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Old Posted May 22, 2009, 5:06 AM
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Gallup Gallup is offline
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Post Austin, Texas-the anti density/sustainability ANC movement

Hello everyone, life’s been crazy so I’ve only been able to drop in and read here and there. I’m posting because I’ve received another e-mail from the guy we love to hate, and it is one of many such baseless diatribes that I’ve gotten from him recently, so I thought I would share it with all of you. I find it sad that after all the progress Austin has made recently that this relatively small group of seemingly clueless NIMBYs have somehow managed to take over, or perhaps created, Austin’s largest neighborhood group (ANC) and have such a strong hold in city hall. Austin is a growing city. This is a fact. If we don’t plan for density then we will continue to sprawl out like our larger in-state metros and we will lose all that makes Austin so great. We will be gaining thousands more single-family stock, placeless neighborhoods with far too little density to support mass-transit and therefore supported entirely by auto. This ostensibly anti-density group seems to be completely out-of-touch with this reality and appears to feel that by hindering New Urbanism, by thwarting increased FAR, and by limiting heights and impervious cover, that a utopia will magically spring from the Earth maybe in the form of a fun little, edible mushroom.

I know many of you live in neighborhoods that are supposedly represented by ANC. What is going on here in your view? From my perspective, all I see is that they are attempting to do everything they can to prevent a successful urban core. I also don’t quite understand the leadership. There is this Jeff Jack guy who I have met on numerous occasions and without fail he has somehow managed to bring up the fact that he is an architect each time. I’ve done some digging and I can’t seem to locate a single project this guy is credited for. All I could find is that he worked for an architecture firm in the 80’s, was fired, and turned around and sued the company. Truth be told, I don’t really find him to be a threat because I understand that nobody really takes him seriously. I do however find ANC’s stance on urbanism to be a threat. The council will listen to those who speak, and if the ANC are the only ones speaking, then…

If you are on here reading, posting, participating, then chances are you know all about how building around the automobile is only going to bring this city down. You know that building a mixed-use building near the urban core is going to enable an occupant to walk to the store, to a restaurant, and even walk to work. Imagine that, this low-carbon emitting individual is doing his/her part. It is possible to live and tread softly, we have got to start speaking up for what we know is right. If you need motivation, drive—yes drive because this green city doesn’t have a train system yet—out to Kyle, or Round Rock. You will be hard pressed to find forests that haven’t been adulterated in some form or another. You’ll see endless parking lots, miles of horizontal strip malls, thousands of roof tops, and of course the ubiquitous automobile. If the ANC is trying to help speed up suburbanization, I must say that they are doing a great job. If they are trying to keep Austin the special place that it is, they are on the wrong path. Who knows, maybe they’re just looking for that magical mushroom. I know I am.

From: "Jeff Jack" <jjack2@austin.rr.com>

Date: May 18, 2009 4:48:29 PM CDT

To: <SouthLamarCorridorPlan@yahoogroups.com>, <scc78704@yahoogroups.com>, <ZNAExCom@yahoogroups.com>, <anctalk@yahoogroups.com>

Subject: [ANCtalk] Is your neighborhood about to become "Downtown"?


Just a reminder that tonight the City of Austin will be having a public meeting to discuss the downtown plan. The consultants who we are paying $1.3 million have come up with draft proposals to deal with affordable housing and density bonuses in "Downtown". But since it is very hard to get any affordable housing downtown with the cost of land ,due to the increased entitlements the city has been giving away (see all those high rise buildings?) and then the cost of construction for those very same high rise condos, so where do they turn to get affordable housing "Downtown"?

What they are now proposing is a "Downtown Impact Area" which includes all of the surrounding neighborhoods and neighborhood planning areas that touch a 2 mile radius from 6th and Congress, This not only includes OWANA, Zilker, Barton Hills and most of near east Austin but extends even out to Barton View! They are essentially hoping to resolve the affordable housing problem in the CBD that current city policy has helped to create, by leap frogging into our surrounding neighborhoods to provide affordable housing to support someone's idea of the appropriate downtown density. What is ironic is the fact that many of our neighborhoods have fought to keep the affordable housing we once had, lost those battles to staff, developers and the City Council and are now being asked to find a way to provide make up affordable housing for downtown when we do not even see how we are going to replace the affordable housing we have lost due to decisions by the very same folks!

So if you live in one of the surrounding neighborhoods within 2 miles of downtown, you may want to attend the meeting tonight to get all the details on what the city staff and consultants have in mind to encourage affordable housing in your neighborhood. The meeting is at 6:00 and runs to 8:30 and will be at the Waller Creek Building , 625 East 10th St. just west of the interstate. The meeting will be in room 104 and parking is available in the buildings parking garage just to the south of the building.




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Old Posted May 22, 2009, 8:09 PM
Scottolini Scottolini is offline
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Never met Jeff Jack, but having seen him speak at City Council many times, I must say the guy rubs me the wrong way. I really don't think he and his friends care about their tax bills going up, or if their neighborhoods are affordable. I just wonder what their motivation really is. Thinking they can protect the status quo?
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Old Posted May 22, 2009, 8:45 PM
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M1EK M1EK is offline
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Yes; it's entirely about status-quo preservation; and as many people as possible need to hear this kind of stuff. Please spread far and wide.
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Old Posted May 22, 2009, 9:09 PM
Scottolini Scottolini is offline
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I know it's cutting off the nose to spite the face, but a part of me wishes these people's neighborhoods would go to sh*t. Let them see the alternative...Of course that would mean the city as a whole would probably turn into an utter sh*thole, so I must remind myself that it would be a bad thing.
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Old Posted May 23, 2009, 4:42 AM
breathesgelatin breathesgelatin is offline
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My take on it is that most people who would go against Jeff Jack don't fully realize what's going on in the city and just aren't involved in their neighborhood associations. A lot of people don't have time for NAs. I went to my NA elections last week and there was hardly anyone there. 5 of the officer positions had no nominees. There was barely a quorum - they needed 20 and there was exactly that.

Basically the people who are active (particularly in my hood) seem to be those who are activated by NIMBY type issues. For example in my hood the RG4N thing was huge and most of the officers seem to have been heavily involved in that movement.

I think that unless you're extremely well educated on the ANC movement, it's hard to distinguish some of the finer points. For example, people (like me) who are not that crazy about Wal-Mart as a corporation were just thinking that the RG4N people were fighting the good fight and didn't really research the issue or think about it in a deeper way, about how we're going to shape the urban fabric. I don't know. I don't want to believe everyone in my neighborhood ardently opposes urbanism, but maybe they do. On a listserv I'm on that is composed of mothers in the Austin area and has 1600+ members, people are always hating on developers and condos. I don't honestly understand what the issue is, other than a knee jerk reaction to development, so maybe that really is what's driving people.

My solution is that I've decided to get involved in the NA, but I have a sense that I'm going to be by far in the minority there.
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Old Posted May 25, 2009, 4:54 AM
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427MM 427MM is offline
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Wow, what a topic. Well, we all know that for better or worse, ANC now has serious representation on council. My hope is that more and more people start truly striving for greener lifestyles, and that folks realize that it’s not what we’re driving that is so bad for the environment, but rather how we are living. Professor Sinclair Black once asked us in his Urban Design Theory course the following question, “Who is doing more harm to the environment, a guy who owns a Prius, or a guy who owns a Hummer?” Some students immediately responded “Prius” while others asked questions. Professor Black let us know that we simply didn’t have enough information to answer the question. He said, “Consider this, the man who owns the Prius lives 25 miles from his job in a 2,200 square foot, single-family home and is more than four miles from the closest grocery store. He puts around 35 gallons of gas in his car each month and averages a $375 electric bill. Meanwhile, the guy in the Hummer lives 1,000 feet from his job. He walks to work on most days and puts 12 gallons of gas in per month and has a $45 electric bill in his 1,000 sf condominium.”

As lifestyles and habits become more about what’s good for the majority rather than what is convenient and the norm I hope that our leaders are wise enough to stand up for what is right. I think they will be.
Get involved in CodeNEXT! Participate in your neighborhood meetings. Resist the politics of exclusion.
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