Page 2 of 18

December in Sonoma (Poem)

The maples are in full flame,

Here in Sonoma,

Driving to and through

Wine country

Is both daunting and awe-inspiring

 

If you have ever cursed the rain,

You must never have seen

Cloudlets shrouding firs of deepest green

Rising behind a flaming yellow,

No, orange, or red, or all three

In a cacophony of color

Set off by the gray, early in the day.

 

Words swirl through my humbled mind

As nature, once again,

Brings me to my knees.

 

–Herzele

12/10/10

Another Velvet Morning (Poem)

Another velvet morning

Air, luscious, caressing skin,

Flutters the fabric of my night garb,

The day is only beginning,

Time suspended

 

Will the sun shine, moisture rising,

Will it rain, the moisture adhere,

Caressing flora the way the velvet

Touches my skin?

 

Rain and sun, together,

Water, light, and heat,

Rise, disperse, and steaming,

Filling space between earth and sky,

Filling air between the night and day,

Expands until it overflows,

Seeping into the night,

 

Softening the edges of the stars,

Cushioning the edges of the dreams

That might pierce the night, if not somehow

Softened by the errant steam,

Rising from the marriage of

Rain and sun, softening the morning,

Another velvet morning.

 

–Herzele

11/12/12

Air Conditioner (Poem)

White noise, soothing, silencing
Making the sheets cold.

–Adam Callaway

Voting Matters at the November 3, 2014 HPNA Meeting

The following drafts of two items will be discussed and voted on at the general meeting on Nov. 3:

A Letter of Thanks

To Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Council Members Laura Morrison, Kathie Tovo, Mike Martinez, Chris Riley, and Bill Spelman; PARD Director Sara Hensley, Assistant Director Kimberly McNeeley, Aquatics Manager Cheryl Bolin, and PARD Staff:

On behalf of the local community, the members of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association would like to express our gratitude to this City Council for the approval of a Parks and Recreation Department budget that sets aside $6.2 million to renovate or replace both Shipe and Govalle pools.

Neighborhood parks and pools provide an essential public service and are assets to our communities. In addition to the reprieve they provide during hot summer months, local pools are a safe social setting for children during summer recess, an opportunity for young adults to learn life-saving techniques as lifeguards, and a gathering place for neighbors.

Thank you for your dedication to our parks system and to Shipe Pool. We’re excited to see the results of your commitment to restore our neighborhood pool.

Enthusiastically,

HPNA officers


A Resolution on City Council ADU Resolutions

City Council resolutions concerning Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) should not override the neighborhood planning process or neighborhood plans. Therefore the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association does not support a city-wide or blanket policy change pertaining to the construction of ADUs, such as the Martinez-Riley resolution passed by the City Council on June 12, 2014. We see our neighborhood plan, which grew out of a process of civic participation, as central to maintaining the character and the quality of life of our neighborhood.

Around and About the Avenues – November 2014

Please Vote: This publication urges all eligible voters in the neighborhood to vote on or before Tuesday November 4. Apart from races at the federal level, crucial state, county, and city positions are up for election, including bond propositions on such matters as transportation and Austin Community College. The ballot will be challengingly long. This election of course will also inaugurate a new governance structure in Austin, with all the questions and uncertainties that will bring. This election is too important to leave it up to others to decide.

*          *          *          *          *

Fire Station Festival: We have every confidence that the festival on October 19 was a great success, but the event happened too late for a report in this issue. Coverage, including photos, announcements of winners and honorees, and expressions of thanks to volunteers and sponsors, will appear in the December issue.

*          *          *          *          *

Mark Your Calendars: The annual Hyde Park Holidays Party will take place Sunday, December 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Elisabet Ney Museum. Drinks and refreshments will be served. Leave a wish on the Wish Tree! If you would like to volunteer to help with the party, please contact Tammy Young.

*          *          *          *          *

Pecan Press News: The editor warmly welcomes Deaton Bednar to this publication’s Advisory Board. She joins Grant Thomas, Lisa Harris, and Kevin Heyburn.   That’s an impressive crew, to say the least. On another note, readers might be wondering where the minutes of the October HPNA general meeting are. They were not submitted for publication. And lastly, several very reasonably-minded neighbors mentioned that they found a passage in a recent article to be offensive. Others must have, too. The editor apologies for this oversight. Although he didn’t originally read the passage as offensive, it is his duty to make sure that the publication remains free of passages that might be taken as offensive. Passionate advocacy is fine, but the language and tone must remain civil and respectful. The editor promises to be more vigilant.

*          *          *          *          *

Opportunity To Support Austin’s Architectural and Cultural Past: Inherit Austin, a membership group within Preservation Austin, will host its fifth annual “Somewhere in Time” fundraising dinner at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5 at Formosa, the onetime home and studio of sculptor Elisabet Ney (304 East 44th Street). Guests can enjoy drinks and dinner under the stars and tour the historic property purchased in 1892 by Ney, which became a gathering place for influential Texans drawn to “Miss Ney” and stimulating discussions of politics, art and philosophy. Following Ney’s death in 1907, her friends preserved the studio and its contents as the Elisabet Ney Museum. Since 1941, Formosa has been a property of the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department. Tickets are $100 per guest.

*          *          *          *          *

Host International Students: Simply International is a local business that helps international students at UT and other local colleges find housing, furniture, transportation, and cell phones. Many students from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East want to live with families near the UT campus. Hosting a student for one semester or two pays cultural dividends in addition to the $700 per month compensation. Common questions can be answered at  under “Become a Host.” Those interested in informally exploring the possibilities with a knowledgeable neighbor can contact Travis Vilmont.

From the Desk of the Co-Presidents – November 2014

It’s that time of year again, when neighborhood activities follow each other in quick succession, winding up with our holiday party in December. Coming as they do in conjunction with election time and a general pickup in activity due to cooler weather, they foretell a busy period during autumn and early winter. Our Fire Station Festival is our annual turning inward, celebrating what we as a community have achieved over the 40 years of the revival of our neighborhood. Our Homes Tour is our annual turning outward, displaying our rich history and architecture to the public.

Fire Station Festival

This year’s festival was once again a wonderful occasion for both children and adults. Good food, good company, costumes, and a sense of celebration added up to a great event. As we always do, we recognized our fire fighters and we recognized the people who have contributed to our community. We want to thank Deaton Bednar and her dedicated team of volunteers for an occasion enjoyed by all.

Hyde Park Homes Tour

Everyone in Hyde Park has heard of Col. Monroe Shipe, Elisabet Ney, and Shadow Lawn, but how many Hyde Parkers have heard of W.T. Caswell, J.J. Hegman, and Patterson Heights? This year, we begin to mine the rich history and architecture of the area north of 45th Street in our first Homes Tour that focuses entirely on that area. Carolyn Grimes and her team have been working on this tour for many months; and we encourage everyone both to volunteer as a docent, ticket seller, or other participant and to take the tour and learn some of the lesser-known history of Hyde Park.

Congratulations to Dorothy Richter

Hyde Park has always been familiar with the achievements of Dorothy Richter, the “Mayor of Hyde Park,” and we’ve always appreciated them. Now the City of Austin joins us in that recognition: on October 22, Dorothy was inducted into the Austin Women’s Hall of Fame, an honor long overdue. We extend our congratulations to her and hope for her continuing success and contributions to the community.

— Kevin Heyburn & Lorre Weidlich

HPNA Co-Presidents

Pecan Press – November 2014

Pecan Press November 2014

Fire Station Festival – Forty Years and Counting

Yes, now in its 40th year, this year’s annual Fire Station Festival will take place on Sunday, October 19. As preparations are under way, coordinators can already tell that this year will be something truly special.

Hosted by HPNA and sponsored by Grande Communications, the festival will again provide an opportunity for neighbors of all ages to come together on what we hope will be a beautiful fall day, commemorate the saving of our fire station, and celebrate our great community.  Indeed, over the years the festival has become the community-building event in Hyde Park. Hundreds and hundreds of people participate.

The festival will kick off in Shipe Park at 3:55 p.m. sharp with a lively 6-block parade. Children, adults, and pets are encouraged to debut their Halloween costumes while marching in the procession, which will be led by a fire truck and drummers of the Eastside Panther Band. Participants in the parade arrive at 3:30 p.m. to line up.

The festivities will lead to Fire Station 9 at 43rd Street and Speedway, where food and live music by Beatles tribute band The Eggmen await.

At the 2013 Fire Station Festival, Deaton Bednar was seen taking time out to participate in the fun.  This year, she is once again chairing the event, with much appreciation from her neighbors.  Photo: Lizzie Chen

At the 2013 Fire Station Festival, Deaton Bednar was seen taking time out to participate in the fun. This year, she is once again chairing the event, with much appreciation from her neighbors. Photo: Lizzie Chen

As always, festival-goers will have the opportunity to enter the costume contest for prizes in categories like scariest, funniest, best pet, and best family. The classic fishing booth will also be returning, this year with a new look and many more prizes to be won from Toy Joy.

Little ones and kids can bet on enjoying a range of crafts and a puppet show by Hey Lolly Productions.

There will also be plenty of activities for the older kids to engage in. Sit for hair sculpture and flash tattoos. Shoot hoops against others for prizes. Take wacky portraits in the photo booth (sponsored by Carolyn Grimes of Coldwell Banker United Realtors).

This year, HPNA is excited to be partnering with BookSpring, a local organization that is dedicated to promoting children’s literacy. Neighbors can help support this cause, beginning now, by bringing gently used K-6 books to Fresh Plus on 43rd Street. There will also be a collection box at the festival.

The Fire Station Festival is the prime fall event for Hyde Park residents to share good spirits, mingle with firefighters, and appreciate our neighborhood’s strengths that make the afternoon possible. All are welcome.

 

–Mary Lynam

Staff Writer Intern

A Victory Lap for the Shipe Pools

Such great and welcome news for Hyde Park! On September 9, the Austin City Council approved a 2015 budget package that included a last minute additional request for money to replace 7 pools, including both Shipe Pools. In a recent aquatics assessment, these 7 pools were predicted to “suffer mechanical or structural failure within five years.”

While the City Council could not find the money in this budget cycle to replace all the pools, they did select the Shipe Pools and Govalle Pool to receive $6.3 million, with Shipe receiving $3.1 million for replacement of the aging pools and mechanical systems.  The budget also included funds to reopen the new Bartholomew Pool as a year round pool effective as soon as they can schedule the lifeguards and prep the pool.

According to Cheryl Bolin, aquatics director, the money will be received in October and set aside while the process of community input, design, bidding and construction is conducted.

 

The crowd at Shipe does cannonballs to mark the pool’s closing for the year on Sunday, August 24

The crowd at Shipe does cannonballs to mark the pool’s closing for the year on Sunday, August 24. Photo: Clif Wright

Hyde Parkers will have much to think about as they identify goals for the new pools. What would residents like to see in a new Shipe Pool? Diving board?  Swim meets?  Or should it retain the same footprint with new facilities? The new Westenfield Pool is a recent example of an aging pool that was replaced with a big pool, along with a fun baby pool area, bathroom, first-aid office, equipment storage area, native landscaping, sculptures and shade structures.

We applaud Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) for bucking the national trend of closing neighborhood pools in favor of big municipal ones, something that has happened in Dallas and Houston. Fort Worth also lost all of its neighborhood pools until the community managed to reopen one of them with private funding. Austin City Council and PARD listened and responded to our requests to keep our neighborhood pools open, in accord with the Imagine Austin plan. We salute Council member Laura Morrison who has chosen to focus on neighborhood pools as one of her legacies and Kathie Tovo for her tireless support of our neighborhoods and parks, including Shipe Park. And we thank Chris Riley, Sheryl Cole, Bill Spelman and the entire City Council for voting to save Shipe Pool!

Stay tuned to the Hyde Park listserv and the facebook page Friends of Shipe Park or Shipepark.org for more information regarding the community input portion of the process. Exciting days are ahead.

 

–Alison Young

Friends of Shipe Park

The ADU Controversy: Two Opinion Pieces

From Karen McGraw

There are many questions surrounding the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) resolution initiated by Council Members Chris Riley and Mike Martinez.  It was adopted June 12 on a vote of 4-3 (Council Member Spelman and Mayor Leffingwell concurring and Council Members Morrison, Tovo and Cole voting no) to allow small second dwellings on every lot as small as 5,750 square feet all across Austin. The resolution directs the city manager to hold a stakeholder process and come back with a recommendation by October 12.  

In addition to reducing minimum lot size for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), the Council resolution triggering this proposal specifically contemplates changes to eliminate driveway and parking requirements, reduce building separation requirements, increase the maximum gross floor area for second-story ADUs, and allow a legally non-complying structure to add an ADU (for example, if your neighbor’s original garage is built on your property line without the setback required under current code, they’d be allowed to add a dwelling unit to it).  For details, visit http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=213071.

The resolution would potentially allow two dwelling units on almost every lot in Hyde Park, regardless of impacts on traffic, parking, infrastructure, and the privacy of nearby neighbors without appropriate zoning protections.

It’s been claimed these new units will increase affordability, though given escalating construction costs, rising property taxes, additional home insurance, and ongoing maintenance, the math on this is far from clear. Further, homeowners contemplating such an addition should be aware that they will lose their homestead property tax exemption on any portion of their property that is rented out, as one City Council member recently learned the hard way.

ADUs have also been touted as a way to increase available housing stock in Austin, but the current proposal makes no mention of prohibiting their use as short-term rentals (STRs, aka hotel rooms). Absent such a prohibition, many of these new units will likely not provide actual housing options for Austin residents.

Hyde Park neighbors spent years working to establish a type of zoning called a Neighborhood Conservation Combining District (NCCD) to protect many of the things we all love about this area. Our NCCDs allow two-family use on lots at least 7,000 square feet with standard city parking requirements (currently three spaces for two-family use in the urban core, or four spaces elsewhere.)  Since two of the required parking spaces may be “tandem” or stacked in a driveway, we already have extra cars on the street for many existing dwellings. Waiving all parking requirements for these new units will only add more cars to our streets.

Council Member Kathie Tovo countered (seconded by CM Morrison) the R/M proposal by suggesting it be established as a planning tool of choice, to be implemented only via the well-defined neighborhood planning process but these proposals were rejected by the makers. Because each neighborhood is different and certain areas within neighborhoods present different lot sizes and parking patterns, this sensible approach would allow for more fine-grained changes, ensuring that any new additional units do not overburden existing infrastructure or negatively impact the health, safety and privacy of immediate neighbors. It does not make sense to override all neighborhood plans by forcing this type of change as a blanket citywide policy. While the HP Contact Team has been discussing this issue and has not reached a position, it remains that the City Council could enact a measure that could completely override Hyde Park’s NCCDs. This is the reason for a stakeholder process and I think we should participate in that opportunity.

The current chair of Hyde Park’s Contact Team, Pete Gilcrease, stated at the September 8 Hyde Park Neighborhood Association (HPNA) meeting that if City Council enacts a version of an ADU proposal that applies citywide to all neighborhoods without any qualifications, “it won’t matter” what neighbors think. For this reason, I strongly believe we should weigh in on this issue as a group during the current stakeholder process and we should consider the issue as individuals in deciding whom to vote for in the upcoming City Council election.

To that end, I have asked the HPNA Steering Committee to place the item on the October 6 agenda for discussion and the November 3 agenda for a vote. I have also requested the Hyde Park Contact Team take a position on this issue at its October 27 meeting. The City Manager is expected to bring the ADU proposal back to City Council on October 12, but action will not likely occur before the November election.

In closing, I believe the City Council should respect the city’s well-established neighborhood planning process and allow changes such as this only after careful local consideration and widespread notification and input. I hope you will join me in urging a more considered approach to a proposal that has the potential to change the fabric of our neighborhood—and the daily lives of many residents—for a long time to come.

 

From Adrian Skinner

Much press has been given to matters concerning Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) over the last several months, both at the city and local level.  As residents and property owners in Hyde Park have debated the issue locally, City Council is considering a new ordinance, led by Chris Riley, which would ease parking requirements and other restrictions in an effort to encourage the development of homes less than 500 sq. ft. on existing residential lots around the city.

Many of our community members are concerned about the impact a citywide ordinance could have on Hyde Park.  Austin is growing and with growth comes change; the central question in the ADU debate is how Hyde Park ought to grow and change with Austin.  Opponents of the Riley ADU proposal fear the worst—bumper to bumper parking up and down the avenues, eroding property values, loss of green space, and mounting noise and trash issues as the neighborhood population increases. Some have also concluded that building affordable housing in Hyde Park through ADUs is not financially feasible.

I agree that these concerns must be given their due attention.  The city has a responsibility to enforce the codes around trash left curbside and noise violations that disturb the peace.  However, it would be misguided for us to assert a “right to park” on public streets.  The public street in front of my house does not belong to me; and unless a resident parking permit zone is established, anyone may lawfully park there.  Certainly, I’d rather have a view of my neighbor’s lawn and trees but the equity of public services, like our streets, is that they exist for the good of all.

Rather than focus on personal household decisions like financial feasibility, we ought to view the current Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan requirements that allow some property owners to build an ADU through an equity lens.  Provided that the requirements pertaining to impervious cover, floor to area ratio, setback, off street parking, design compatibility, and preservation of heritage trees are met, is it equitable to treat the property owner of a lot smaller than 7,000 sq. ft. differently from the property owner of a lot larger than 7,000 sq. ft.? It is not.
We should adopt a philosophy of equity instead of focusing on our fears and asserting property rights that are more akin to a caste system.  By doing so, we can address the big city problems that affect our daily quality of life together.  Instead of dividing our community by property lot size, let’s come together and find solutions that are equitable for everyone.

–Adrian Skinner

Letter Dept. – Who Are the Real Stakeholders?

In his September article in the Pecan Press (“The Accessory Dwelling Unit Survey: Methods, Results and Aftermath”), Larry Gilg cites the Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan Contact Team (HPNPCT) directive to “work on behalf of all stakeholders in the neighborhood planning area” as the justification for promoting smaller lot sizes for accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Let’s look at the efforts of the HPNPCT to try to determine stakeholder interests and the results of those efforts.

In regard to the survey, while the HPNPCT survey was certainly a well-meaning attempt to determine stakeholder feelings, it did not include appropriate controls to ensure the response of a representative sample of stakeholders, response by stakeholders only, and only one response by each stakeholder. Consequently, it did not advance the cause of quantifying stakeholder opinion. The critique of the survey by the meeting attendees was not out of line, especially considering that meeting attendance included people trained in survey construction and analysis and at least one statistician.

Two HPNPCT meetings have been devoted to ADUs. The July 28 meeting described in the article was a regularly scheduled meeting; according to the HPNPCT bylaws, “Meetings shall be held quarterly during the months of January, April, July and October, on the 4th Monday from 7 to 8:30pm.” Its date and agenda, which consisted almost entirely of the ADU issue, were publicized through the appropriate channels: the neighborhood group list and the HPNPCT group list.

Despite that, few supporters of reducing the lot size for ADUs attended the meeting. I heard only one person speak in favor of such. On the other hand, numerous stakeholders opposing such a change attended and spoke. When someone at the meeting proposed a vote, another attendee objected, stating that all the constituents were not in attendance. That raises the question, why weren’t they, considering that this was a regularly scheduled meeting with an advertised agenda?

Larry complained about the attendees of the meeting: “… the survey and its results were not discussed…. It was implied that it was simply an amateurish attempt to sway decision-makers at the city level. That ended the discussion on discerning the interests of stakeholders.… I daresay the makeup of attendees at the meeting was even less representative of the stakeholder demographic than the survey, but that didn’t stop the members from attempting to vote down any further consideration of allowing ADUs on smaller lots in Hyde Park in spite of the published agenda that stated no votes would be taken.” His conclusion? “The contact team mandate to work on behalf of all stakeholders is not a realistic expectation for any deliberative group in Hyde Park today.”

To the contrary, the original meeting notice and agenda contained nothing about a vote one way or the other, and the HPNPCT bylaws do not preclude a motion from the floor resulting in a vote. Moreover, no data were presented that the meeting attendance was not representative of the stakeholder demographic. Why then does Larry believe Hyde Park is full of supporters if they don’t show up? For him, the problem was the stakeholders who attended the meeting, not the stakeholders who couldn’t be bothered to attend!

All of this leads me to the question of just who are the stakeholders for this issue. Those who can’t be bothered to participate in the process must not believe they have much at stake. Hyde Park supporters of reduced ADU lot size either don’t exist or don’t care much. Democracy is a participatory process; and to quote from John Kerr’s final Pecan Press article, democracy works far better at the local level than at the state or federal level. Hyde Park is a forum in which individual opinion can count. It is an abuse of authority to use the interests of those who don’t care enough to participate to override the interests of those who do, as happened at the HPNPCT meeting when the chair refused a motion from the floor. Even more, it is grossly inappropriate to disparage the stakeholders who responded, who seem to be in the majority, and who are willing to assert their position.

–Lorre Weidlich

 

Larry Gilg responds:  

The reason I believe there is support among Hyde Park stakeholders for allowing ADUs to be constructed on lots between 5,750 and 7,000 sq. ft. is that I personally contacted all owners of such lots that I could identify. I wanted to make sure that there was good support among that group of neighbors before I even brought it up with the contact team.  I presented the results at the April Contact Team (CT) meeting.  Of the 292 properties south of 45th St. that have a size larger than 5,750 sq. ft. but smaller than 7,000 sq. ft., 140 were canvassed.  53 owners were spoken to, of whom 30 supported ADUs on lots smaller than 7,000 square feet, 17 needed more information, and 5 opposed.  Postcards were also mailed to 100 non-resident owners, 15 of whom responded, with 14 supporting a change in ADU regulations, 1 opposing. All of the owners received flyers with information about the proposal and the upcoming meetings. I judged that there was enough support to go forward.

The agenda of the July CT meeting in the Pecan Press and elsewhere did in fact say nothing about not voting on ADUs, as is correctly stated in the letter.  However, at the June HPNA meeting, there were a number of attendees who strongly urged that there be no vote on ADUs at the July CT meeting because “things were moving too fast.”  This was agreed to by Pete Gilcrease, CT chair.

In regard to the reference of one person who spoke out in support of ADUs at the July CT meeting, what occurred to me at the time was the courage she exhibited in asserting that support in the midst of the withering opposition being voiced by others.  It is not implausible to suggest that others may have shared that belief but not felt comfortable saying so.  It’s my hope that residents will continue to speak out for their beliefs, regardless of the stands taken by members of HPNA and CT, whose combined membership is something like only 6% of the adult residents of Hyde Park. Is having a subset of this already small number of residents come to a meeting to “assert their position” really the best we can do to discern the voice of the neighborhood?

Erin McGann at the HPNA District 9 Candidate Forum

Editor’s Note: In May, HPNA hosted a discussion between District 9 candidates Kathie Tovo and Chris Riley. At the time, organizers were not aware of the candidacy of Erin McGann. She was thus invited at the September HPNA meeting to answer the same questions originally crafted by the HPNA Steering Committee, plus questions from the audience. Her answers are excerpted below, as transcribed by Lorre Weidlich. (Chris Riley addressed the audience beforehand, and Kathie Tovo joined McGann in the forum, but their remarks and responses are not included here. For excerpts of their original responses to the questions, see the June issue of the Pecan Press.)

 

 Please share your thoughts regarding the role of the city manager in the new 10-1 form of city governance.  Does a strong city manager enhance or limit single district council members in providing constituent services?  How could the relationship between city manager and council members be improved?

Erin McGann (EM): I’m concerned about the relationship between the current city

council and the city manager in that it does not seem as if a lot of information is shared with the council. They shouldn’t be surprised by anything that’s going on with the city. The structure of the communication now is poor and I don’t know which way this is not working, if it’s coming from the city manager over this way or if it’s coming from the council to the city manager, but it does not seem as if the staff is sharing enough information with council so that they can make good decisions based on what they need to know. It seems to me that they have to go outside the government in order to find out a lot of things, which they should be doing in some cases, but in a lot of cases this information needs to be shared inside. I will work to insist that the city government work with the city council and not look at the council as just temporary people who are going to go away at some point. With that kind of leadership, you will see more functioning happening with the city in a more cohesive way.

 

A recent neighborhood poll revealed that two issues that concern Hyde Park residents the most are neighborhood preservation and development. Other central Austin neighborhoods have also indicated that these issues are a concern in District 9. Older, affordable single-family homes continue to be lost as developers replace them with poorly formed new houses, super duplexes, and other structures that are out of character in our neighborhoods.  What have you done during your career to preserve the character of central Austin neighborhoods?  What do you plan to do if elected as the District 9 representative?

 

EM: I live in the south end of the Bouldin neighborhood where I’ve seen this very clearly. When I moved into my neighborhood 12 years ago, which is when I moved to Austin, all of the houses in my neighborhood were little bungalows, including the one I live in. I don’t want to say a majority, but a good many of them have been torn down and been turned into David Weekley homes, some of them have been turned into giant duplexes, others of them are super modern homes. I was very concerned about this. The people who lived in my neighborhood have basically turned over in the time that I’ve lived there.

I was talking to some people over at the Owana neighborhood meeting last week. They told me that they had put a historical district in their neighborhood and that’s why there weren’t all of these big changes in the types of housing going in. But they also told me that the city makes it very difficult to get historic neighborhood designation. I was talking to another neighborhood that said they wanted it and I think that’s something that should be considered. It shouldn’t be that difficult to make a neighborhood a historic neighborhood. When we’re looking at our neighborhoods, I really would like to see the changes in the neighborhood being the changes that you all want to see. I don’t like the way the house that was built across the street from me looks. It doesn’t look like it’s within the (McMansion) guidelines but it really is. And I think that’s part of the problem.

 

Candidate McGann articulates her views for attendees at the September 8 HPNA meeting. Photo: Adam Wilson

Candidate McGann articulates her views for attendees at the September 8 HPNA meeting. Photo: Adam Wilson

The cost of living, and housing in particular, continues to rise in Austin.  It seems that our secret is out—Austin is a great place to live—yet affordability continues to be a challenge in the face of rising demand for centrally located housing.  Please share your views on housing affordability and what you would do as the district representative to address the imbalance between supply and demand, create affordable housing opportunities for low income households, and help prevent current residents from being taxed out of their homes.  What is your approach to balance affordability with preservation of neighborhood character?

 

EM: Austin is not affordable anymore. I couldn’t afford the house that I live in today. And I hate that; I wish more families with children could afford to move into my neighborhood. When I first moved in, there were lots of people with families and now there are not. I would like to see council stop approving giant buildings that are single small dwellings, 500 square foot apartments, micro units, that sort of thing. Those are the kinds of things that are driving people with children out of the city. If you can’t find a place to live with your three children, you’re not going to stay here.

We have two opportunities coming up very soon. One is the 45th Street and Bull Creek property, and it looks like the legislature is likely to close down the Austin State School, so there will be that property available as well. That’s at 35th and MoPac. In both of those properties, the council will have the opportunity to approve development that can benefit everyone in the city. There is quite a large leeway that council has in approving these kinds of developments and what I would like to see in both of those places is completely mixed development—with affordable housing, with apartments, with townhomes, with duplexes, with standalone homes, and with all of the homes being a variety of different prices so that a lot of different kinds of people can move in there. Basically it’s creating a community. And also include in there disabled housing and protected elderly housing, both of which we have a severe lack of in town. We also have to, if we’re going to be building these kinds of things in those areas, shore up the infrastructure there because right now neither of those areas are capable of taking on any kind of infrastructure for any kind of building there.

We also need to bring in the (City of Austin) homestead exemption for homeowners because we can’t keep paying for everything. And we need to just look at the budget and take out a lot of the extra stuff.

And the 2014-15 HPNA Nominees Are…

The Hyde Park Nominating Committee is honored to submit its slate of candidates for the upcoming elections for the HPNA Steering Committee:

Co-Presidents: Lorre Weidlich and Kevin Heyburn

Co-Vice Presidents: Kathy Lawrence and Adrian Skinner

Co-Secretaries: Artie Gold and Reid Long

Treasurer: I.J. Aarons

At-Large Steering Committee: Heidi Bojes, Jessica Charbeneau, and Sharon Brown

These candidates include mostly incumbent members and officers who are hoping to sustain their roles in HPNA leadership. It includes three people who will be new to their positions in the neighborhood association:

Adrian Skinner, Co-Vice President Nominee

Adrian and his wife Sarah moved to Hyde Park in 2011. They selected the area because of the excellent location, charming older homes, and walkability; they were also pleasantly surprised by the engaging community.  Over the last three years, Adrian has restored their 1939 cottage on Duval room by room.  He enjoys commuting by bicycle to his office at the Texas Attorney General and has a special interest in the traffic congestion that Austin faces.  Aside from traffic, Adrian believes Hyde Park has a unique challenge balancing the preservation of neighborhood character while adapting to the changing needs of the population.  He believes in civic activism and has petitioned City Council on a number of issues affecting Hyde Park.

Reid Long, Co-Secretary Nominee

Reid Long has lived in the northern part of Hyde Park on Caswell for just over 6 years. He is interested in being involved in HPNA to help the neighborhood grow, develop, and remain a vibrant place to live. He is a scientific advisor for an intellectual property law firm. He has a whole stack of degrees from UT Austin, culminating in a PhD in chemistry.

Sharon Brown, At-Large Steering Committee Member Nominee

Sharon was born in San Antonio, graduated from UT, and returned to school for her master’s in the mid-80s from the LBJ School of Public Affairs. She and her husband Don moved into their home on Avenue F in 1982 and have lived there ever since. She has worked in various roles in the public sector, including serving as a policy analyst for a welfare agency. Sharon is very active in politics. She is the VP for Central Austin Democrats, and will soon be its precinct chair. She says she volunteers on campaigns to support good people and for her own mental health. Sharon’s hopes are for the Hyde Park community to participate actively in all the decisions that affect us, for our children to have excellent public schools, and for everyone to have a level playing field in life. She said she is “looking forward to working with the talented neighbors who give time and energy in so many ways to Hyde Park.”

The HPNA Nominating Committee is made up of Kathy Lawrence, John Williams, and Adam Wilson. The committee is deeply grateful to all the returning and new Steering Committee members who are committed to transparent governance and making Hyde Park a welcoming, inclusive, and respectful community.   Voting for the new Steering Committee members will occur at the general meeting on Monday, October 6.

–Adam Wilson

Nominating Committee Chair

HPNA Meeting Minutes – September 8, 2014

The September Hyde Park Neighborhood Association meeting was organized around our annual potluck dinner.  Neighbors from around the avenues cooked their specialties and shared a meal with each other.  Despite our differences at times, we were reminded that we are one community.

The meeting began with a rolling start around the potluck line as everyone mingled.  Lorre Weidlich began by presenting the official business agenda around 7:30 p.m. and announcements were the first order of business.

John Williams provided an update from the Nominating Committee regarding HPNA Steering Committee officers and members for the coming year.

Carol Welder reminded neighbors that October 7, from 7 – 9 p.m., is National Night Out in Austin—an annual event that allows neighborhoods and law enforcement to partner against crime.  The Austin Police Department provides information about the event.  During the event, neighbors are asked to turn on their porch lights, lock their doors and spend the evening outside with their neighbors, police officers, firefighters and EMS paramedics.

Pete Gilcrease spoke about the October Hyde Park Contact Team meeting to be held at the Trinity Church at Speedway and 40th on Monday, October 27 at 7 p.m.  The planned focus for its next meeting is neighborhood sidewalks.

The remainder of the meeting focused on our local District 9 candidates who are running for election to the 10-1 City Council this November.  Erin McGann, Kathie Tovo, and Chris Riley were present during the meeting.  Neighbors had an opportunity to hear Erin McGann’s thoughts and positions on issues important to Hyde Park.  Neighbors also had an extended opportunity to pose questions directly to candidates.  One consistent concern expressed during the open Q&A session was our missing and eroding sidewalk grid.

Following the meeting, neighbors had an opportunity to mingle and speak with City Council candidates, Austin mayoral candidate Steve Adler, and AISD trustee at large, Kendall Pace.

This year’s annual potluck was so popular that the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association will consider making this special event semi-annual.

–Submitted by Artie Gold & Adrian Skinner

HPNA Co-Secretaries

From the Desk of the Co-Presidents – October 2014

September Meeting

Congratulations to Kathy Lawrence, co-vice president, for organizing another good meeting. It was wonderful seeing all the people who attended our Autumn pot luck and stayed for our second candidates’ forum.  We strongly support events like these, in which Hyde Parkers can gather to socialize and connect. We also appreciate the opportunity to hear from our third District 9 candidate, Erin McGann, and hear again from our other two candidates, Kathie Tovo and Chris Riley.

ADUs

The Contact Team has put its proposal for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on hold pending the result of the city resolution. This simplifies the situation somewhat because it means that Hyde Parkers need only consider one proposal, the resolution passed by the City of Austin in a 4-3 vote.  The resolution was supported by Council Members Chris Riley, Mike Martinez, Bill Spellman, and Mayor Lee Leffingwell and opposed by Council Members Kathie Tovo, Sheryl Cole, and Laura Morrison. As many of you know, Councilmembers Riley and Tovo are two of the candidates seeking election to the newly created city council district that includes Hyde Park.  And Councilmembers Cole and Martinez are two of the candidates running for mayor.

By the time you read this, the meeting for public input will already have taken place. An ordinance that modifies current City Code may not yet be in front of City Council, but presumably it will be part of the agenda for the post-election City Council. It’s not yet clear whether or how that ordinance will affect Hyde Park, because it depends on the exact draft of the legislation, but it’s possible that it will have a major impact on our neighborhood. Hyde Parkers need to be aware of the possibility and be prepared to express their feelings on the subject to City Council.

Shipe Pool

From the brink of loss to a $3.1 million budget – now that’s progress! Our pool will be rebuilt, thanks to the efforts of all the people who worked to save it: Mark Fishman, Alison Young, Jack and Jill Nokes, and the Friends of Shipe Park. We owe these people our profound thanks. They illustrate what committed stakeholders can accomplish for the community with their work and energy

Fire Station Festival

We anticipate another wonderful event, thanks to the efforts of Deaton Bednar and her team, and we look forward to seeing all of you there!

–Kevin Heyburn and Lorre Weidlich

HPNA Co-Presidents

« Older posts Newer posts »