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What RG4N cost us: part two

Another casualty of Responsible Growth For Northcross' year-long tantrum has been the truth. Yes, you heard me. People all over the city now believe varying combinations of the following absolutely incorrect, but truthy, narratives.

  1. "Anderson Lane is some kind of pedestrian utopia which Wal-Mart will make worse". This just came up yesterday, which is why it's at the top of my list. BAD FORM, TERRA TOYS. You know damn well that your location on South Congress was ped-friendly, but your strip mall on Anderson Lane? Even a standard-model suburban Wal-Mart would be no worse for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users than the awful strip malls lining both sides of Burnet Road and Anderson Lane.
  2. "Northcross Mall is in the middle of a neighborhood!" - talk about defining down to irrelevance. Notice from the map at the link that neighborhoods are actually buffered from Northcross by those aforementioned awful strip malls in most directions. The Wal-Mart in my hometown (Boca Raton, FL) directly abuts single-family homes, for comparison's sake. Which leads us into:
  3. "Big boxes belong on frontage roads!" This one had some legs - even our city council fell for it. Sadly, xenophobia in Texas prevents people from seeing how ridiculous this is - in other states, frontage roads don't exist, but it's also not true to then fall back to "well, they must be right next to the highway exits, then". I spent an hour of my life I'll never get back proving otherwise to some willfully deluded souls in Allandale, but again, refer to the two Wal-Marts closest to Boca Raton - neither one of which is remotely near a highway off-ramp (Delray Beach example); and the one in State College, PA; on a road very very similar to Burnet Road (four lane with center-turn lane; quite far from off-ramp of the real highway). And they SHOULDN'T be on frontage roads, either - you're dooming their workers and customers to perpetual car-dependence if you put them out there where they don't belong.
  4. "All we were doing was trying to get a public process, man!" (read with Tommy Chong voice for extra effect). The whole point of the zoning code is to establish a set of permissible actions which don't have to go through the public process - and don't forget the cry of this same bunch whenever a developer requests upzoning or a variance: "you knew what the zoning was when you bought the property". Well, Lincoln knew what the zoning was when they bought the property, and it unquestionably allowed for exactly this kind of development. Nobody in these neighborhoods cared to do anything about it for years and years when Wal-Mart wasn't the prospective tenant, of course. Which leads us to:
  5. "We just wanted urban VMU development!" - if you bought this, you're dumber than a bag full of hammers. The motivating force behind RG4N was primarily the anti-density brigade - the people who opposed VMU everywhere else in Allandale when asked nicely; the people who fought apartments for years and years and years; the people who pushed McMansion so hard. So now we're to believe that, just coincidentally, they changed their stripes and are now urbanists precisely at the time Wal-Mart came knocking? If so, they'd know that new urbanists would welcome big boxes - as long as they're built pedestrian-friendly - no matter HOW big. Like Harrod's in London or Macy's in New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. Granted, Wal-Mart doesn't have their cachet, but neither does Allandale.
  6. The city council wanted Wal-Mart all along. Uh, NO. City council members were trying desperately to find an angle to give you (RG4N) what you wanted - and ran straight into the brick wall of fact: the development had to be allowed, period.

That's an incomplete list. Suggestions welcome, and I'll update in later postings.

Your pal,

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , I Told You So , Urban Design , Walking in Austin (Pedestrian Issues) , When Neighborhoods Go Bad


The judge _would_ make her ruling two hours before family arrived . . .

Good list.

On point 2, I've counted about 2 million square feet of commercial/retail (including Northcross and Lowe's) along Anderson and on Burnet near the Anderson intersection. That makes it one of the largest retail centers in Austin proper.

4. "Public process" -- the only public process argument RG4N made was the flimsy garden center CUP claim. None of the others -- trees, traffic and drainage -- complained about "public process," except for a variance argument RG4N made in connection with the drainage claim. But even under RG4N's theory of the case, the drainage could have been designed to avoid the need for a variance.

A critical point that is often overlooked in all of this: None of RG4N's claims challenged Wal-Mart's right to site a 200K store at Northcross. Not even the traffic claim.


The "public process" is more for the PR game RG4N was playing, especially on the Austin Chronicle's site. As in, "all we wanted was a public hearing, man! how can you be against a public hearing, man? are you The Man, man?"

RG4N's "statement on court ruling" reminds me of the Black Knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail.

Esepcially the "...we continue to believe that we conclusively established noncompliance with the law on our other claims".

Obligatory you tube link: http://youtube.com/watch?v=2eMkth8FWno

Just watch the last two minutes of this clip and you'll see the same attitude. Is that Jason Meeker in that suit of armor? =)

What if you just hate Walmart? Why isn't that enough? If I ever run for mayor, my single issue will be giving neighborhoods the right, ability, and process to collectively reject any corporate charter. And to banish the poor and ugly back to the frontage roads, where they belong.

This is just the computer scientist boolean logician (bluegician?) talking, but:

What about the poor OR ugly?

Why not also banish the rich ugly and the poor beautiful to the frontage roads too? I see this as a big gap in your potential mayoral campaign which I am alerting you now of for completely frees.

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