It’s My Park Day is on March 7, 2015 from 9:00 am till 12 noon.
Each year, thousands of volunteers work to improve Shipe Park and other parks & greenbelts throughout the city.
”It’s My Park Day” at Shipe Park is organized each year by the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association & the Friends of Shipe Park, two neighborhood groups committed to preserving Shipe Park with community building events throughout the year. For more info & Volunteer Registration go to http://www.austinparks.org/
Give Shipe Park a little TLC! We will be mulching the trees, spreading dillo dirt, cleaning the creek, repainting the benches, picnic tables and trashcans, removing graffiti, removing leaves from the large pool and small pool, adding the gravel back into the swing and playscape area.
Cool, free t-shirts to all registrants & fun live music & snacks will be provided. See you there !
I like the sharp pointy fingers
of palm tree fans, brown at the tips,
spreading wide like a witch’s hand
to cast coastal spells on the sky.
Most of all I love the habit
of liking things. That makes this
my welcome home party
for a few good friends.
I was very glad to see Alejandro Puyana’s opinion piece in January’s Pecan Press (“Is HPNA Inclusive and Democratic”) and read his views about the effect of the neighborhood association’s bylaws on democracy, participation and inclusiveness. I agree with almost everything he had to say; however, I believe overall attitudes and behavior affect inclusiveness and participation issues as much as or more than the bylaws themselves.
Like Mr. Puyana, I also attended the December meeting, witnessed what he described, and overheard others on the sidewalk after the meeting expressing the same views. Although that meeting didn’t differ much from other monthly meetings I’ve attended, I don’t recall ever hearing quite as much dissent and disgust after the meeting. As Mr. Puyana stated, many Hyde Park residents feel shut out of decision-making, for a variety of reasons.
His description of the current HPNA decision makers as old guard and their allies is useful; and so for the purpose of this discussion, I’d like to adopt that term, abbreviating it as OG. And for want of a better term, to distinguish the amorphous group not so aligned with it, I shall designate as other members (OMs). The lines between them are sometimes blurry and do not correspond to the length of time one has lived in the neighborhood. I myself have owned a home in Hyde Park for more than 20 years, have lived in “the hood” for longer than that, and have fought alongside and supported the OG on several issues over the years; but sometimes even I feel like an OM and an outsider when condescended to by the OG.
Although I try to keep current on neighborhood issues and communicate with my own neighbors, I do not regularly attend monthly meetings: I find them tedious at best, and an unhealthy dose of snark at worst. But I force myself to attend at least every few months, especially if the agenda includes voting. True to form, the meeting and discussion that night (specifically, the discussion regarding the requested zoning and repurposing of the house at 45th and Speedway) was pretty much par for the course.
I was pleased to notice so many OMs in attendance that night. Like many of them, I saw the idea of the café as a plus for our neighborhood. But of course the OG had a different opinion; and, as usual, they prevailed. The OG did make some good arguments against the zoning request, but what I object to is the tone in which those arguments were made. As Mr. Puyana noted in his letter, the attitude that the OG projects is that any change is bad and “get off my lawn.” And even if that isn’t always the case, what I witnessed that night was the all-too-familiar attitude of smugness and “you just don’t know what you’re talking about, but we do, and so we’re right and you’re wrong.”
As someone who feels she can see both sides of this divide, I’d like to address each group separately in what follows.
To OMs: First, thank you for coming out to support Tony Hooman, the owner of the property in question, and your idea for change in the “hood.” Even though you felt shut out and overpowered that night, please don’t let that stop you from continuing to come out again in the future to make your voices heard, to participate, to serve on committees, and even to change the bylaws if necessary. Whatever you do, do not allow yourself to fall prey to the same “snark” that the OG often relies on. If you do succumb, you become one of them (it’s too late for me, but save yourselves).
At the same time, please keep the big picture in mind. Recognize that many of the good things about this neighborhood exist thanks to the efforts of the OG. If they had not dug in their heels and fought the good fight over many years, Hyde Park would not be the neighborhood that drew you here in the first place. It long ago would have been bulldozed and replaced with something much less unique and inviting. So, yes, perhaps they often seem adverse to even small changes that they see as perhaps leading to more drastic, undesirable changes; but whenever you have the chance, please thank a member of the OG for what they’ve done so far on your behalf.
To the OG: First, thank you for the years of hard work, long hours, and sometimes thankless commitment to preserve the neighborhood as we know it. Many of you actually accomplish your goals with grace and respect.
But some of you do not and you need to lose the attitude, or at least dial back the snark. Please stop patronizing your own neighbors and being so dismissive of their views. My husband and I used to volunteer for neighborhood committees and projects, but dropped out along the way because of all the snarkiness, even among people who largely agree with each other. We now direct our volunteer efforts elsewhere.
Next, please choose your battles more carefully. The current campaign to “Keep 45th St. Residential” seems tone deaf and weak. Many businesses are currently located on 45th St. The house in question, in fact, faces Speedway. Perhaps “Keep Speedway Residential” might have resonated a little more clearly.
And finally, I would say to the OG, stop undermining your own efforts. During monthly meetings, please don’t always be poised to shoot down anyone opposed to your ideas. Sit down and really listen to your neighbors, including the OMs. It doesn’t help the neighborhood to replace actual bulldozers with human bulldozers. What will we have really gained if we don’t maintain a sense of community and a sense of camaraderie? So, enough already.
The January 2015 Hyde Park Neighborhood Association meeting was called to order at 7:06 p.m. by Lorre Weidlich, co-president.
The first item on the agenda was discussion of the budget for the neighborhood association. I. Jay Aarons, treasurer, presented the proposed 2015 budget adopted by the Finance Committee, along with 2014 budget and 2014 actual expenditures. The two largest sources of revenue and expenditures for the organization are the Pecan Press and the Hyde Park Homes Tour. Early in 2015, Pecan Press ad rates, as well as other potential new revenue sources, will be explored. Additionally, the proposed 2015 budget included increases in the allotment for treasurer and parks and public spaces. The increase in the treasurer’s budget is to offset the increase in the cost related to accounting services, and the increase in the parks and public spaces budget is to support a new community garden project.
Some discussion occurred regarding the amount of money spent on events and volunteer appreciation activities. I. Jay Aarons said it was his understanding that the money being spent is consistent with IRS rules for 501(c)(4) organizations like HPNA, but he would look into the rules to ensure that the organization is in compliance. Additionally, the new budget contains donations for both the Griffin School and the Trinity United Methodist Church since the organization has been using both sites for meetings.
Adrian Skinner made a motion to approve the budget and the motion was seconded by Doris Coward. The budget was approved 24 for and 0 against.
The meeting then turned to recognition and appreciation for the volunteers within the organization that assist in putting on the numerous events. Adrian Skinner, co-vice president, led the recognition. Some of the events and activities that the organization relies on its volunteers for include the DRC Committee, Fire Station Festival, Graffiti Abatement, Homes Tour, Egg Scramble, Parks Committee, Holiday Party, Adam Wilson and the Griffin School, Trinity United Methodist, the Membership Committee, and the Officers and Steering Committee. Volunteers for each of these groups were asked to stand and be recognized. Dorothy Richter noted that the strength of the organization is its volunteers and spirit of volunteerism. Cake from Quack’s bakery was provided to all in attendance.
The meeting was adjourned at about 7:30 p.m.
–Submitted by Artie Gold and Reid Long
Editor’s Note: This issue marks the inauguration of “From the Archives,” an occasional series in which the Pecan Press will reprint articles from times past that still seem relevant and of interest. And indeed, as to the first article in this series, references to the North Hyde Park NCCD have popped up at any number of recent HPNA and Contact Team meetings. This piece, announcing and celebrating the adoption of this planning document by City Council, appeared in the September 2005 issue and was written by Karen McGraw, then chair of the Hyde Park Planning Team.
The North Hyde Park Neighborhood Conservation Combining District (NCCD) was adopted by the City Council on August 18, 2005. All property in the boundaries was included except for 4505 Duval—the Oak Park Apartments—and one other lot that had a notification problem.
The Planning Team reached agreement with the owner of the Oak Park Apartments on August 1st. By the time you read this we expect that this will also be adopted. Thanks to the City for their tremendous help and diligent staff. Thanks also to the City Council members, each of whom voted for this rezoning! This completes the rezoning for our neighborhood and culminates many previous planning efforts that go back as far as 1985 when Austin neighborhood leaders (including Hyde Park neighbors) got the NCCD tool into the city code. Many, many neighbors have devoted their time and energy to these efforts and we should all be proud of this great achievement.
The NCCD will require new development to be compatible with existing traditional development patterns. Several things of note are: the Planning Team negotiated for months with the owner of 4500 Duval (site of current auto repair business) with a concern for safety since the site has all open curb and no defined driveways. In recent weeks, Council Member Brewster McCracken came forward and offered to help get the construction of proper sidewalks and driveways included in the current reconstruction of 45th Street. With the help of the City Manager and City staff and the cooperation of the property owner, this safety improvement made the Planning Team comfortable to allow various auto-related uses to be permitted on this site in the future.
The agreement reached between the Planning Team and the owner of Oak Park Apartments permits a future mixed use development near the intersection of 45th and Duval (that already had commercial zoning) and up to 45’ height in its interior, and multi-family use (current zoning) on the rest of the lot with reduced height and other protections adjacent to single family uses. Mixed use will also be permitted at 4510, 5011 and 5012 Duval with maximum height of 35’. Several property owners along Avenue A agreed to reduced building heights in exchange for slightly higher impervious cover and a reduced setback along Avenue A.
Of most importance are the revisions to the single family areas. Front yard parking will only be allowed under certain conditions, height limit is reduced to 30’ and 2.5 stories, front yard fences may not exceed 4’ and must be 40% open, driveway widths are reduced, ground floor uses are required (no stilts), garages are not allowed on the front except in certain cases, setbacks must line up with traditional houses (west of Duval) and various other protections to the traditional character. The lot size for duplexes and two-family use remains 7,000 square feet except on Avenue A where it is 6,000 square feet. While there are many new provisions that are more restrictive, there are also provisions that are less restrictive and should be of help to property owners while still preserving neighborhood character. These include setback averaging, rebuilding of non-complying accessory buildings, larger garage apartments on some corner lots and some reduced setbacks.
Finally, we agreed with the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department to two programs to facilitate affordable housing. Single-family attached use (otherwise a loophole allowing super-duplexes) may now only be used to subdivide an older duplex if one side is an affordable unit. Size limits control this and should control the occupancy. The other program allows some leniency in redeveloping multi-family properties on Duval Street if it includes 10% affordable housing units. Keep in mind that these changes only affect new development and new permits, not existing development. The ordinance should be available soon.
We appreciated Alejandro Puyana taking the time to express his concerns in an article in last month’s Pecan Press, but we have to disagree with most of his points.
We disagree that “HPNA bylaw provisions seem to ensure that an old guard and their allies come out ahead on all votes.” We think HPNA encourages and values participation. While it is true that HPNA members don’t agree on all issues, as witnessed by the diversity of viewpoints in the Pecan Press, including his article, we have found that all of our members work to promote what they believe to be the greater good of the neighborhood. We don’t know the source of Alejandro’s quote, “HPNA bylaws specifically do not require that the association represent the interests of Hyde Park residents,” but HPNA bylaws provide that the neighborhood association promotes maximum livability for all residents, and membership is open to both home owners and renters.
The mission of our neighborhood association goes far beyond holding meetings to cast votes. HPNA has worked for over 30 years to preserve and protect the neighborhood. It arose out of efforts to preserve the fire station, something that benefits all Hyde Park residents. It has worked to preserve houses and trees. It provides parties and potlucks designed to make the neighborhood a community. It provides movies and the egg scramble to champion the children in the ‘hood. It provides programs at meetings designed to educate neighbors about issues and resources. It addresses zoning issues based on a concern with maintaining the quality of neighborhood life. And HPNA has always appreciated the businesses in the neighborhood as part of what makes Hyde Park “a village in a city.”
The 30-day period required before voting is no different from the voting rules of Travis County, and the rule seems to work pretty well for HPNA. We try to make sure that neighbors have ample time to be informed of the issues and sign up to vote before an issue comes up for a vote. Our goal is to have all of the members of HPNA engaged with all of the issues that shape our community and we want attendees at our meetings, whether they are members or not, to feel that their views are heard and respected.
At the urging our treasurer, the Steering Committee has decided to explore issues related to the business side of the Pecan Press, such as distribution, production costs, and advertising prices. The new committee assigned to this task consists of Betsy Clubine and I. Jay Aarons, co-chairs, and additional members Ellie Hanlon and Kevin Heyburn. They will work with the editor to make sure he has the resources he needs to continue to put out a quality publication. If you have thoughts about how to make the Pecan Press a wider circulated and more profitable publication, please get in touch with any of the committee members.
Our membership co-chairs, Karen Saadeh and Sharon Brown, with the addition of Debbie Wallenstein and Travis Turner, will be assuming the efforts of the Outreach Committee. Do you have a new neighbor? Let one of them know! It is our intention to welcome everyone to Hyde Park and to encourage them to become part of the Hyde Park community, including the neighborhood association.
–Kevin Heyburn & Lorre Weidlich
30,000 Hard to find Certified Organic Tomato and Wicked Hot/Sweet Bell Pepper Plants, Herbs go on sale March 7, 2015.
Austin’s most loved, locally raised heirloom veggies and herbs make their big debut 9 A.M. at Sunshine Community Gardens, March 7. The largest Certified Organic Non-Profit Plant sale in Texas includes 150 Tomato varieties, 72 Wicked Hot and Sweet Bell Pepper varieties, 15 kinds of Eggplants, and thousands of herbs ready for spring planting.
The first bite of a delicious and juicy home grown organic tomato will make you beg for more. Improve your health with regular gardening exercise. Save big money by growing your own organic vegetables. A complete list of plants on sale and varieties to grow for the Austin area go to Sunshine Community Gardens.
For a Fun-Filled day, come early, Learn organic gardening practices. Talk with Vendors. Listen to Live Music.
Walk the 180 gardens. Kids love to visit the Chicken Coop. Purchase Lady Bug compost for your plants too!