Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Will Pool's spiteful NIMBYism derail new housing?!?

"And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[a] There is no other commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:31

[Author's Note: Read the first linked Austin Monitor article here, and the second one here.]

We first discussed the Grove three weeks ago; some new developments:
ARG Bull Creek Ltd. is ratcheting up pressure on City Council members to approve the Grove at Shoal Creek, a massive planned unit development it hopes to build on a 75-acre lot at the corner of Bull Creek Road and 45th Street.

In a letter addressed yesterday to Mayor Steve Adler and all 10 members of Council, Jeff Howard, an attorney for the developer, states that the company will abandon its plans for a planned unit development if Council adopts a number of changes to the project offered by Council Member Leslie Pool, the leading opponent of ARG’s proposed project.

If ARG ditches the PUD application and instead pursues conventional zoning, the developer warns, the resulting project will be a group of expensive single-family homes rather than a mixed-use development that includes affordable housing, office space, retail and more parkland than would be required under conventional zoning.

Among the many amendments Pool has proposed, the one the developers view as the most unworkable would reduce the number of daily vehicle trips the project is allowed to generate by 25 percent, from roughly 24,000 to roughly 18,000.

That limit, argues Howard in the letter, would result in a nearly 50 percent reduction in office space, a 33 percent reduction in retail development and a 25 percent reduction in residential units.

Pool and the Bull Creek Road Coalition, a neighborhood coalition that Pool used to lead and that opposes the current Grove proposal, have said they do not object to the amount of housing proposed for the site. Instead, they want less commercial space on the site.

ARG has countered, however, that if it reduced vehicle trip counts only by reducing commercial space, the commercial development allowed would be too small to create the necessary “critical mass” of retail.
In other words, rather than taking a meaningful step to address Austin's housing shortage, Pool wants to continue business as usual.

Also, the notion that the opponents only object to the commercial space is nothing more than a disingenuous stall tactic.

Then this happened:
Mayor Steve Adler hopes to start the process of approving the Grove at Shoal Creek, a controversial planned unit development in Central Austin, at City Council’s next meeting on Thursday.

At a Council work session on Tuesday, Adler explained to Council colleagues that he supports approving a draft plan of the PUD on “first reading” at their next meeting. He noted, however, that whatever is approved on the first reading (of the required three) will simply be a “placeholder” draft that he will be open to changing after further talks with city staff, neighborhood groups and the developers pushing the project.

Adler suggested that the “placeholder” ordinance largely mirror the recommendation made by the Zoning and Platting Commission in July but incorporate some of the amendments proposed by Council Member Leslie Pool that would reduce the amount of retail and commercial space allowed on the now-vacant 75-acre field at the corner of Bull Creek Road and 45th Street.
So...Pool's stalling has gotten us to a situation where Adler's office is trying to "broker a compromise."  Great.  That usually works out swimmingly.

We honestly don't know what to say.  We have no idea what will happen.  We find ourselves tempted to use language inconsistent with a family friendly website, but will suffice to say that this is a textbook example of 'governance' under Austin's old guard.

Bottom Line: We live in a city with a chronic housing shortage.  Someone wants to build LOTS of housing.  How is this even controversial?!?

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