During the past several months, while the Contact Team has been discussing the possibility of amending the Hyde Park NCCDs to allow accessory dwelling units on lots between 5750 and 7000 square feet, one thing that has become apparent is that, despite efforts at explanation, many Hyde Park residents are not clear about just what the Hyde Park Contact Team is and what its relationship to HPNA is.
The Hyde Park Neighborhood Association and the Hyde Park Contact Team are two entirely separate organizations. While HPNA has an official liaison who attends the Contact Team meetings and keeps HPNA informed about the actions of the Contact Team, neither organization is a committee or functionary of the other.
In 2000, Hyde Park created a Neighborhood Plan under the direction of the City of Austin. Other geographical areas did the same, although in all other cases, the geographical areas were not one individual neighborhood like Hyde Park but larger areas consisting of several neighborhoods. Hyde Park is the only individual neighborhood that has its own Neighborhood Plan. Several years later, the City of Austin created Contact Teams to handle those neighborhood plans. Just as Hyde Park is the only individual neighborhood with its own plan, Hyde Park is the only individual neighborhood with its own Contact Team.
The mandate of the Hyde Park Contact Team, according to its bylaws, is “to review and make recommendations on all proposed amendments to the adopted Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan.” The purpose of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, on the other hand, is 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.”
The Contact Team and the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association differ in the following ways:
- Eligibility for membership: The HPNA is open to anyone who lives in (or within 300 feet of) Hyde Park, both owners and renters. The Hyde Park Contact Team includes property owners, residential renters, and business owners with a physical Hyde Park address upon which they pay taxes.
- Dues: The HPNA has dues; the Hyde Park Contact Team does not.
- Voting requirements: The HPNA requires a 30-day waiting period after an individual pays dues; the Hyde Park Contact Team requires that an individual must have attended a meeting within the past 9 months.
- Meetings: The HPNA meets monthly; the Hyde Park Contact Team meets quarterly.
In practical terms, what does this mean? For one thing, it means that if you want to be able to have input into the Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan, you need to join the Contact Team. This isn’t difficult; just show up at the next meeting (July 28). Your voting rights will be secure for the following nine months and you will receive agendas of upcoming meetings, so you can attend those that announce votes on topics that concern you. For another thing, because the constituencies of the two groups differ, it is possible for the HPNA and the Hyde Park Contact Team to come down on different sides of the same issue.
The best thing that you, as a concerned Hyde Parker, can do is to become a voting member of both groups and attend meetings for both groups. It is the only way to be sure that you have a say in any and all issues that arise in the Hyde Park neighborhood.
–Kevin Heyburn and Lorre Weidlich