Category Archives: COA Notice

These are notices from the city regarding zoning meetings, events, or general policy announcements

Add the COA Recycling Schedule to your personal calendar!

How many of us have trouble remembering if this is our recycling week or not?  As you know, Austin Resource Recovery provides curbside recycling collection to single-family households and some small scale multi-family customers in Austin…but collection is every other week.  Sure, you can go to the website and look it up, but who really wants to take the time to do that?

The City of Austin has added a new feature to their website to help with the schedule, and it looks like this:

My Schedule

Using the My Schedule tool, you can get a personalized collection calendar for all residential curbside services, including recycling. You can add your schedule to Google, iCal or Outlook, or you can print it. You can also sign up for text, email or phone call reminders and alerts.  Use the My Schedule link or go to https://www.austintexas.gov/department/single-stream-recycling and you’ll see the My Schedule symbol on the page.

BCNA Letter to Austin Parks & Recreation Board

BCNA opposes the proposed design for the Auditorium Shores Parkland Improvement Project because it does not consider the enormous feedback from park users to eliminate a fenced-in dog area.  Additionally, the agreement between the Parks department (PARD), Austin Parks Foundation (APF) and C3 presents (sponsors of the ACL music festival) refers to the parkland at Auditorium Shores as a ‘major event venue’.  This agreement was signed on November 14, 2013 and C3 requires the city to significantly decrease the off-leash area and install a fenced-in dog park, contrary to public input.

Below is the letter I sent out this evening to the Parks and Recreation Board.  They will be meeting at City Hall on Tuesday evening, 6pm and I plan to present BCNA’s opposition to the design.

 

Dear Austin Parks & Recreation Board Members,

 

While Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association (BCNA) wholeheartedly agrees that Auditorium Shores is in desperate need of turf and irrigation renovations, we remain opposed to the proposed design of the Parkland Improvement Project which severely curtails the amount of space available for off-leash dogs, one of the most popular uses of this parkland area and a use that has been protected by City ordinance for several decades.

 

We understand the timely nature of beginning the project while the trailhead is under construction but PARD and TBG need to be more responsive to the public feedback that questions the current “three meadow” design as being too private-event oriented and too unfriendly to public use, especially by dog owners.  It is a public park, after all, and we feel the current design excludes hundreds, if not thousands, of its’ most enthusiastic “public” park users.

 

Additionally, the Park Land Improvement Agreement (“Contract”) between PARD, APF and C3 repeatedly refers to Auditorium Shores as a ‘major event venue’.  Town Lake Metropolitan Park, as per the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Plan and the Town Lake Master Plan, envisions the Auditorium Shores/Parkland area as a versatile public space that is available for a limited number of public/private events.

 

Auditorium Shores is a Major public park and a Minor venue site.  It should not be the other way around.  BCNA believes it is not in the best interest of our residents if this parkland is considered a Major Event venue.  The current annual 25-event-day maximum is meant to ensure that Auditorium Shores keeps the identity of a Major public park while also keeping its’ balanced use intact.

BCNA is disappointed that we have not been engaged earlier during the design process.  BCNA is a major stakeholder at Auditorium because Town Lake Metropolitan Park is located with Bouldin Creek’s Neighborhood Plan.  We are concerned that the proposed design to segregate dogs into a fenced-in area, which is opposed by an enormous majority of public park users,  directly conflicts with the FLUM designation for the area as “Park” or “Public Use”.

 

Furthermore, BCNA has been alerted that an agreement between PARD, APF & C3 was signed on November 14, 2013 regarding the scope of the parkland improvement project.  The agreement defines the park as a “major event venue” and BCNA clearly disagrees.   As a stakeholder of the park, why weren’t we notified of this agreement and given an opportunity to review it before its’ execution?

 

Even though I received a copy of the revised design from a Council aide on Friday, BCNA still feels the design is problematic due the continued insistence of installing fences on public parkland to segregate use.  Thus, we respectfully ask the Park and Recreation Board Members to oppose the design, direct PARD to go back to the drawing table by engaging with Austin taxpayers, not C3, to create a balanced design for multiple uses by park users first and foremost, and event-attendees second.

 

Respectfully yours,

Cyndi Collen, President, BCNA

 

 

Rebate Austin !

Rebate Austin! is the Austin Public Library’s one stop shop event for folks to come and learn about all the amazing rebates and free programs available to Austin citizens!

The library has gathered representatives from all the City of Austin departments that offer rebates or free services to Austinites and these representatives will present on their department’s programs and then be available for folks to come up and talk one on one about the programs and how they can apply. In addition to the rebate meet and greet, we will be giving away  freebies, door prizes and coffee to all and  free Taco Deli tacos (breakfast tacos on the Saturday program and dinner tacos for the Monday program) will be provided for the first 40 guests!

 

Rebate Austin!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

11:00 AM Rebate Austin! at North Village Branch

Monday, November 18, 2013

6:00 PM Rebate Austin! at Manchaca Road Branch

So, just to give you a taste of what we will be offering…

  •  Information on how the Austin Fire Department will come to your home or apartment and provide you with a free home hazard inspection and install  free smoke alarms in your bedrooms –  and the smoke alarms come with batteries that will last 10 years!
  • Through Austin Resource Recovery you can get up to a $75 rebate on a home composting system and reduce your monthly utility bill by downsizing your trash cart?
  • Information on how Austin Energy you can get an $85 rebate on an internet connected thermostat that will also reduce your monthly energy bill?
  •  Through Austin Water you can get a rebate on water wise landscaping that will not only promote local plants and support wildlife but also will require less watering and reduce your monthly water bill?
  • And did you know that for 25.00 you can get a 6 month energy pass through Austin Energy for electric vehicles?!? Imagine a 25.00 “fuel” bill for 6 months’ worth of driving!!

 

For more information:  http://library.austintexas.gov/events/Rebate%20Austin!

There are so many amazing programs and rebates available to Austinites and we want to help you access them. Rebate Austin! is a one-stop shop where you can learn about all the residential rebates and freebies offered. Meet the folks who offer them and learn how to apply! Food, door prizes, freebies, ways to save money and money-back rebates. The City of Austin and the Austin Public Library are here for YOU!

 

Thank you for your time,

Monica Jones

Austin Public Library

Ruiz Branch

512-974-7524

Austin Post: Dogs to Be Banned from Auditorium Shores Lawn

Dogs to Be Banned from Auditorium Shores Lawn

Tuesday Meeting Offers Last Chance for Public Comment

By Kayte VanScoy | OCTOBER 7, 2013

The final opportunity for public comment on reducing the off-leash area at Auditorium Shores is happening Tuesday night, October 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the Dougherty Arts Center. More info here.

Story is from the Austin Post, http://www.austinpost.org/outdoors/dogs-be-banned-auditorium-shores-lawn

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It’s been heralded in the Statesman, the Chronicle, the Daily Texan, on KUT and on local TV news as the greatest thing since F1 came to town: C3, the concert promoter that puts on ACL Fest, recently donated $3.5 million to the City of Austin for the restoration of Auditorium Shores. All but one report failed to mention, however, that C3’s plans mean that the current use of the park’s six-acre lawn as an off-leash dog park will end. In fact, when the lawn re-opens, dogs will no longer be allowed on it at all – on or off the leash. Dogs at the park will be relegated to a narrow corridor along the waterfront, west of their current access.

 

Although the park is known for events like Fun Fun Fun Fest, it is used for events just over 5 percent of the year. The rest of the time, for thousands of dog owners, Auditorium Shores is the premiere amenity in the city. Its wide lawn with access to Lady Bird Lake has provided one of the few designated off-leash areas in Austin for decades.

While C3’s gift is sorely needed, these changes are unwelcome and shocking to some dog owners, who have mostly heard about them by word of mouth because the media has focused on praising C3 for providing the funds for improvements to the dog park without detailing the actual plan.

Anyone who has watched the formerly green park lawn turn into six acres of hardscrabble dirt during the current drought is likely to assume that “improvements to the dog park” mean that the dog park will be improved. In reality, they are losing half the acreage of the current site—a wide, rectangle of uninterrupted lawn—and trading it for a narrow space along the water. At C3’s request, once restored, the lawn will be completely off-limits to dogs and will not be replaced by any comparable open space.

 

 

 

Of those dog owners who have caught wind of the change, the clear majority are unhappy. At two meetings so far—a small gathering of 20 dog owners at the park in July and an angry gathering of 60 just last week—the feedback has been overwhelmingly negative from dog owners, who are the majority users of the Auditorium Shores park for the over-300 days of the year when there are no events. Parks Department staff is playing defense, saying that dog owners should have known that restriction from the lawn was imminent.

True, improving waterfront access for dogs has been planned for over ten years. A seemingly endless paradeof public design processesstakeholder committees and architectural competitions have each identified moving water access west and adding dog-friendly features as key park upgrades—always assuming, however, that such improvements would be additions to the off-leash lawn, not a replacement of it.

Public Planning at the Speed of Private Business

So, if these plans have been around so long, how has this new development managed to take dog owners (to say nothing of event planners) by surprise? It’s a long, convoluted tale that starts with a bond election in 1998 that approved funding for four stages of redevelopment to the Palmer Events Center-Auditorium Shores area. Stages and I and II went forward, and we got the whimsical, though half-realized, Butler Park and the parking garage along Barton Springs Road.

Stage III was set for Auditorium Shores to see a host of improvements including irrigation, new turf and mitigation of the awkward intersection between the hike-and-bikers heading east–west on the trail and the off-leash dogs running north–south from lake to lawn. Most plans for the area posited moving the trail and expanding the lawn area by closing Riverside Drive, but that was not to be. With the majority of the features proposed in Stages I and II still not built, the City announced in 2003 that there was not enough money to execute any more of the master plan that voters had approved.

(What happened to the cash from car rental taxes, which was supposed to be filling coffers daily? The City said it needed the money to pay salaries for the operation of Palmer. However, critics—who include a broad coalition from neighborhood activists to former city council members to designers of the park itself—point to millions in bonuses paid to City employees in the department that manages Palmer. No other City employees are eligible for such bonuses, over $5 million of which have been paid out from the rental-car fund since 2001.)

As controversy roiled over Butler Park, Palmer and Auditorium Shores, years ticked by and park improvements waited. And waited. In the meantime, event attendance, city population and, most importantly, daily use of downtown parks, has skyrocketed. Enter C3, which has built its events empire by leveraging city parks, events that have drawn over $150 million per year in business to Austin. Rather than suffer through another year of hosting events on dusty Auditorium Shores, C3 chose to step up and offer to fulfill the park’s master plan—with one change: no dogs allowed on the Auditorium Shores lawn.

As a C3-backed project, the redevelopment is now proceeding at lightning speed compared to any other development on city land in living memory. C3’s gift was announced less than six months ago, public input is still being collected and impact studies are still being done, but construction on the waterfront dog park is set to begin this month, and bids for the construction are already out.

 

As noted above, several events that use Auditorium Shores—most notably Fun Fun Fun Fest (which is not a C3 event)—have been forced to scramble to relocate. This is public planning at the speed of private business. While public-private partnerships are necessary, and C3 is a valuable partner—rivaling SXSW in its contribution to business revenue citywide and contributing over $12 million to their venues/our parks since 2006—it is worth asking whether it isproper to so heavily favor one small, private businesswith directing the development and allowed uses of our city’s premiere public parks. Are Zilker’s Great Lawn and Auditorium Shores still Austin parks, or are they really venues that we are allowed to use when the stages are broken down?

One wonders, too, about the off-leash dog park on the Great Lawn, where C3’s ACL Fest is held and where they have donated millions for restoration and upkeep of the lawn. If dogs are okay for Zilker, why not for Auditorium Shores? Or will it turn out to be just the opposite: once C3 succeeds in moving dogs off of the Auditorium Shores lawn, can Zilker’s Great Lawn be far behind?

If you’re itching to make your voice heard on this matter, the last opportunity for public comment is happening Tuesday night, October 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the Dougherty Arts Center. Or, you could always email city staff, the Parks Foundation, the Parks and Rec board, or C3. 

Meeting Regarding Auditorium Shores Project Tonight, 10/8, 6:30pm, Dougherty Arts Center

It seems there will be, for some, a dilemma for how to spend one’s evening tonight.   Our bi-monthly GA meeting is being held tonight at Vuka and the agenda is packed with informative topics.

Also tonight is the last public input meeting regarding the Parkland Improvement Project at Auditorium Shores.  I find this meeting to be terribly important because, whether you use the park or not, what is at stake is how much influence C3 has over the use of public parkland.

Bull dozers will be coming to Auditorium Shores in January to change the layout of the trails and install a new lawn (and maintenance system).  The City is paying nearly $5m up front for this project and will receive $3.5m back from C3 over the next 5 years.  The access for dogs to go into the water will be moved to improve safety for runners/bikers.

However, the off-leash area will be significantly reduced, which will have other safety issues for dog owners and dogs that are not being addressed.   Also, during the last public input meeting, a PARD official said the reason for the off-leash reduction was due to input from other ‘stakeholders’ but they would not identify these other ‘stakeholders.’

Gary Hyatt told me, when I first became BCNA Prez, that BCNA is the defacto guardian of Auditorium Shores.  We know this treasured park is used by all Austin residents but since it’s in our ‘front yard’, BCNA advocates to support the park’s public use versus private events.

As an owner of three dogs, I moved to the Bouldin Creek neighborhood specifically due to our close proximity to Auditorium Shores.  It is frustrating when most areas of this park are closed due to private events (and their load-in and load-out) but most of us accept this.

However, the drastic reduction of the off-leash area is beyond frustrating as it not only affects dog owners.   This reduction affects all taxpayers as it seems that the City is deferring decisions on how to use public parkland to private enterprises (“stakeholders”) rather than city residents.

TONIGHT is the last chance the public has to ask tough questions regarding the decision making for this project,  6:30 PM, at the Dougherty Arts Center, 1110 Barton Springs Rd.

Here are some of the questions I will be circulating to city officials over the next two weeks:

 1.  Does the private contribution of C3 for improvement on public parkland create a conflict of interest for the City of Austin?  What evidence do taxpayers have that C3 does NOT have influence over the parkland’s public use?

2.  Do COA ordinances / land use / codes provide the authority for the Mayor/City Manager/Council  to significantly decrease the public’s access to city parkland?

3.  Has PARD considered the safety of dog owners and dogs when they reduce the off-leash area?  Has PARD done any research on the effects of numerous off-leash dogs in an area that may not be big enough to accommodate their ability to run, play and socialize?  Could a smaller area contribute to a dog’s instinct to become provocative or aggressive?