

The minor changes the NAs accomplished were a slight improvement in pedestrian access and some improvement in hours of operation (no, not even I believe that 24 hours was appropriate here, by the way).

What I would have pushed for? A plan where the building footprint was pushed out to Burnet Road or to the transit center (I'd prefer the latter, but neighborhood groups would oppose it) making it far more urban. Remember, "urban starts with the location of the parking lot". I don't care about size, again; and neither should anybody calling themselves an urbanist - some of the best urban retail attractions in the world are hyooge - like Macy's in Manhattan or Harrod's in London.

That's not a new talking point, that's just my opinion. Again, you may know about things I don't know about. But can I suggest, without sounding or meaning to sound arrogant or dismissive, that I know about some things you don't know about? And I say that not to discount whatever you may know, but simply to say, perhaps neither of us has the complete picture.

RG4N didn't overthrow anything. Seriously. I can understand why the perception is out there, but I can also assure you that individuals in that NA were not acting at the behest of RG4N. I can also assure you that it was more than plausible deniability, which we have been accused of. I was there, I know what was said, I know what I said. I know you don't like or trust RG4N, and you don't know me from Adam so my assurances may mean little to you. But it was extremely important to me that we take the high ground on that one and I feel that as an organization we acted ethically and straightforwardly. We didn't orchestrate or endorse a coup and we certainly don't control the new leadership.

Some of the parcels along the roads are not owned by Lincoln so you can't push much out to the roads unfortuntely.

The coup just reeks of plausible deniability - RG4N riles people up by suggesting that the NA leadership isn't representing them; leadership gets overthrown with people who just happen to be RG4N supporters; but we're wrong for suggesting that RG4N is most to blame? I think not. A coworker and friend _was_ there. I _do_ trust him.

And if it's not a new talking point to claim credit for the small change the city and NAs were able to wring out of Lincoln, why have I seen it a couple of places so far?

We didn't suggest NA leadership wasn't representing people. We didn't suggest our members should go change the leadership. But like I said, I understand why there is that perception. I am not asking you to doubt a person you trust. I am, though, asking you to consider that there may legitimately be another perspective. You don't have to trust me to consider that and perhaps conclude that _maybe_ my version isn't out of the realm of the possible.

You've seen it because we actually believe no one would have done a thing if RG4N hadn't started yelling.

You know, this back-and-forth would almost be fun if I didn't so, so want my life back... ;)

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