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VMU: Hyde Park goes reactionary

This is a letter I just sent to most of the City Council. I'll try to link a few things from here, but no extra analysis - I'm really too busy at the office to be spending time on this, even.

Councilmember McCracken and others,

I wanted to register my opposition to the ludicrous and irresponsible plans submitted by these two neighborhood associations in my area to completely opt out of the VMU ordinance on highly questionable grounds (claiming to have already implemented zoning accomplishing some of the same things while rejecting the rest based on parking and other typical excuses). There is no more critical corridor in our city for VMU than this part of Guadalupe.

My family and I walked up to the Triangle for a restaurant opening a week or two ago, and the streetscape along Guadalupe is just awful. This is the kind of thing that Karen McGraw's reactionaries are trying to preserve - oil change lots, gas stations, and barely used falling down storefronts which can't be made economical when they are forced to adhere to suburban parking requirements. (The only healthy business along this strip was Vino Vino, which as you may recall, she tried to force to build a bunch more parking too).

The claim that this represents the will of the neighborhoods is questionable. If you read the backup material, you'll see the same exact people who spent months and months building the McMansion Ordinance were the 'voters' on this plan - this isn't the kind of issue you're going to be able to get the rank and file of the neighborhood interested in, as you might have already figured. (But in the case of Vino Vino, you can argue that the true silent majority in Hyde Park made their feelings well known - the population in general is clearly not as reactionary about density as is their leadership).

You already gave these people way too much with McMansion - and the understood quid pro quo was that they'd have to accept additional housing units along transit corridors - and there's no better transit corridor in central Austin than this one. Parking is thus no excuse. If you don't force VMU here, you might as well throw in the towel everywhere.

Regards,
Mike Dahmus
Urban Transportation Commission, 2000-2005

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , PS: I am not a crackpot , Urban Design , Walking in Austin (Pedestrian Issues) , When Neighborhoods Go Bad

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Comments

Looks like Judges' Hill is also opting out of several properties and East MLK is trying to opt out of all properties, which would be a real shame.

Yeah, unfortunately I don't know enough about the dynamics in either place, or have enough experience in the area, to jump out and call BS - the way I could for Hyde Park, NUNA, OWANA (although CB has looked at their app and found it surprisingly reasonable), and even South Lamar.

My favorite Hyde Park excuse (paraphrased, of course): "Yeah, this VMU property is just a vacant lot, but we like it that way."

CB?

You need to cut down on your work. The internets have been way too civil and boring the last two weeks!

CB = AC

CB = AC looks like the end of some (wrong) geometry proofs from 9th grade.

I just got an email back from Councilmember McCracken which was very encouraging - indicating they would seek a one-month do-over for Hyde Park at least, since they did not follow the implicit and explicit guidelines of the process (by opting out of the whole corridor, basically).

That's great news.

He should also send a memo to the PC members letting them know the guidelines.

On Judges' Hill, the CC voted 6-1 to keep the properties in the VMU district (Leffingwell opposing), but only on first reading. OWANA and HP got postponed. (This is from the closed caption notes).

I suspect that Jack and ZNA have taken the temperature of City Council and are worried about their opt-outs. Especially since Bouldin Creek, Travis Heights and OWANA kept their properties in.

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