December * 2017 W.A.N.G. Newsletter
PO Box 5722, Austin, TX 78763-5722 * HAPPY NEW YEAR ! *
Next WANG Meeting....
Tuesday, Jan. 2nd, 6:30-8:30pm
2500 Exposition Boulevard
at the Howson Branch Library
RSVP to receive an agenda as it becomes available....
Previous NEWSLETTER LINK:
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Past President's Message - 2017 in Review
December 2017 Past President’s Message
By August W. Harris III
The Board of the West Austin Neighborhood Group wishes each of you the happiest of Holiday Seasons and health, peace and prosperity for 2018. A quick drive or better yet stroll, walk or jog through the neighborhood at night reveals a community filled with the joy of the season. I am reminded of a quote I saw several years ago and thought it appropriate to reiterate: "how we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives." Together, let’s continue to spend our days continuing to make West Austin the wonderful neighborhood and indeed the wonderful community it is.
....Year in Review
Your volunteer Board of Directors has been engaged in a multitude of issues that face our neighborhood and our community. In many regards, 2017 has been relatively quiet, particularly on the development front but it has been a busy year nonetheless.
- Quiet it has not been with the delay of the completion of the MoPac sound walls – now slated for completion by June of 2018. Promises, promises right – but in all honesty, now that the managed lanes are open, crews are working quickly to finish all of the interchange improvements and work on the walls has restarted. East-west connectivity should improve for all modes of transportation shortly.
- Development along Enfield Road has been the most contentious and problematic land use issue we have faced in no small part due to deed restrictions particular to that area. Ironically, West Austin has been criticized for the lack of affordable units and the demolitions along Enfield further reduced that number in exchange for much higher priced ones. What little “affordable” housing we had in the neighborhood is falling prey to the bulldozer.
- The Austin State Assisted Living Center made it through another legislative session and lives to serve another day. However, it is part of an ongoing realignment discussion with the repurposing of the Austin State Hospital campus so stay tuned.
- Muny was recognized with a National Register of Historic Places marker and also was recognized by the Texas Golf Hall of Fame as an historic Texas golf course. With the City of Austin’s lease with UT ending in May of 2019, a mere 18 months from now, a dialogue is beginning to address both the future of Muny and the rest of the Brackenridge Tract. Finding a soft landing that accommodates all stakeholders has been made far more complicated by our new 10-1 Council system so there is much work to do.
- To fog or not to fog, that is the question. We have received a number of complaints over the last year about the use of mosquito fogging services. The aroma tends to travel and the chemicals used do more than attack mosquitos, both of which upset folks for different reasons. However, if a service has the required permits and licenses and is abiding by the rules, then there is little that can be done. We encourage neighbors to communicate their concerns with one another to find solutions and to discuss application with the fogging companies to minimize subsequent impact.
- Our beloved neighborhood parks only became an issue when the draft Aquatics Masterplan was revealed that, in turn, suggested a threat to the continued operation of both Reed Pool and the newly rebuilt West Enfield Pool. The aquatics task force has just presented Council a request for $124 million in bonds to repair or replace existing pools and build several new ones to meet our city’s growth. While no more hearings are scheduled at the moment, please feel free to email email@example.com and for current information on the plan, please visit the Aquatic Master Plan Task Force website at: https://www.austintexas.gov/page/aquatic-master-plan-task-force
I was going to say “lastly, our neighborhood parks” but then came….
The one issue that consistently has been the focus of most our meetings and outreach this year has been CodeNext. CodeNext is a farce that has been poorly executed by the City’s planning staff and to this point, both the process and the product have been nothing short of awful. Besides a lack of transparency, mismanagement and cost overruns, now the City is facing the prospects of a referendum on CodeNext and the spectre of an audit.
The current version of CodeNext ignores the fact that we are part of neighborhood plan that was a multi-year collaboration of the West Austin community. Our neighborhood plan was adopted by City Council in 2010 and was incorporated into Imagine Austin along with all other Council-adopted neighborhood plans. CodeNext was intended as a tool to implement Imaging Austin but it has been hijacked and misdirected to accommodate other agendas. However, thanks to the tireless efforts of organizations like ours, Councilmember Alter, and other members of the City Council, we have been given at least until the end of February to review and consider the impacts and unintended consequences of the latest version.
There is no doubt that the City’s land development code needs to be cleaned up, the permitting process needs to be modernized and staff needs to be better trained, systems need to be more efficient and staff in the field need to be uniform in their application of the code – these should have been the highest priorities. That is where this process should have been focused and that is what the West Austin Neighborhood Group has been stressing. Don’t believe the nonsense that CodeNext improves affordability, the environment or impacts sprawl. In fact, it does absolutely nothing for any of these three essential community concerns.
It is critical that you either get or remain engaged on CodeNext. The future of our neighborhood and the Austin community relies on it. 2018 promises more intense discussions and engagement on CodeNext as well as the ramping up of meetings on the future of the Brackenridge Tract. We need you, your voice and your passion!
If you haven’t, please don’t forget to renew your membership! You may renew online at www.WestAustinNG.com or pay by check. If you do have questions about your membership, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that our meeting date and time has changed due to scheduling issues at the Howson Branch Library. Our new meeting day and time is going to be the first Tuesday of the month from 6:30 to 8 PM.
Have a wonderful and safe Holiday Season! We’ll see you in 2018! Cheers!
WANG Board of Directors & Committee Members
Organized 1973......"To preserve our neighborhood and protect it from deterioration"
Board of Directors
- President: Cathy Kyle President@westaustinng.com
- Secretary: Gunnar Sequist Secretary@westaustinng.com
- Assistant Secretary: Blake Tollett AsstSecretary@westaustinng.com
- Treasurer: George Edwards Treasurer@westaustinng.com
- Past President: August "Happy" Harris III PastPresident@westaustinng.com
- Elizabeth Adams ........................................... Elizabeth@westaustinng.com
- Mary Arnold ................................................. Mary@westaustinng.com
- Joyce Basciano ............................................... Joyce@westaustinng.com
- Joseph M Bennett .......................................... Joe@westaustinng.com
- Michael Cannatti ............................................ Mike@westaustinng.com
- George Edwards ............................................. George@westaustinng.com
- Haidar Khazen ................................................. Haidar@westaustinng.com
- Craig Lill ........................................................... Craig@westaustinng.com
- Holly Reed ....................................................... Holly@westaustinng.com
Honorary Committee Members
- Honorary Mayor Steve Adler
- Honorary Alison Alter
- Honorary Kathie Tovo
Monthly Meeting(s) Summary
November 2017 Minutes Summary
- Neighbor Communications: Discussion of CodeNEXT and its impact on the neighborhood in regards to increased flooding due to increased allowable impervious cover .
- Land Matters: There were no variance or zoning requests. The Board discussed CodeNext and writing a letter to the City indicating appropriate rules and zoning in our area to keep aligned with our neighborhood plan and Imagine Austin.
- Transportation: Residents were concerned about the lack of a merge lane at the entrance ramp from Enfield onto northbound Mopac.
- Membership: WANG added 6 new patron level members.
- ANC: Discussions about encouraging neighbors to sign the petition to put CodeNext in front of voters and encouraging them to write to the City Council, the Mayor, and the planning and zoning boards and commissions.
- WANG Account: $13,316.51
- 4th of July Account: $ 525.36
- Oak Wilt Account: $ 1,206.58
- (Memberships, T-Shirt sales & ACL donations received $4,530.00)
- The Annual Meeting was a success and had a very good turn out with many new members signing up. Neighbors asked what could be done to voice their dire concerns about CodeNext. District 10 Council Member Alison Alter and Planning Commissioner Karen McGraw spoke to neighbors and answered questions about CodeNext.
- · Next meeting will be held at Howson 6:30 Dec 5, 2017
December 2017 Minutes Summary
- Neighbor Communications: Discussion of commercial mosquito spraying and the ill effects it appears to be causing to insects, animals, and people. The Board advised the concerned residents to gather more information and to speak with their neighbors about their concerns.
- Land Matters: The Board voted to not oppose a variance at 2515 Winsted to allow completion of an amended plat of adjoining lots.
NEIGHBORHOOD REAL ESTATE STATISTICS
Move CODENEXT from the "BACK ROOM" to the "BALLOT BOX"
City of Austin Staffers are trying to create a new land development code called CodeNEXT that could have devastating effects on the character of our neighborhood and neighborhoods all over the city.
The proposed CodeNEXT draft ignores requirements of Austin’s current comprehensive plan, ignores our Central West Austin Neighborhood Plan and ignores the input that neighbors have tried to make.
The West Austin Neighborhood Group board is carefully following CodeNEXT and voicing our objections and concerns, but the City needs to hear from you, the neighbors.
Current concerns with CodeNEXT include:
1. INCREASED DENSITY.
CodeNEXT would allow three residential units on a 5,000 sq.ft. lot and six residential units on a 10,000 sq. ft. lot in most of the neighborhood.
2. INCREASED PROPERTY TAXES
The increased development entitlement of CodeNEXT will increase land value and raise taxes in our neighborhoods.
3. MORE DRAINAGE AND FLOODING PROBLEMS
Increased density in our neighborhoods will increase the runoff leading to worsening of drainage problems and city flooding problems downstream.
4. ENDANGERING OUR SCHOOL CHILDREN
CodeNEXT authorizes higher traffic generating commercial uses in the neighborhood and cuts the required off-street parking requirements leading to more traffic, more on-street parking and more congestion around Casis Elementary, O’Henry and the Girls School.
5. INAPPROPRIATE NEIGHBORHOOD BUSINESSES
CodeNEXT currently would allow bail bond offices, hookah lounges, hourly hot tub rental, and tattoo parlors directly across from schools.
The best chance that we have of encouraging the City of Austin to create a CodeNEXT draft that doesn’t harm our neighborhood and city is to require that the draft that they create be approved at the ballot box. It is our right to call for a city election on CodeNEXT. The petition to do that in enclosed.
We need registered voters to sign and return this petition calling for a city election on CodeNEXT! Please encourage all of your family, friends and neighbors who are registered voters to sign the petition. The petition does not have to be notarized but if you circulate the petition outside your household you need to indicate that on the form. Even if you only have one signature on the form, please mail it to the address at the bottom of the petition.
*** PLEASE REVIEW & SIGN THE PETITION ***
Drop off the Petition at the most convenient location:
- 2410 Dormarion Lane (Tarrytown off Windsor, across from The Girls School)
- 613 Hearn St. (Deep Eddy area)
or Mail it in to:
- LET US VOTE AUSTIN SPAC, 309 East 11th, Suite 2, Austin, TX 78701-8704
Petition Turn-In and Social Mixer at Frisco's TONIGHT!
Thursday, Dec. 21st 2017 at 6-8pm
Frisco's Drive-In, 6801 Burnet Rd. Austin
Saving MUNY in 2017......chronology
January 17— UT President Fenves letter to City of Austin - proposing negotiation of a
renewal of the lease for Muny — “on terms closer to current market value” (per a statement by UT System Real Estate in Feb. 2011, UT could make $5.5 million per year by leasing the golf course land for private residential/commercial uses).
February 10— Senator Estes files SB 822 - a bill to transfer Lions Municipal Golf Course to Texas Parks and Wildlife so long as it remains a golf course.
February 15 — Ben Crenshaw unveils plans for a Historic Restoration of Lions Municipal Golf Course - provided the golf course land is NOT developed by UT.
February 28 — Lions Municipal named one of “Most Endangered” historic places by Preservation Texas.
March 21 — Testimony on SB 822 in Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee. Ben Crenshaw and others spoke, including Mayor Adler, in favor of the bill. and Council member Alter and others attended and signed up in favor. UT President Fenves and others testified against - arguing that such a transfer would be a strong deterrent to other prospective donors to UT, as the transfer would be contrary to the wishes of the donor, George W. Brackenridge, who desired the land be used to benefit the University of Texas.
April 11 — SB 822 passed the Senate!
April 15 — Austin American Statesman editorial - “Keep Muny as golf course, site of
civil rights greening”.
May 17 — SB 822 heard in House Committee on Land & Resource Management - and left pending - thus the bill died at the end of the session.
June 24 — Annual Forever Green golf tournament held at Lions Municipal Golf Course,
sponsored by Save Muny.
July 12 — Texas Golf Hall of Fame announces that Lions Municipal Golf Course
is to be inducted and listed on their Texas Registry of Historic Golf Courses.
October 9 - Ben Crenshaw spoke, accepting on behalf of Lions Municipal Golf Course,
making “an impassioned plea to save the public course that helped him become a two- time Masters champion”, at the Induction Dinner in San Antonio for the Texas Golf
Hall of Fame.
Lions Municipal Golf Course continues to host the largest number of rounds annually among the city golf courses. It is popular among Seniors, Juniors, and school golf teams.
The current lease between the City of Austin and the University of Texas for the golf course could end in May 2019, and the UT Board of Regents could pursue new development on the land by leasing the land for private, retail and commercial development, as proposed by the Cooper-Robertson study back in 2010. Yet, there will be one more session of the Texas Legislature come January 2019.
What is desired is that UT and the City, perhaps with help from legislators, work out a mutually beneficial arrangement to have this historic course remain — as a golf course, and especially as a reminder of our past — and the day in late 1950 or early 1951, during “Jim Crow”, when African Americans were not allowed to use the course, as it was reserved for whites only… Yet two young African Americans sneaked on and started to play… and the Mayor at that time, Taylor Glass, with two other of the five Council members, agreed to “just let them play” - and don’t call the newspaper.
The word got around the state to other African American golfers who soon came to play Muny - a municipal course from which they were NOT barred.
This is a story that needs to be told, heard, and appreciated NOW.
Recluse spiders are shy and, as their name suggests, do not like being out in the open. They are about the size of a quarter, with a body that is 1/2 inch long. They can be light brown, dark brown or greyish in color. They have no spines on their legs and usually have a uniform body color. Recluse spiders are known for their characteristic violin or fiddle-shaped marking on the “back” (a.k.a. cephalothorax...the front part of the spider). The real distinguishing feature is an eye pattern of three pairs of eyes arranged in a semicircle on the front of the cephalothorax.
Outside homes, recluse spiders can be found in garages or sheds, firewood piles, or piles of stored materials such as lumber, bricks, or rocks. Inside the home, these spiders are found in bedrooms, closets, bathrooms, under furniture, behind baseboards, in attics, or in cracks and crevices. They are most active at night when hunting for food.
People are typically bitten by accidentally rolling over onto a spider while sleeping or trapping a spider next to skin when putting on clothing where the spider is hiding. Recluse spiders have a cytotoxin that breaks down tissue in the bite area. Several hours after being bitten a blister forms at the bite site that may grow in size as tissue breaks down from injected venom. Infected tissue eventually sloughs off, leaving an open wound that takes a while to heal. More serious symptoms may also occur such as chills, fever, fatigue, joint pain, or nausea. If you experience problems after being bitten by a spider, then seek medical attention immediately.
To avoid spider bites, try some (or all) of the following:
· Use sticky taps to capture spiders
· Remove bed skirts from beds (these make it easy for spiders to crawl into the bed)
· Don’t leave clothes or blankets on the floor; shake out blankets and clothing before using
· When storing items, either use sealed plastic containers/ bags or tape boxes on all seams to keep spiders out
· Wear leather gloves when cleaning in undisturbed closets, attics, garages, or the yard
· Keep stacked, stored items away from the home. Do not store firewood against the house and only bring in firewood to immediately place on a fire.
For more information or help with identification, contact Wizzie Brown, Texas AgriLife
Extension Service Program Specialist at 512.854.9600. Check out my blog at www.urban-ipm.blogspot.com
The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service or the Texas A&M AgriLife Research is implied.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service provides equal access in its programs, activities, education and employment, without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity.