Category Archives: community involvement

Garage Sale May 14, 2016

The spring Northwood Neighborhood Garage Sale is Saturday May 14 beginning at 8 AM, rain or shine (the weekend after Mother’s Day).

For shoppers

Northwood is located at the NW corner of Parmer and MoPac. From MoPac SB, exit Parmer Lane and turn right on Oak Creek, next to MoPac Self Storage. From Parmer/MoPac, turn right at the first street (Tamarack Trail) or the second street / second traffic light (Silver Creek Drive)  map.

Drive the streets carefully – watch for shoppers and children.

For neighbors who are selling

Place the for sale items in your driveway or garage; shoppers will drive the streets. Tip: if you live on a side street, consider putting a “sales here” sign on the main street – sometimes shoppers won’t drive all of our streets.

We will advertise in the Statesman, Craigs List and Nextdoor. If you are selling, please either place $2 in an envelope with your name and address in the Association mailbox at 4507 Tamarack Trail (the Association mailbox is on the post of the home’s mailbox) or pay  online via PayPal  The $2 helps pay for the Statesman ad.

Unsold items? Save a trip to Goodwill and help the Anderson HS Dance Guard (part of the marching band) raise money for their Winter Guard season. Email Guard mom Lori Baze at baze@aegisgroupinc.com and include “Anderson Dance Guard” in the subject line. Include your address and an Easter Seals truck will visit your home starting at 2:00 to pick up your remaining items.

April 12 TDHCA Housing Tax Credits meeting results

On April 12 the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the agency that manages the Housing Tax Credits application process and awards, held a hearing in Austin to gather comments from individuals and groups about projects that have applied for housing tax credits, including the apartments planned for Oak Creek Drive.

TDHCA Finance Director Marni Holloway opened the meeting by stating that the purpose was to gather public comments for the TDHCA board (none of the board members were present). All comments were recorded; attendees were asked to sign in and indicate if they were in favor of, opposed to or neutral on a specific project.

About 20 Northwood neighbors traveled to the hearing that was held at 1701 Congress at 6 PM. Three neighbors, including two of the officers, spoke against the apartments, describing the concerns and dangers of additional traffic, poor and unsafe location for apartment residents (close to the train, distant from grocery and other businesses), increased flooding risk and the issues with the geology of the land (karst – probable underground voids may make it too costly to build multistory buildings).

Place 6 Council Member Zimmerman was present and spoke. He shared some of his objections to the process: to award the housing tax credits the TDHCA has developed a scoring system. The builders can get points by meeting certain criteria but if a neighborhood opposes the project, there is no way to deduct points. And if the City Council endorses the project, that adds points but if the City Council objects, no points are removed.

Many thanks to all who made the trip to the hearing – here’s an after meeting photo of some of the neighbors who made the trip (others had already departed).neighbors after TDHCA hearingc

Contact TDHCA by June 12!

If you have not yet done so, please email Multifamily Finance Division Director Marni Holloway, marni.holloway@tdhca.state.tx.us and Competitive Housing Tax Credit Administrator Sharon Gamble,  sharon.gamble@tdhca.state.tx.us to express your opposition.

We are tracking the number of emails; please notify northwoodtreasurer@gmail.com – either cc that address  when you send the email to Ms. Holloway and Ms. Gamble or send a separate email.

When writing the mail, please include the following:

  1. Use the subject line “Opposition to Elysium Park, application number 16161.”
  2. Include your home address.
  3.  Let them know you are against the proposed housing development Elysium Park, application number 16161 at 3300 Oak Creek Dr in Austin, TX.  Let them know the site is not appropriate for apartments; include as much detail as you wish. Ask them to not grant the tax credits to this project.

Details you may want to mention include:  the location is unsuitable because of possible increases in flooding nearby and downstream, this part of Austin geology sits on limestone and karst which often has caves and underground voids; this geology would not be suitable for heavy multi story buildings. Additionally, there are only 2 usable streets to enter and exit this area; apartments would add more traffic to the nearly 860 homes that already use these two streets.

Balcones Park improvement fundraiser

Balcones Park has been granted $200,000 from the Austin Parks Foundation & Neighborhood Partnering Program. However, to receive these grants a cash match of $15,000 must be raised.

These grants  will be allow a shade structure at the pool, a covered concrete pavilion and 9 picnic tables to be installed. Any extra funds will allow even more improvements, such as an improved playground, a dog park and repairs to the creek trail.

Every $1 donated earns $13 for the park, so please make a donation of any size today!

Donations of $50 or more will receive a yard sign to show their support of the Park. For questions or to discuss your donation options, email balconespark@gmail.com or call 512.293.2434.

Learn more and donate to the park

Oak Creek apartments: updates & resources summary

This post is a quick reference to updates and links to information about the Elysium apartments project near the eastern end of Oak Creek, such as to documents on file with the City about the project,  the zoning process, water quality standards, the State agency involved with Housing Tax Credits and more. We will update it as we learn more.

Developer’s website for Elysium (and other projects)

Join NextDoor and/or Facebook group for updates

Join our private Northwood Facebook group for updates (requires a Facebook account). All residents of Northwood and adjacent neighborhoods are invited to join. We also share updates through NextDoor.com.

Background

In December 2015 a representative of Pinnacle Housing, a company that builds apartments, including ones with reduced rents, contacted the Northwood Neighborhood Association officers to notify us of their plans to build apartments on the 7+ at 3300 Oak Creek Drive. This tract is located between MoPac Self Storage / the creek and the back yards of Pegasus homes. (map)

They are seeking Housing Tax Credits so they can offer reduced rents on a number of the units. All nearby neighborhoods oppose apartments at this location for many reasons including flooding, environmental, traffic and safety, which are explained in detail below the updates.

City records link and documents

Map of affordable housing units in Austin

Austin Affordable Housing Corporation –  Austin Housing Finance Corporation

To search for information on this or other developments, visit https://abc.austintexas.gov/web/permit/public-search-other?reset=true

City’s project page for Elysium (added 1/13/18)

City’s project search page – enter Elysium in the Project Name area half way down the page to find all Elysium projects (added 7/6/18)

Historical minutes of a 1979 City Council meeting with a requested zoning change for 3100 Oak Creek through 3616 Oak Creek (our case starts on page 14).

Elysium Grand Apartments information updates

Added January 25, 2019

This month developer began construction. As of this date, they have installed a chain link fence around the site with black fabric, and some gravel has been delivered to the site outside the fence.

Added 10/15/18

  • It appears that through a creative mechanism the FOR-PROFIT developer/ development may not have to pay property taxes.  (starts on page 31 of our handout to the City Council, which we also submitted to the TDHCA). 4% tax credits approved at Oct 11 2018 TDHCA board meeting video  (our portion starts at -about 5 min 15 sec into the video for Elysium application 18422’s noncompetitive 4% tax credits request.  A TDHCA staff member starts with the intro. All discussion until motion and vote goes until about 28 min 20 sec).  Several members of the apartments opposition work group did extensive (amazing) research to document our concerns; we submitted them to the TDHCA and they are on record. A neighbor’s email opposing the apartments starts on page 35; Northwood’s (extensive) packet begins on page 39. We show documentation for all of our statements, including ones which the developer disputed. Board Chair JB Goodwin, who is also a realtor and is familiar with this area, voted against the 4% but it still passed. The next step will be for the AHFC to approve the up to $13 million bond.
  • Sept 20 Austin Housing Finance Corporation Meeting:
    a hearing and public comments regarding the issuance of up to $13 million of multiple family housing revenue bonds to be issued to finance the development Elysium Grand apartments  video  and transcript (Elysium starts on page 2, 11:30).
    We explained our many concerns, including that the project was not suitable for the site due to geographic features that were not initially known (including at least one sinkhole, which had been confirmed by the Watershed Department) and then the developer spoke. Among other statements, she said “There are no sinkholes on the site. ”
    The City Council voted to approve the bonds; Mayor Adler also requested a copy of our speech. We provided it, with extensive documentation to him, the rest of the council members and also to the TDHCA before their Oct 11 meeting.

9/7/18 update

  • The 4% housing tax credit for Elysium Grand’s application 18422 was scheduled to be presented, discussed, and voted on during the TDHCA Board Meeting on Thursday, September 6, 2018. Without prior notice, that item was pulled/excluded from the agenda; but since it was posted on the agenda, a representative from our neighborhood area was able to speak in front of the Board and stated reasons why this site is unsuitable for the scale of the project proposed. Video of the meeting; neighborhood speaker begins at 5:20.
  • More information is available on the Noncompetitive 4% Housing Tax credits page; Elysium is 18422:
    bond application (lengthy PDF)
    environmental assessment (from Nov. 2017, 58 page PDF)
    market study
    site design feasibility report

5/26/18 update

Official notices regarding the project

City GIS viewer

There are many layers to review (added 4/9/16) – best viewed with Internet Explorer, http://www.austintexas.gov/GIS/DevelopmentWebMap/Viewer.aspx
(if that link doesn’t work, try the https version https://www.austintexas.gov/GIS/DevelopmentWebMap/Viewer.aspx
look at the various layers to see:

  • Review cases – zoning site plan cases and site plan review cases (current cases being reviewed; may not have needed a zoning change).
  • Building footprints
  • Current 100 year floodplain
  • Natural Features to see the Walnut Creek floodplain

Environmental concerns

Videos and photos illustrating drawbacks of site, flooding updates

City Watershed Protection and new development, drilling reports

TCEQ drilling reports – underground voids, caves, etc.

A number of these individual reports list “underground voids, caves, lost circulation”. Lost circulation means the underground stream goes… where?

Water quality / caves

Zoning & Development

City Ordinances

City Ordinances (complete list of municipal codes; choose from Codes or OrdBank links for specific manuals such as Drainage Criteria Manual, Environmental Criteria Manual, Traditional Neighborhood District Criteria Manual, Transportation Manual and more)

City Zoning & Development

Current tract zoning (2016)

Current zoning – what can be built? (PDF)

Traffic, Transportation, Mobility

City Council

Feb 2, 2017 Council hearing / results

Aug. 4 2016 Council hearing on postponement

Meeting schedule

Parking at City Hall

City Hall is located at 301 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701 (map),  directly across from the S. 1st Street bridge. There is ample parking under the building, including for disabled visitors. The entrance is on Guadalupe St, which is one way south – turn north on Lavaca and turn left onto Second Street and again onto Guadalupe.

Important: Take your parking ticket with you to be validated (outside the Council room) otherwise you will have to pay.

Feb 24, 2016 presentation by developer to neighborhood

video of 2 hour meeting – presentation and discussion
Developer info sheet (PDF)Northwood info sheet (PDF)

Housing Tax Credits

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs manages the Housing Tax Credits, (aka “affordable housing tax credits”). See the Information Updates section at the top for the latest updates on the housing tax credits request.

City Council Feb 11, 2016 Housing tax credit housing resolution – recording

This recording includes the statement of the resolution for the requested housing tax credits for this project, the Council’s discussion, presentations by both developer and neighborhood and the Council’s vote.
http://austintx.swagit.com/play/02112016-632  (we are item 5, part 1 and part 2).

Feb. 24 meeting re planned Oak Creek apartments

Meeting summary / link to video

video of meeting

The meeting the developers arranged to describe the apartments project (described below) was very well attended. The developer planned for 100 attendees; an estimated 130 people attended. Most live in Northwood; others were from Preston Oaks, McNeil Estates, Hidden Estates, Milwood and other neighborhoods.

Both the developer and Northwood Neighborhood Association distributed information sheets at the meeting.  Developer info sheet (PDF)Northwood info sheet (PDF)

The meeting began with the developer giving a presentation describing the project; the rest of the meeting was devoted to answering question and quickly became a lively meeting. The 2 hour meeting was recorded and is on YouTube. Unfortunately this recording began after the introduction, when the speaker said “I know you are against affordable housing” and many people started shouting “No!”. Someone called out “don’t presume to know why we are here. We are against apartments, not affordability”. The speaker acknowledged that point.

Representatives from District Council 7 Member Leslie Pool and State Representative Celia Israel attended. Council Member Pool’s representative had a signup sheet for people who wish to receive their updates and sent an email to attendees the next day.

Note:  comments on this post are welcome IF they are reasonable and polite (please, no ranting or inappropriate language; those will be blocked). All comments are reviewed before they are approved and published or, if needed, blocked.

Next Steps

During the meeting the developer indicated they would be working on a rezoning request and submitting it to the City soon. Northwood and others are also working  to keep the current zoning.

Original article’s information

A company that builds apartments is planning to build up to 120 apartments on Oak Creek between the backyards of Pegasus and the frontage road (behind the MoPac Storage and creek).  A number of these units will have reduced rents. The developer has reserved the ballroom at Abel’s North , 4001 W. Parmer Lane, from 6:00-7:30 PM on Feb. 24 for a presentation on their plans for their development, Elysium Park. Their presentation will be followed by a question and answer session.

As we understand it, the developer has invited all neighbors to attend; we have been informed that representatives from District 7 City Council Member Pool’s office and State Representative Israel’s office will also be attending. The City Council has already voted to support the affordable housing tax credits the developer is requesting; we understand that Representative Israel has not yet made a final decision on this issue.
Housing Tax Credit FAQs Competitive Housing Tax Credits

Attending the meeting does NOT indicate a show of support for the project. It is simply a way to listen to the developer’s presentation and ask questions.

This earlier post has details about the project, including the plans available on the City’s web site.

 

Apartments planned for Oak Creek

Sign the petition against rezoning for apartments

Background

In December a representative of Pinnacle Housing, a development company that builds affordable housing apartments, contacted the Northwood Neighborhood officers. They have an option to buy the 7+ undeveloped acres on Oak Creek between the Pegasus homes and the creek and storage units (map). They plan to build up to 120 units, a mix of 1-3 bedroom homes in two and 3 story buildings. They have named this the Elysium Park project.
Preliminary site plan  – Elysium Park funding application plan (PDF) – Elysium Park Cost Benefit Analysis

A significant number of the units will be reserved for affordable housing. The developer told us there will be an estimated 200 additional vehicles from this development that will be entering and leaving on Oak Creek and Silver Creek. The developer will eventually need to request a zoning change.

Pinnacle Housing is a for profit company, as are most development companies. Their goal is to make a profit by building apartments; this is understood and expected.  And like other apartment developers, they make their profits through charging competitive rents. Austin has high rental rates, which makes it difficult for many individuals and families to be able to afford to live in the city.

To encourage developers to offer reduced rent rates, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) has an Affordable Housing program that offers tax credits – in other words, taxpayer money is used to encourage developers to offer reduced rents. This is a highly competitive process; there are nowhere near enough funds and credits to meet the demand here and throughout Texas.

Housing Tax Credits (“affordable housing”) process overview

Pinnacle Housing is requesting 9% tax credits, or about $1.5 million, along with $581,700 in fee waivers from the City. Developers often request fee waivers for adding water, wastewater and other infrastructure; when enough fees are waived, the utility bills of existing residents may be increased to compensate.

TDHCA has a detailed application; points are assigned or deducted for numerous areas. To gain points, the developer requests a statement of support – a resolution – from the City Council and from the State Representative. If the neighborhood is registered (we are), they can also contact TDHCA to approve or oppose the application; this also affects the points assigned. Frequently asked questions about the housing tax credit (HTC)
Nine percent tax credits details

Northwood position on apartments

The Association officers and  residents recognize the desperate need for affordable housing units in Austin. However, we firmly believe that this location is completely unsuitable for apartments, for reasons stated below. The “affordability” is not the issue. Preston Oaks, McNeil Estates, The Reserve at Northwood, Milwood and Walnut Crossing also oppose apartments on this tract.

We expect that something will be built here. Although, given the complete absence of parks or greenspace north of Parmer and Austin’s commitment to increasing green space, our first choice is a park, we realize that may not happen. Years ago we worked with the property owner to create suitable zoning; we simply want something that complies with the current zoning and conditional overlay (PDF download).

Summary of reasons for opposition

Apartments are not a good fit for that area due to increased traffic; limited street exits for all current residents; potential for increased flooding; safety issues due to traffic, trains and flooding;  negative impact on water quality; and the possibility of caves with endangered species. Additionally, Austin is committed to increasing green space and parks. This area would be perfect for that since there are no parks north of Parmer.  video of May 2015 flood – video of Oak Creek Drive being flooded – flooding slides shown to City Council during Feb 11 meeting

Current status/action needed

February 2016 – We need ALL residents who are at least 18 years of age to sign petitions showing that we oppose the apartments plan. If you wish to sign and live in a nearby neighborhood, either contact your neighborhood association officers or if needed, email northwoodpresident@gmail.com We will submit the petitions to the TDHCA and to our State Representative Israel.

Despite our efforts (details below), the City Council did approve the affordable  housing resolution – they lent their support to the developer’s request for tax credits for this project.  This was only the first step. Just because a majority of the City Council members agreed to support the affordable housing tax credit request does NOT guarantee they will support the rezoning.

Sign the petition

Petition locations – in Northwood and online

The deadline for the Housing Tax Credits is past; the developer has submitted their application for the Housing Tax Credits and Northwood has submitted our objection.
We expect the developer to continue with the rezoning request; we still need petition signatures against the rezoning.
Petitions are on the porches at
4507 Tamarack
3615 Oak Creek
4101 Oak Creek
13017 Silver Creek

An online petition is also available. Please only sign ONE petition. Anyone at least 18 years of age can sign.
Questions about the petitions? Email northwoodpresident@gmail.com

Contact our State Representative

Update 2/27/16: there is no longer a need to contact Representative Israel; please do NOT call or email her. Thanks in part to the numerous phone calls and emails she has decided to remain neutral rather than supporting the developer’s application for the Housing Tax Credits.

If you have not done so, please contact Representative Israel  when stating your reasons, please stay focused on traffic, flooding, safety, critical water quality zone and environmental. We want to keep these the main focus. It will only hurt our cause to say the development will cause increased crime or decreased property values.

Council’s Feb 11 vote on affordable housing resolution

As anticipated, a majority of the City council – including District 7 council member Leslie Pool (our council member) – voted against us and approved the affordable housing resolution. Council members Zimmerman and Troxclair voted against it, as we requested. We are very grateful for their support. Councilmember Zimmerman noted that “the neighbors are energized and getting educated on what to do…the opposition is rational and pretty strong.”

To watch the actual proceedings, go to http://austintx.swagit.com/play/02112016-632  (we are item 5, part 1 and part 2).

Communication from Council Member Pools office

Council District 7 Member Leslie Pool’s office emailed neighbors after the Feb. 11 meeting

The City Council Resolution was Step 1. What’s next?

The City’s letter of approval gives points towards this award. If Representative Celia Israel write a letter of approval, that also gets points towards the award; if she is neutral, they don’t get points; if she is against it, points are deducted. We have already met with Representative Israel to explain our position – she contacted us, thanks to all of the phone calls and emails. She listened to our concerns and will talk to the developer, then decide.
Northwood is registered with the Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs and is submitting our own protest against the proposal; that may subtract points from the developer’s application. We also want to get as many petition signatures as possible showing our opposition to submit to Rep. Israel and the TDHCA.
The TDHCA must receive the applications, letters, packets and petitions by March 1; we want to get our packet and petitions submitted well before that date. We still need petition signatures!!!

Immediate next steps:

We need to get as many signatures as possible on the petitions – all residents who are at least 18 years of age can sign – and not just in Northwood! Residents in all nearby neighborhoods are encouraged to sign petitions; the various neighborhood associations will be contacting their residents.
We will send these to our State Representative Celia Israel (we met with her to explain her position; she is also meeting with the developer). We will also send these to the TDHCA.

Step 2

Assuming the developer either gets the 9% tax credit or otherwise decides to continue, the next step is a zoning change. We definitely have a voice in that; stay tuned for details.
It’s important to understand that if the developer does get the zoning changed to a category for apartments (there are several multifamily categories) and later decides to not build, that new multifamily zoning remains in place. Another developer can build anything within that zoning category.

City Council Feb. 11 Meeting recap

Many thanks to everyone who attended to show support, and especially to the neighbors who spoke, and a standing ovation to Ed English (Milwood resident and former District 7 Council candidate) who gave us invaluable advice. Our speakers – Matt Synatschk, Lyn Rios, Jeanie Beckham, Leanna Lang, Donna Blumberg and Amelia Tarbet focused on specific topics, such as the lack of fiscal notes, issues about the SMART housing requirements and problems with the site: traffic, walking distance to grocery, restaurants and other businesses, limited street access, dangers of the frontage road/Parmer access and flooding nearby and downstream. The traffic and flooding speakers had slides to illustrate their position.

Many thanks to everyone who sent flooding photos and video. Those were included in the flooding slides and did get attention! (Understandably, Council does not want another Onion Creek buyout situation). Council Member Ora Houston noted she had a problem with the flooding, and wanted to be sure that approving the tax credit resolution did not presuppose approving the zoning change approval; it does not. Per City Staff, there is precedent.

How do I stay updated?

Subscribe to NextDoor.com; we will be communicating the latest updates and action needed. If you want to be involved, email any of the officers.

Vote for Holiday Yards through 12/21

It’s that time of year to vote for your – and your children’s –  favorite holidays yard decorations. Enjoy the lights and choose your favorite Holiday Lights and Children’s Choice through December 21.

How to vote? There are 3 ways – just include the voter’s name and the address of the house that gets their vote:

  • complete the voting form on this site OR
  • email northwoodna@gmail.com OR
  • write your name and the address that gets your vote on paper and drop it in the Association mailbox at 4507 Tamarack. The Association mailbox is on the post of the regular US mailbox (do not put it in the regular mailbox).

Questions? email northwoodna@gmail.com

North Austin Gardens and Artisan Tour May 2, 2015

The Love North Austin group is sponsoring a tour of a number of public and private gardens in north Austin… including the Adelphi Acre that’s across from the Milwood Library. The tour includes:

  • Access to 3 Community Gardens
  • Access to 17 Private Gardens and a School Garden
  • Access to meet over a dozen North Austin ArtistsTicket holders also get admission to events and demonstration that Saturdaay at Earphoria–North Austin’s Music Hostel!

Tickets are $10; for more details and to get a ticket, visit  Love North  Austin,  http://www.lovenorthaustin.com/nxna-garden-tour.html

Adelphi Acre community garden grand opening April 18, 2015

The community garden Adelphi Acre, at the corner of Adelphi and Amherst (diagonally across from the Milwood Library) is having their grand opening on Saturday April 18 from  10 AM – 1 PM. There will be a tour of the garden, a Master Gardener panel and more.

For details or to get involved, visit their website, adelphiacre.org or their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AdelphiAcre.

Police Commander’s Forum meeting April 14

This information was provided by the neighborhood’s police contact Officer Michael Whetston via Nextdoor.

Please come out for the Region II (Adam Sector) 2nd Quarter Commander’s Forum.The forum will be held at Lakeline Mall, located at 11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., (map) on April 14, 2015 at 6:30 pm. The space where the forum will be held is on the upper level across from the movie theater’s main entrance. Come and meet our new Region 2 Support Lieutenant, Lt. Kevin Leverenz, and new District Representative, Officer Frank Creasey. We hope to see you there and bring a friend!

Home page for Region 2 district representative, includes Police contact information and other area meetings:  austintexas.gov/page/district-representatives-region-2
Home page for all Austin Police commanders’ forums www.austintexas.gov/department/commanders-forum