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TWITC: RG4N are our heroes!

Michael King writes that we should support RG4N even though their case is utterly without merit as even their news staff is beginning to discover, months too late. Here's a comment I just placed there:

Michael, this is ridiculous. Zoning means something - in this case, it means that Lincoln bought the property knowing what they should be allowed to develop (and what they should not be allowed to develop). If they were up there asking for variances or even a change in zoning, RG4N and the rest of you guys would have a point, but they're not, and you don't.

When it comes to cases where developers seek upzoning, many of these same people are very quick to tell you that the prospective developer should have known what they were getting when they bought the tract. Interesting how this doesn't apply here. Also interesting how none of the RG4N homeowners are volunteering to let Lincoln have veto power over their own development projects within current zoning. Democracy for me, not thee.

As for the comparison to the Triangle - the bulk of RG4N's supporters are using the group as 'useful idiots' here - they have shown through their actions on other projects (including very recently) that they have no interest at all in dense urban development - they want to preserve low-density stuff they already have.

A critical eye once in a while, even at your fellow travellers, would seem to me to be a basic responsibility for a journalist.

One point I should have added but forgot: this lawsuit, in which the city has to defend its legal responsibility to approve site plans that comply with city code, is costing Austin taxpayers a half-million or so at last count. Still think RG4N is so noble?

A second point I just remembered: the Triangle development was such a big fight because the state (leasing the land to the developer) is exempt from Austin zoning codes.

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , PS: I am not a crackpot , This Week In The Chronicle , Urban Design , When Neighborhoods Go Bad


I couldn't agree with you more on this. Seems like outside of the rail debate, I see pretty much eye to eye with you on alot of stuff. Surpised me.

One of King's themes seems to be "don't worry about the law ZOMG IT'S WALMART."

This is difficult case, and the focus on Walmart has distracted from consideration of what is appropriate for the redevelopment of Northcross.

What's appropriate there is what current zoning allows. What more might have been obtained if RG4N had put their energy into trying to ASK for things instead of demanding that Wal-Mart just go away?

As for the implication (maybe not what you meant, but I caught a whiff) that something less intense should have been done here, the idea that these things aren't appropriate anywhere but frontage roads is a particular brand of stupid we seem only to have here in Texas. We should be having the exact opposite - less intensive (and auto-dominated) uses on the frontage road; and less auto shops and drive-thrus on the urban corridors and MORE heavy attractors like big boxes.

I obviously agree. I've posted my similar reaction.

I caught the hearing on the Burnet Road VMU project on Channel 6.

It was sort of gratifying. One Allandale resident after another stood up to speak against the project and then Brewster moved to approve the rezoning without discussion. He didn't even acknowledge the opposition. Leffingwell asked to limit the development to 165 units, but Brewster insisted on 175 -- which was funny, since the developer only wanted 165.

I saw Brewster and his son at Amy's on Burnet a couple weeks ago (both our kids were playing on the playscape at the time) but didn't have the guts to go up and say hello (based on past reports that he had slagged me to Allandale neighbors). Guess I should have done so anyways.


I'm sure he's feeling the hurt now. Wasn't he the one who floated the idea of suing the city to the ANA?

He should have known better than to deal with the devil just because Lincoln came in right before the VMU deadline. He should have let that one go and closed ranks against the bad neighborhood characters, seeing the threat for what it was.

Instead, because of him and Jenny K, the unruly natives have been emboldened, and neighborhoods are in a general revolt everywhere. First ANA, then against Concordia project, and now Crestview is trying to all-but-dismantle the station project.

Remember how you were unimpressed with Crestview not putting up a fight against the Station TOD? Well, that's all changed, largely due to the Northcross issue firing everybody up.

In their latest neighborhood circular, the Crestview NA "steering committee" has become aggressive against the city on all sorts of issues. They're working with ANA and Brentwood to exempt large swaths of land along Burnet from VMU, they're making demands for park land and isolated traffic development near the Station TOD, and they've strongly recommended to the city a "two, maybe three story MAX" ceiling limit on the buildings at the Station TOD.

I guess Brewster couldn't have predicted that he would need to sacrifice his VMU and high density vision at the altar of bad neighborhoods when he began currying their favor.

Oh wait. He should have.

From crestviewna.org:

"Austin City Council members:

The steering committee of the Crestview Neighborhood Association has voted to oppose a change of zoning status at 5350 Burnet Rd. from CS-MU-CO to VMU, due to the dangerous precedent it sets for all future VMU along Burnet Road and Anderson Lane.


We feel that the lack of density caps appropriate to the area of town is a key flaw in the current VMU ordinance. City staff has confirmed that VMU allows “as much density as physical limitations allow”, and our impression from the City’s Planning Commission is that this is just fine. That concept goes directly against New Urbanist and Smart Growth principles. The example of 5350 Burnet succinctly illustrates how developers will attempt to maximize density in exactly this way, with no regard for transportation impacts or connectivity with the surrounding neighborhood.


VMU, as currently implemented, will destroy our neighborhoods."

"Wasn't he the one who floated the idea of suing the city to the ANA?"

To be accurate, I believe he said this to RG4N, not ANA (at the time ANA was still run by people taking the North Shoal Creek NAs stance - negotiate mitigration and infrastructure improvments).
What he said to Brigid Shea & co. was (per Shea) something to the effect of "you have to sue us or we won't do anything on this."

I agree with you (pel) that McCracken should have foreseen to what this would lead. Balancing ANC, SEIU and VMU was too much, obviously. There comes a time where even a politician ahs to just say "listen, you're wrong, go do something productive." I guess he's doing that now with supporting VMU over the ANC line, finally.

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