Category Archives: zoning

CodeNext – who should decide?

The Northwood Neighborhood Association officers are providing the following information on CodeNext to keep you informed on a topic that may have a direct impact on our neighborhood.  As you may or may not know, CodeNext is a dramatic rewrite of Austin’s land development code and plans for Austin’s future growth. The rewrite will have a profound and decades long impact on virtually every resident in Austin. The CodeNext draft is a very complex document and many concerns have been raised regarding the impact of the changes it would bring.  As the officers of your neighborhood we agree that the citizens of Austin, upon whom these changes would be forced, deserve and should have the right and opportunity to vote on these proposed changes once the final draft is drawn. NOTE: As of now it will be voted on ONLY by the City Council.

The petition circulating is proposing that there shall be BOTH a waiting period and voter approval by election before CodeNext (or any other subsequent comprehensive revisions of the City’s land development laws) is legally effective. The petition must be signed in person, no online signatures will be accepted.  The petition requires a date, signature and printed name, street address, zip code, county of residence and either your date of birth or voter ID number (voter IDs are available at votetravis.com/vexpress/display.do). You must be a registered voter within the city limits of Austin for your signature to be accepted. The signatures will be submitted for validation. (Please only sign the petition ONE time if you are approached more than once and asked to sign it.)

To read additional information on this petition and also another petition for reasonable petition requirements for voter referendums please see indyaustin.org/petitions/.

We have seen first hand that going before the city council is a very time consuming and tedious task. CodeNext is a very complicated and lengthy document which is currently in its second draft (our CodeNext post has links to some CodeNext and petition information). Who knows how many more will come before the final one? We feel it is imperative that the citizens of Austin be allowed to review and vote on CodeNext and that it not be left in the hands of 10 council members and the mayor.

If you would be willing to collect signatures, whether it be on your street or anywhere in the neighborhood please provide your contact info on this form. If you want to get involved in assisting with the petition drive effort in other ways email info@indyaustin.org

 

 

 

CodeNEXT resources

Statesman site for coverage of CodeNEXT codenexthub.org/

Petition & other information from concerned citizens

IndyAustin indyaustin.org/ has the petition which we are circulating and more information
IndyAustin Facebook page

10/2017 Number of units and building height – Austin Monitor

9/2017 Slide deck of review of problems in CodeNext v2 (PDF)

9/28/17 comments on CodeNext Draft 2- worse than draft 1 (PDF)

Sept, 2017 article regarding activists plans to petition for a public vote  www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2017/09/longtime-austin-activists-team-up-to-petition-for-a-public-vote-on-codenext/

Information from City government regarding CodeNext

Oct 2017 proposed zoning maps by City Council district

Read chapters of the City of Austin draft Land Development Code (CodeNext) and add comments – codenext.civicomment.org/

Timeline as of Sept 2017 (PDF on city’s website)

CodeNext home page on City’s website

CodeNEXT comments needed!

A number of Northwood neighbors and others from District 7 attended the May 9
CodeNEXT meeting with Council Member Pool and her staff to learn about the changes and ask questions. The speakers stressed that they want feedback now; changes have been made based on feedback.
To review the code and made comments go to codenext.civicomment.org/. The main CodeNEXT page is www.austintexas.gov/department/codenext. And side by side maps of current and proposed zoning are available at codenext.engagingplans.org/codenext-comparison-map?mc_cid=34c2a62560&mc_eid=e9880136d2

Please review the maps and look for any corrections. it was noted at the meeting that a section of Walnut Creek had been rezoned, when it should have remained open space. Please make comments on any topics on the website and provide any feedback.

A big concern

Code Next proposes a reduction in the required notification for public hearings for zonings and other development applications. Currently, notice is required to be mailed a minimum of 15 days prior to the public hearing. The code revisions reduce that period to 7 days. 7 days doesn’t provide enough time for an organized neighborhood response. As we all know, our response to the apartments took much longer to gather the petitions and other information. The best way to indicate your concerns about this is adding comments at  codenext.civicomment.org/

Additional observations

 The map is divided in to “transect zones” and “non-transect zones”, with most of the inner core located in the “transect zone”, which allows for higher density development. Our area is in the “non-transect zone”, which allows less dense projects than areas in the transect zone.

The changes for our area are minimal, and the apartments will not change. The one big change is setbacks for commercial properties, which shouldn’t impact us too much, but may impact development of two properties on the north side of Northwood, the KAHL property and the Fricke property if they were to go commercial. The compatibility standards are proposed to be reduced as well, which would allow for higher density development closer to the residential property lines.

The parking requirements for residential and commercial properties are being reduced, which could create parking problems for future developments.

The Robinson Ranch PUD is not impacted by Code Next, but the code does strengthen the connectivity requirements, pretty much guaranteeing that the two street stubs on Council Bluff will be connected to any new development to the north at some future date. If the Robinson Ranch property owners requested changes to the PUD, they would be through the new zoning code.

There are concerns about developing in floodplains in the Parmer/MoPac area and how that will affect nearby and downstream residential and commercial sites.

The Watershed Department added some code language regarding on site water detention for future projects, which should help mitigate any potential for increased flooding as property develops upstream. They also added some environmental controls that would require water quality ponds to treat the runoff for particulates and other debris, adding some protection for downstream properties. 

Please add comments; they are being reviewed and the maps are being updated.

Other information

CodeNEXT attempts to address affordability issues. austintexas.gov/codenext/housing?mc_cid=34c2a62560&mc_eid=e9880136d2

CodeNEXT (new zoning guide/maps) meeting with Council Member Pool’s office May 9

CodeNEXT, the new City guide for future zoning and development in Austin, has been recently unveiled. District 7 Council Member Pool’s staff are holding a meeting on May 9 at the Milwood Library starting at 6:30 PM for the northern part of District 7 to discuss CodeNEXT and answer questions.

Link to Council Member Pool’s email about CodeNext (it contains the same links that are listed below and more).

Please review the information in the links below to learn about CodeNEXT and how it affects this part of Austin, and attend the May 9 meeting to ask questions and provide feedback.

  • Compare the current and proposed zoning changes  https://codenext.engagingplans.org/codenext-comparison-map
  • Review the text of the Land Development Code https://codenext.civicomment.org/.Per this page,”CodeNEXT is the new City of Austin initiative to revise the Land Development Code, which determines how land can be used throughout the city – including what, where, and how much can be built.
    The draft Land Development Code will be edited based on the comments you provide on this site, in our public meetings, and through other feedback mechanisms. For more information and for other ways to get involved, please visit our website: austintexas.gov/codenext.”
  • Home page of CodeNEXT www.austintexas.gov/CodeNEXT

 

Oak Creek Apts. Housing Tax Credits opposition

The developers for the Oak Creek apartments have applied for 9% Housing Tax Credits (TDHCA website 9% page) so they can build reduced rent (affordable housing) units. This is a very competitive process.  There is a public comment period for the TDHCA 9% tax credits which ends June 23, 2017.

During this public comment period we can write to the TDHCA (details below) and attend TDHCA Board meetings to express our opinions and opposition regarding the project.  The TDHCA looks at the public comments when evaluating a project.

Sign petition opposing the tax credits

You can sign the online petition here by June 15 (the Board needs time to prepare the petition for submission). All residents who are at least 18 years of age can sign.

Submit comments  to TDHCA

If you wish to submit comments to the TDHCA by phone, fax or email (details below), be sure to include the following

Application# 17272 Development Name: Elysium Grand
Development Address: N side of Oak Creek Dr, W of Mopac
(Note: the address under the application is not 3300 Oak Creek.  This is because the developer applied for 2 projects under the same land during the pre-application process and they could not put 2 applications under the same address).
Development City: Austin, TX 78727

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
Attn: Multifamily Finance Division
P.O. Box 13941
Austin, Texas 78711-3941
or by email: htc.public-comment@tdhca.state.tx.us
or by fax: (512) 475-1895

 

Oak Creek apts rezoning passes on first of 3 readings

Many thanks to the 40ish neighbors who took the time to go to City Hall on February 2. Our 4:00 “time certain” (earliest time the case would be heard) turned into a 6:45 discussion.

This is the first reading; there will be 2 more readings (date not yet set); the vote on the third reading is binding. Normally no public testimony is allowed after the first reading.

Recording of the City Council meeting;  we are item 56 part 2. The first 20 minutes are the developer’s presentation; beginning at 20 minutes the Mayor called one speaker from Northwood then a pro apartments speaker and continued that pattern.

End result: The developer described their plans – including 4 and 5 story buildings – and had some people give “we need affordable housing” talks. They had no other justification. After some truly excellent presentations by Northwood neighbors, covering

  • unsuitability of the proposed zoning for the area traffic/safety
  • limited exits which make it impossible to evacuate everyone during a disaster such as a wildfire
  • environmental issues (flooding and karst terrain, which often contains sinkholes and/or caves)
  • poor mobility/walkability and how this site fails the goals described in Imagine Austin
  • availability of more suitable tracts further west on Parmer
  • testimony from a neighbor/social worker who is familiar with the needs of the target demographic describing the problems with the location (among other points, caregivers who travel to the clients’ homes often use public transportation)

To everyone’s great disappointment, our own Council Member Leslie Pool gave an impassioned speech FOR the affordable housing units. Pool also made the motion to accept the MF-4 zoning.

The Mayor, Council Members Casar and Renteria made “we need affordable housing” speeches and Council Member Houston said she was impressed with the developer and encouraged us to work with them. With our own council member in favor of the rezoning, all other council members also voted for it with very little discussion and  no questions for the neighborhood. To say we were disappointed and disheartened is an understatement. They ignored all of the safety and environmental concerns and the comments from the Watershed Protection department’s representative about “2, possibly 3 known sinkholes”.

We (Northwood) were aware of one “critical environmental feature” (a sinkhole). The Watershed Protection rep noted that the neighborhood’s environmental facts were accurate. The Watershed Protection rep stated there are 2, possibly 3 sinkholes and that would be investigated further during the (intensive) site plan phase” which happens after zoning.  (Note: even if all goes the developer’s way, they may discover site problems that prevent them from developing it. The 3/1/1979 City Council session included a rezoning request for this tract; it includes the quote “they do not plan development of Tract 1 until the sewer is in and terrain problems can be solved“. Unfortunately the location of those records with the terrain problem details is unknown.)

The third reading – date not yet decided – is the final and legally binding vote. There is normally no public discussion at the third reading. However, the developer still needs the tax credits funding from the Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs; there is much competition for these tax credits.

We lost the first round and we are NOT finished yet. Stay tuned to NextDoor and the private Facebook Group for details.

update: Feb 2 City Council Oak Creek Apts Rezoning hearing-all attend!

Northwood was notified this week that the same developer will be going forward with the zoning case. The hearing will be held January 26  February 2 at City Hall. The earliest it will be heard is 2 PM.  4 PM ; we have a “time certain” for 4 PM, which means that 4 PM is the EARLIEST our case will be heard. It could be much later; that depends on the agenda items ahead of our case.  Please plan to attend! If possible, we will update the time as we learn it via NextDoor

The developer also applied for 2 projects to be funded for multifamily through the Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs (the agency that manages the grants for subsidized housing) for 2017. One is for general affordable and the other is for supportive housing funding. Here is a link to the application spreadsheet on TDHCA:

http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/multifamily/housing-tax-credits-9pct/docs/17-CompHTCPreAppLog.xls

The General Affordable is basically the project we have been dealing with (“reduced rent” units).

To the best of our knowledge and from what we have read, the TDHCA defines supportive housing as:

“125) Supportive Housing–Residential rental developments intended for occupancy by individuals or households in need of specialized and specific non-medical services in order to maintain independent living.

The services offered generally include case management and address special attributes of such populations as Transitional Housing for homeless and at risk of homelessness, persons who have experienced domestic violence or single parents or guardians with minor children.”

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE SHOW A LARGE REPRESENTATION AT THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING. THERE IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS. WE NEED TO SHOW THE UNITY OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

With the Valid Petition still in place, 75%  – 9 Council Members – must vote in favor for this rezoning application to pass on the third reading. This is the first reading. We need 3 City Council members to vote against it on the third reading to defeat it.

Please email Nancy Grijalva at NorthwoodTreasurer@gmail.com  if you plan on attending the hearing on February 2 and if you either wish to speak or are willing to donate your 3 minutes to another speaker. Each speaker gets 3 minutes; others can donate time to increase that. Several of the officers and other planned speakers need more than 3 minutes.  Important: If you donate time to someone, you must be present when our rezoning case is heard or your donation doesn’t count.

Include the following:

subject: attending 2/2 meeting

1. Name
2. Address
3. Phone number
4. Do you need a ride and the time frame you can attend the meeting
5. Are you able to drive others if so how many and the time frame you can attend the meeting

Background information on the original rezoning case is available at the Oak Creek Apartments: Resources Summary page

Apartments rezoning postponed!

Update

8/9/16
First, A BIG THANK YOU to each and everyone of you for your continued support!

As most of you may have heard or read the neighborhood’s rezoning case has been postponed. As it was explained it has been postponed for 180 days. This basically means the applicant can withdraw or the staff can request another postponement. Additional action will be required by the applicant to withdraw the request. There was not a specific date given to rehear the case; they will have to notify us when and if the case is rescheduled.

We are fortunate to have a handful of board members and neighbors that have spent long hours of research, attending meetings, making phone calls and gathering all the information needed to present the neighborhood’s position and to keep the current non-residential zoning in place.

At the August 4 Council meeting the question to be answered was whether or not the zoning case should be postponed. Our responses to the questions asked were limited to only the postponement request. Yes it would have been better if they would have withdrawn, but that did not happen. So for the next few weeks/months we will be in contact with city staff and City Council members regarding the zoning case and other relevant related issues. The Neighborhood Association officers and involved neighbors will be monitoring it closely and will report any and all concerns that may develop as well as keep you abreast of any future actions that may be required.

We know that you may have questions and concerns about this past week’s meeting with the City Council, and we are more than willing to answer any concerns/ comments or questions you may have.

Now we must wait to see what the developer plans to do. We all want answers but at this time we have no way of determining what they will do. So we ask for your patience and please let us know your concerns. As promised we will keep you updated on any new developments.

Please be sure to keep watching for any new information or updates!

Recording of the August 4 hearing (we are item #70)

Statement from State Representative Celia Israel explaining her stand on affordable housing, released 8/8/16 (PDF) We are deeply grateful to Representative Israel for her decision to remain neutral regarding the housing tax credits in this case.

Original Information

We just received word: the rezoning of the apartments has been postponed for (at least) 180 days. Elysium postponement letter from the project manager (PDF).

Why did they take this step? This project was intended to build “affordable housing” apartments using 9% Housing Tax Credits from the Texas Department of Community Affairs.  These tax credits are extremely competitive; this project was not funded and is not on the wait list (see the July 28 spreadsheets listed on the TDHCA page).

Although they have not withdrawn the rezoning case  – the applicant will need to take additional action to withdraw the request – they have postponed indefinitely. This  postponement is valid for 180 days, at which time the applicant can withdraw or staff can request another postponement.  As of this writing (8/3/16) this case can potentially be reactivated with little notice. We will continue monitoring this.

***************

As of this writing (Aug. 3) the case is scheduled to be heard at the August 4 City Council meeting; the officers and workgroup members will attend in case there are any questions. There is NO need for the neighborhood to attend.

Many thanks to everyone who has worked to oppose this case! And cross fingers and toes that the applicant does withdraw the rezoning request.

City Council Rezoning First Reading – August 4 – everyone attend!

Update

meeting recording  (item 70)

Statement from State Representative Celia Israel explaining her stand on affordable housing, released 8/8/16 (PDF)

Original information

On August 4, 2016 the Elysium Park rezoning case will be on the City Council agenda for the first of two times. Council will hear comments from the developer and public about the rezoning of the 7+ undeveloped acres on Oak Creek Drive to MF-4 so that apartments can be built then they will vote. If (as expected) a majority vote for the rezoning, it will continue to the second and third readings, which  will be held on August 11.

On August 4 our case C14-2016-0023.SH Elysium Park will be on the City Council agenda at or after 4:00 PM. We need EVERYONE to be at City Hall, 301 W. 2nd Street (map) to show support for our opposition (the underground garage opening is on the west side on Guadalupe; if driving, get your parking ticket validated to park for free).

We’ve requested a “time certain” of 4 PM so that is the earliest our case will be heard. However, it may be much later – there is no way to predict the exact time our case will be heard.

Agenda for August 4 – draft Elysium Park rezoning ordinance (PDF, 3 pgs)

Sign up to speak & donate your time

We need help at the 8/4 hearing – our speakers will need more than the allotted 3 minutes per person. We need others to sign up to speak and then donate their time to our planned speakers. The catch: the person donating time must be present to acknowledge they are donating their time when the speaker walks to the podium. Our case could be at 4:00 or much later (even very late, as happened at the Zoning & Platting hearing). There is no way to predict when our case will be called.

To be sure our speakers get slots, we are signing up on Monday August 1 at noon.

If you are willing to attend and donate time to our speakers, please email your first and last name, address, phone and email address to northwoodvicepresident@gmail.com and cc northwoodsecretary@gmail.com no later than Sunday July 31.

Contact Council Member Pool before August 4!

Email or call Council Member Pool and the City’s project manager (details here)

Be at City Hall on Aug. 4 from 4 PM until ?

Our Neighborhood Association officers, zoning committee chair and several others plan to speak at the August 4 meeting. We need everyone to attend to show our support and to donate time! Each speaker is limited to 3 minutes unless another person who is present has signed up to speak and donate their time. An important detail: the person who is donating time must be present when we speak… no matter how late it is. 

Your presence is important even if you are not speaking or donating time. We will all wear tree name tags and, when asked by one of our speakers, everyone will stand to show support against the apartments. Council members DO take note of how many citizens attend the hearings.

Carpooling available

We are arranging carpooling: if you need a ride or are leaving from Northwood and can carry passengers, please contact Lynn, 512.341-8989.

MF-4 rezoning application not dependent on this project!

The 80-90 Elysium Park apartments are planned to include reduced rents, aka affordable housing units, thus they have requested 9% Housing Tax Credits (HTCs) from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. This is very competitive and there is no guarantee that the Elysium Park project will get the HTCs. Their project manager has stated that if they do not get the HTCs they will withdraw the project. But that does NOT mean the rezoning application is withdrawn.

Even if the Elysium Park project is canceled, the rezoning to MF-4 continues unless the requestor cancels it. Thus, if the City Council votes for this MF-4 rezoning, another developer could build several hundred market rate rent apartments – as many as the site will handle – on this land.

August 11 – the deciding vote / valid petition

The first reading and vote is on August 4; the public can speak for and against the rezoning.

During the August 11 meeting the second and third readings and votes are scheduled. The third reading’s vote decides the results. We need to attend to show our support. The good news… we have a “valid petition” (at least 20% of property owners within 200 ft of the tract signed a petition against the rezoning). At the third reading, because of the valid petition we only need 3 Council members to vote against it to stop the rezoning.

Contact Council Member re apartments rezoning

The first hearing / reading of case C14-2016-0023.SH Elysium Park, which proposes to rezone the undeveloped 7+ acres at 3300 Oak Creek Drive, located between the Pegasus Drive back yards and Walnut Creek/ MoPac Self Storage, is scheduled for August 4, 2016. Details on the hearing.

Contact City Council

AT LEAST once between now and the August 4 Council meeting, please call AND email our City Council Member Leslie Pool, Leslie.Pool@austintexas.gov, 512.978-2107.

Please also send ONE email to these Council members (emails addresses below).

In all emails cc the Zoning Project Manager Sherri Sirwaitis, Sherri.Sirwaitis@austintexas.gov  and NorthwoodSecretary@gmail.com so we can track the emails.

Email addresses

Please contact our Council Member Leslie Pool at least once now AND again between August 1-4.  Leslie.Pool@austintexas.gov; see below for the recommended subject line and other details.

Contact these Council Members once:
Steve.Adler@austintexas.govOra.Houston@austintexas.gov, Pio.Renteria@austintexas.govDon.Zimmerman@austintexas.gov,
Ellen.Troxclair@austintexas.govSheri.Gallo@austintexas.gov

cc Sherri.Sirwaitis@austintexas.gov,  NorthwoodSecretary@gmail.com

Email and phoning details

When emailing, include “opposed to C14-2016-0023.SH Elysium Park” as the subject. CC the Project Manager so your email is in the packet all Council Members receive and CC NorthwoodSecretary@gmail.com so we can track the emails.

Call Leslie Pool at 512.978-2107; if leaving a message include your name, that you live in (or near) Northwood and oppose the Elysium Park apartments at the start of your message, then add any details you wish.

When emailing or calling state that you are opposed to the rezoning and give reasons for your opposition. Focus on issues such as

  • increased risk of flooding – Oak Creek Drive it has been flooded twice recently and there was even a water rescue. The additional impervious cover of the apartments will increase the risk of flooding nearby and downstream by homes already in the flood plain
  • safety
    • reaching any business such as grocery, restaurant or bus stop on foot requires walking along an unprotected sidewalk next to the high speed frontage road traffic and crossing unprotected right turn lanes.
    • the location is close to railroad tracks; vehicles that want to turn onto Oak Creek Drive must often stop on the frontage road while waiting for the train to pass; adding more residents will only increase this danger.