From the Desk of the Co-Presidents – August 2014

This month, we are going to continue the process we began in last month’s letter: clarifying some of the terms that have been discussed—and often confused—during the recent discussions about accessory dwelling units. What is the difference between the Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan and the two Hyde Park Neighborhood Conservation Combining Districts (NCCDs) and what is the relationship between the two?

What is a Neighborhood Plan?

The Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan is just what its name implies: a plan. Imagine Austin is a plan for the entire city; it updates the original 20-year-old city plan. The neighborhood plans for the various geographical areas in Austin are additions to the city plan.  A neighborhood plan provides goals that the neighborhood wants to achieve and a vision of the way a specific neighborhood wants to develop over time.

The Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan, which applies to all of the greater Hyde Park area, specifies the following goals:

  1. Preserve and enhance the unique historic and residential character of HP.
  2. Preserve and enhance the unique and historic streetscape patterns of HP.
  3. Promote a neighborhood-friendly system of transportation.
  4. Maintain and improve public infrastructure consistent with existing neighborhood patterns.
  5. Protect and enhance the Guadalupe corridor and other commercial areas.
  6. Foster a genuine community of neighbors of every age and background.
  7. Preserve and enhance the natural beauty, open spaces and watershed systems of the neighborhood.
  8. Promote safety and reduce crime.

Each of these goals has a list of objectives that make the goals more specific.

What is an NCCD?

An NCCD is very different. It is a city ordinance; specifically, it is a zoning overlay. It modifies the basic city land development code. It can make the stipulations in that code either stricter or looser, depending on the patterns prevalent in the neighborhood to which it applies. If an issue is not specified in an NCCD, basic city land development code applies. For example, the Hyde Park NCCD does not specify FAR (floor area ratio). Therefore, the FAR specified in Austin land development code (set by the ordinance known as the McMansion ordinance) applies in the parts of Hyde Park covered by the two Hyde Park NCCDs.

Those two NCCDs are the Hyde Park NCCD, which covers greater Hyde Park south of 45th Street (south to 38th Street, between Guadalupe and Duval), and the North Hyde Park NCCD, which covers the remainder of the greater Hyde Park area (north of 45th Street, between Guadalupe and Red River). Any zoning revision that intends to change the land development standards of greater Hyde Park needs to address and modify both of these NCCDs. The two NCCDs (like the LHD) are designed to implement the Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan. That is why they are more precise and more recent than the Neighborhood Plan.

Follow Up to Last Month’s Letter: Advocacy

A further similarity between the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association and the Contact Team is that both advocate for their stakeholders. The Contact Team bylaws state the following: “It is also the responsibility of the Hyde Park Contact Team to work on behalf of all stakeholders in the neighborhood planning area.” The Hyde Park Neighborhood Association does the same thing. HPNA bylaws state the following: “HPNA exists to foster a closer, more genuine community of neighbors and to preserve the historic and unique character, amenities, and ecology of the community of Hyde Park. This is accomplished by providing a forum through meetings of HPNA and its committees for pursuing a variety of goals beneficial to the community and by combining the efforts of the residents in effecting the improvement, restoration and preservation of the Hyde Park community.” HPNA advocacy activities range from adopting resolutions intended to promote the welfare of the neighborhood (for example, the occupancy limits resolution) to working toward legislation designed to protect the neighborhood (for example, the NCCDs and the LHD). The crucial difference between the Contact Team and the HPNA is the stakeholders in each group and the scope of each group’s mandate.

Thanks to the Friends of Shipe Park

Our appreciation goes to the Friends of Shipe Park for their organization of our sixth annual pool party. TheLego Movie and wonderful music added up to a great evening of entertainment. We look forward to another great Shipe Park event in August, when we gather there for our annual ice cream social.

–Kevin Heyburn and Lorre Weidlich

HPNA Co-Presidents