The Clawback LIVE! Episode 16 covering Land Code-a-palooza part deux (and a quick traffic update!)
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Hello Austin, hello clawbackers Happy Valentine's Day. we are in episode six of the clawback Live. so glad to have everybody watching a little early this morning. I've got my coffee with me. I don't know if you can see this in the screen. this is from the Austin Fire Department there pass the torch. this is the.... This is a good logo to pass the torch Academy. some great work that they do at the fire Department sharing my morning coffee with them today. I hope everybody has a lovely Valentine's Day Valentine's Day on Friday. I mean that's a real thing. I will be working most of the day like most people, but we all have the whole weekend to celebrate with our loved ones or wallow in our misery, I guess is another option for Valentine's Day.
Land Development Code
let's dig in right to the main stuff. this was Land Development Code week not the first not the last but a big milestone as we think about the future of growth and development and buildings and neighborhoods and all the things in Austin. The the I wanna just kind of give a high level over view of what's going on so this week last night about 8:30. We took the second reading vote which is the second of three votes you have to take in order to adopt any ordinance actually but especially one that is this important or this complicated. So we took that second reading vote last night. you know there's there's been some question about what how much time we're spending Working on this and is it sufficient, You know the the the work that we've done so far started in October. Well, I mean it started way before October. It actually started about eight years ago even before 10-1 Council existed when they initiated after imagine Austin initiated the code rewrite process and through several many fits and starts we have finally reached this point. In those intervening years. There have been numerous meetings and engagements. We did over 20 meetings in district six alone. there were notices Sent to every property owner in 2018, there was an election held in November 2018 about whether or not a code should have to be adopted by the voters or whether or not the Council adopts a code. and of course that election confirmed the practice that that city councils adopt ordinances. That's how government works but even just since October, you know the the current draft that we're in this kind of second draft the first draft came in October, about 1300 pages and a map and we. Did many amendments at first reading as we all incorporated this 1300 page document. But since then we have narrowed it down. So we went from 1300 pages to review in October to about a 120 pages of staff amendments not all of those 120 pages are things that were changed. Some of them were things that they didn't change as they responded to the things that the Council members myself included amended in October and now. At second reading, we were down to about 19 pages, so we very methodically and and a carefully narrow down the scope of changes and questions that is the point of three readings. You've got the whole magilla first reading you narrow that down, you know you cut it down down to 10 percent of questions right 1300 to about a 120 pages. and then you know that down to another 10 percent a 120 to about 19 pages. So by the time we get to third reading my hope is that we are down to Just the last key questions that we need to resolve before we adopt the code. Third reading tentatively scheduled for the end of March. So that's about 4, 5. 6 weeks plenty of time to get through these last remaining questions and issues on the land development code and of course, that's not where it stops. You know. Land Development code is not adopted March and then suddenly magically things start changing in the city. there's process related to implementation. You gotta train the staff you gotta set up the technology you gotta roll out the criteria manuals you know. Code is not the only thing that is created. there's the manuals that engineers use about how many inches does the curb have to be and how far away does the gutter have to be in all those things that that the engineers handle once we adopt the more high level policy, the criteria manuals will come we are talking about a map refinement process where once we adopt the main map we can go kind of in a small area planning process is one idea or it might be recommendations from certain neighborhood. It might be documents submitted in public meetings. We're still working through that process and then in the map refining process would be more like a zoning change where there will be additional notice and engagement and valid petitions and all those things that don't apply when you're adopting the entire city all at once and you know in those last few months since October, I have been talking about the land development code on this show My Live Show, which is still funny to think about having a live show, but I have a live show almost every episode. Since we started doing this, I think it was in October if I remember correctly, I think it was related to land development code and wanted to keep folks updated on it so you can go back. all of the archives are on my Facebook page. We're gonna work to get those archives put up on www.jimmyflannigan.com You can see a few episode 13, 14 and 15 up on the website but we went into a lot of detail. We put up photos of the maps and show the zones and and showed you all the resources you you. I'm gonna point to this. Right right there there, it is you can see all of the information on the city's website. austintexas.gov/ldc and that website has all the information that we did at second reading. It has all the information from first reading It has maps maps are great. They're like Google Maps. you can scroll around you can click on things you can see all the level of detail in one of the things that I found really compelling as we've been going through this process was when the the consultants that we've engaged this time around who have worked across the country doing land development codes in other cities have unequivocally said that Austin has done the most research has looked at the most data has done the most analysis of any city that they have ever seen writing a land development code and isn't that just how we are in Austin. We wanna make sure we get stuff right. We do, however, also have this history of not doing stuff because we're not sure that it's perfect you know over the years there have been many phrases to to describe that you know "If We Don't build it, They won't come". I mean I think we know that that doesn't work. Obviously our our challenging infrastructure is is evidence of that. there have been plenty of failed bond elections and failed initiatives all wrapped up in this notion that unless we can accurately and specifically predict every little thing that's gonna happen in the future. Well we better stick with what we have the problem. The problem with that is what we have are still some problems. We've got affordability issues traffic issues. We have climate change issues related to growth and development. These are things that are exacerbated by the status quo and you cannot solve a problem caused by the status quo by maintaining the status quo. we have to change. We have to accommodate the reality that our city is facing of course. District six knows this more than anyone else. Most of district six was built before the city annexed it. So there's a lot of emotions around annexation, which I'm not gonna go into. but folks were moving and building farther and farther and farther into the Greenfield areas into the undeveloped areas because the city of Austin wasn't allowing more housing to be built. Closer into where the jobs were where the restaurants were where the grocery stores we're and so things started to spread out, they started to sprawl and that has been doubled and tripled and quadrupled down by prior councils by councils under the old at large system who who represented primarily one part of town but didn't really understand what we were facing out in the surrounding areas in the suburbs, It is time to move past that I think that was the point of 10-1 and now every part of the city has representation everybody has a seat at the table. this is a a not an easy process, but it is an important one and we're we're dealing with a lot of different issues and I wanna kinda end with at least on the code for this week. this concept of trust and folks keep bringing up this notion that there has been a trust broken difficult decisions are difficult. We all want to have a trust relationship. I wanna have that with all of my colleagues. I wanna have it with the community and I think the community wants to have that with the Council and with its leaders and not just at the city, I wish we had a trust relationship with the governor and I wish we had a trust relationship with you know with the President and you know not those aren't things that we have right now. The better question is how do we get there? State and federal politics aside when we're talking about the city of Austin, we are all each other's neighbors. I run into many of you at HEB. I run into you at the coffee shops and we talk and and if you see me in at a Starbucks or at Cuppa Austin or you see me at HEB don't hesitate to come up and talk to me. I did see I don't know if you're watching, but I did see one couple. I was an HEB and then they walk past and I heard him say. Oh, I think that's the Council member guy you. I'm like. A regular dude, I'm not just like a politician go far away. You come talk to me, but the point is we are neighbors. We're all trying to do the same thing. We're all trying to address affordability. We want to address traffic. We wanna be serious about climate change. That's what we are trying to accomplish with this and as guilty as I have been about characterizing folks who disagree with me on these issues or or you know I'm passionate and I'm not afraid to argue and really get into the issues facing district six and the city. I always know and believe that we're all trying to do what we think is the right thing. Where trust is hard to repair is when accusations are made about motives or conspiracy theories or other things which are which are just not true. There are there's a fair debate about how much housing goes where and how that's a fair debate and we're having that debate. But if you're not winning the debate and you start pivoting into well your corrupt or you're in the pocket of so and so or or whatever. That is the action that harms the trust disagreement doesn't harm trust tone and narrative and engagement and relationships harm trust so that that is my hope and I I think we ended great at second reading the first couple of days were a little rough, but I think we ended well. I still believe that there is room for folks to come together as long as we still continue to work together. When I ran for office in 2016, That was my campaign slogan "We Can Fix Austin Together", that's what it means. we're not always gonna agree not always gonna say the right solution is for the right problem, but we're gonna keep doing this work together. That's why I do the live show. That's why I do a monthly town Hall. That's why I do other engagements. That's why I do speaking engagements by do all the things that I do. I want to hear and I want us to work together and I want everyone to understand the hard choices that face this community and I and I believe that we're gonna get there and I still believe Austin is the greatest City in the nation and it is such an honor to represent it and represent district six. so we're headed towards third reading. That's where we'll be in March. we are cleaning up the last bits of this work. Please continue to email my office. I'm trying to email everybody back. I think I've done pretty good on that but don't be afraid to contact us of course all of the others right there All of the information. austintexas.gov/ldc , You can contact my office email@example.com. So I think that's enough on the land code for today.
I wanna do one. Other topic, which I think is our favorite topic to talk about. So what I wanna talk about under the traffic report today is really about Project Connect and we've talked about project connect a couple of times. we had a mobility Committee meeting this week where we brought in Cap Metro to talk about the latest updates for that proposal, which you may recall from prior episodes. the proposal is a train that goes down the spine of the city from Tech Ridge to slaughter a train from downtown to the airport. so you could actually take a train to the airport, which is a cool thing. there are proposals and ideas about doing part of that underground certainly downtown, where the the grid is really tight, You wouldn't be able to run enough buses and etcetera Cap Metro has been doing a National peer review of all the assumptions. How much is gonna cost what is the ridership? What is the governance and we had the presentation from this peer review panel this week, and I gotta say all credit to Cap Metro for doing this. The right way. The peer review came back and said they have no issues with any of the data. All of the assumptions made are accurate, and in fact not only are they accurate, They are overestimating the risk. One of the key details. The question that I asked the mobility was this relationship between the city of Austin and Cap Metro, where we're really building a tighter relationship. How does that compare to other jurisdictions and how does that impact the ability to do this right? and they said that it is almost singular in its relationship across transit agencies elsewhere in the country, but more importantly, the elements that caused these projects to go astray. Either a cost or timeline, they tend to do that when certain elements are not part of the team. If you have to do a lot of land purchase, let's say for right of way or if you have to deal with a private utility company to move a water pipe or to move a power line. But in Austin, the city for the most part controls the roads, but also the water pipes and also the drainage pipes and also the electric lines. We're all on the same page so when they said in the report that about 20 percent of the capital cost comes from utility relocation. I looked over at Council Member Kitchen and I thought man this. This is a lot of upside for us and I ask that question, I said at this stage this relationship between the City and Cap Metro. What does that mean? is it doesn't mean that all of these estimates are far more likely to get smaller in terms of cost and they agree. That's what's really exciting. We're not cooking the books. We're not fudging the numbers. In fact, we're being incredibly conservative with how we're doing these estimates and again, credit to Cap Metro for that and as we refine these numbers it's only gonna get better. It's only gonna get stronger for the city so that we can actually get to these long-term transportation solutions that that we know we need and that we're gonna do it for the long haul for a generational change and make an investment in the city that we know we need so I'm excited about that. It was a great great presentation again. Credit to Cap Metro We'll be talking a lot more about that in the future. that's all we're gonna do for today. Thanks again everybody for watching. please share the video you can go back on my website. jimmyflannigan.com and watch the last few of course the whole history is on my Facebook page facebook.com/FlanniganForAustin. when you go on to the website, please make a donation. We are in reelection mode. There's so much work to do and so much work yet to be done and I wanna make sure that we are all working on this. We are all working on this work together and that's what we're gonna do it. Thanks Austin.
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