Here's the text of a proposed Austin Neighborhoods Council resolution that was circulated today, a sort of obstructionist's manifesto. ANC wants the city to capitulate to neighorhood groups who want out of VMU zoning until the city holds "open discussions" with them. ANC's president openly endorsed the VMU standards last summer, of course, touting them as a "bargain" to channel dense development away from neighborhood interiors. I guess ANC expected the stringent design standards to scare off more development than it has.
I love the recitals. My favorite: ANC condemns the city for fostering sprawl on the city periphery while simultaneously complaining that the city's "pro-density posture . . . imposes a disproportionate impact on established neighborhoods." ("Established neighorhood" is ANC code for the expensive neighborhoods where most of ANC's executive committe members live.) These two statements can be reconciled only if you believe that it is the city's job to prop up those already-high central Austin home prices by limiting housing supply even further.
Thanks, ANC, for the steady source of material.
Proposed Resolution of the Austin Neighborhoods Council
Concerning the City of Austin Growth Policies
June 25, 2007
Whereas, the City has embarked on an unwritten policy concerning growth which has not undergone public discussion or endorsement by its citizens; and
Whereas, the City has failed to articulate or define long-term goals to be addressed in its growth policies; and
Whereas, the City has not conducted social, economic and environmental impact studies to afford a rational basis for such policies; and
Whereas, the City has failed to collaborate with other municipalities and political entities to pursue legislation that would limit sprawl in non-incorporated areas in Texas; and
Whereas, efforts to address sprawl by focusing solely on land-use within incorporated areas will have little effect; and
Whereas, the City has failed to manage density within its own boundaries as evidenced by allowing developments over the aquifer and allowing new developments on the periphery with large lots and huge houses; and
Whereas, the city has failed to rationally weigh the impact of its growth policies so as to assure an equitable balance of gains and losses for all stakeholders; and
Whereas, the City has failed to utilize transportation modeling technology that predicts and analyzes the impact of development on transportation modes; and
Whereas, the city has failed to conduct long-term housing studies that define the proper affordability mix and quantity of housing; and
Whereas, the lack of such a study undermines the City's policies for providing housing for its citizenry; and
Whereas, the present, pro-density posture of the City imposes a disproportionate impact on established neighborhoods; and
Whereas, the City has repeatedly favored dense developments that are incompatible with the plans of neighborhood planning areas, and
Whereas, the City has repeatedly adopted new zoning tools without conducting proper beta testing; and
Whereas, the present set of planning tools are inadequate in versatility and scope to provide neighborhoods with means by which to rationally manage density, transportation, economic development, housing and preserve and enhance quality of life; and
Therefore, the Austin Neighborhoods Council urges the City Council and Planning Commission to approve without exception the recommendations of neighborhoods and neighborhood planning areas concerning implementation of the Vertical Mixed-Use Ordinance and postpone all zoning cases entailing increased density, unless supported by neighborhood plans, until such time as the City has conducted valid studies and engaged its citizenry in open discussions that lead to a written growth policy and corresponding planning tools with which to implement such a policy.
Gov. Perry just signed a bill requiring new massage therapists to get 500 hours of training rather than 300. Crappy massages, you see, are a direr threat than diesel fumes. But I'm not being fair. The need for more training was obvious. Texas and that backwater Delaware were the only states to require less than 500 hundred hours of training (except for the 12 states that don't require any, that is.) It was only a matter of time until we experienced a spate of bad massages.
Let's just suppose that the city should be in the business of picking out local businesses to slather with money. That still does not explain why the city is willing to forgive the Las Manitas loan after five years. If the goal is merely iconopreservation, isn't the $750,000 loan enough to do the trick? The parties apparently think so. The city expects Las Manitas to make $45,000/year interest payments right off the bat, and Las Manitas apparently believes it can make those payments. In other words, they both seem to believe that Las Manitas will survive even if it has to pay interest. Then why forgive the loan after five years? Either Las Manitas is still in business after five years -- in which case it has been successfully "retained," and needs no further subsidy -- or it's out of business, in which case the $750,000 was a bad investment which the city should try to recoup.