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President of the Austin Neighborhoods Council

Friday, July 14, 2000 by

By Nancy Love and Jo Clifton

He’s one of the serious-looking people frequently found standing at the back of the City Council chambers—wherever they happen to be. He’s the one who comes forward to tell the Planning Commission what Austin’s neighborhoods, and their myriad associations, would like on zoning cases and changes to city land use ordinances. He’s one of the city’s busiest volunteers. He’s Will Bozeman, president of the Austin Neighborhoods Council (ANC). The council is a citywide, umbrella coalition of neighborhood groups. Bozeman has held the top spot in the organization since January 1999. He works at the Texas Department of Transportation as well, in the transportation operations office. “That’s the department’s traffic engineering office,” Bozeman says, describing his work as “solving day-to-day problems.” Bozeman says, “The challenges facing Austin neighborhoods right now are immense–and that can be demanding, but it’s also energizing.” He declines to even guess how many hours a week he spends on his ANC duties, but says, “Is it all-consuming? Yes.” He lists some of the bigger issues being addressed by the ANC: Smart Growth, housing affordability, single-member districts, and light rail. Bozeman attended Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting and met Thursday night with members of the commission’s codes and ordinances committee. The committee is trying to find out why some neighborhood groups object to Smart Growth plans for allowing two residences on one lot, known as “granny flats.” As for light rail, Bozeman says there is a considerable range of opinion within neighborhoods about the subject, and the ANC currently takes no position on the matter. The coalition is working toward a position, however, and is supporting neighborhood participation in planning efforts for light rail. Bozeman comments, “Ultimately we want to find a light rail project that works for neighborhoods and that supports the preservation and improvement of the quality of life in existing neighborhoods. The great test will be whether the project can achieve that standard.”

Many opportunities to serve

Bozeman has been selected as a community representative for the Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) peer review steering committee, which is spearheaded by Neal Kocurek. Bozeman says, “CAMPO is at the core of a number of growth decisions. How we plan transportation systems has a marked effect on land use, and it also effects how we ‘plan around’ some of these other issues.” Bozeman says the steering committee was created because, “there are a lot of people in the business community that didn’t have a comfort level with what the CAMPO long-range plan projected because it didn’t give them enough roads… The problem is, neither did most of the grass-roots neighborhood, environmental and transportation activists in town either, but for entirely different reasons. I think trying to resolve some of those differences in the community about the transportation process—or at least to reach some common ground—is something good that could come out of the steering committee.” Bozeman is also on the Day Labor Program Board of the First Workers’ Corp. He says that when the city relocated the day labor program from Cesar Chavez Street to the area at 50th Street and I-35 last year, the move was conditioned on two things: (1) that the program would perform better than it had downtown and (2) that it would not have an impact on the immediate neighborhood. The board of the First Workers’ Corp. has not yet decided whether to accept or reject a consultant’s conclusion that there has been no real impact on the neighborhood. But Bozeman says, “There have been some very significant incidents. There’s a noticeable change in the amount of foot traffic on neighborhood streets, and in general, the center has proven to be a magnet for some of the same criminal problems that were present downtown—to a lesser degree, but nonetheless significant in a residential neighborhood. “To go back to the conditional basis of siting the facility there that Council made in their decision, we may well be at a point where it is time to close up and seek a better site…These things have to have a significant buffer from residential neighborhoods. I think all of us on the board who are neighborhood representatives are fairly level-headed and realize that there are several interests that need to be balanced, and one is neighborhoods, and another is the need for (the site) to be accessible to day laborers. Those may be competing interests, but they do not necessarily conflict. But they should be laid out. And that is what ANC has promoted—that all interests in the community are weighed and that a judicious approach is made to the siting of these LULUs (locally undesirable land uses).” Bozeman recalls he began his involvement with neighborhoods as a member of the North University Neighborhood Association (NUNA). “I’d been newsletter editor for NUNA since 1988 or 1989. I also served as vice president in 1995 or so. At one time or another, I’ve held every position in NUNA that there is. I’d also been involved in a range of community committees. I was actively engaged with planning and transportation issues, in one form or another, for more than a decade.” Asked how things have changed since he first became involved, Bozeman said, “We’re slowly advancing. Obviously, we didn’t have neighborhood planning 10 years ago—you fought it out lot by lot.” And that’s still the case in a lot of areas, of course, he says. “We’re a community that has to learn to solve our problems faster than they’re being created. You’re starting to see things work better, but there’s still a lot of conflict. A lot of us are of the opinion that a lot of that (conflict is) due to the boom economy, and I think, given that special circumstance, everyone involved with these issues—the development community, city staff, neighborhood leaders alike—should take special measures to let people know what’s happening and why and involve them in the process more adequately. And that’s a responsibility that I think everybody has a share of.” Bozeman moved to Austin in 1982 to attend the University of Texas. He brags, “Austin is a great place. The quality of life is tremendous.” Bozeman believes Austin’s greatest issue is growth management. He says, “The great challenge is to address these problems and establish sustainable growth. We need to establish a vision of what Austin should be—and should not be—and pursue it.” The ANC, Bozeman says, is committed to consensus building. He says, “The City Council, city management and neighborhood leaders need to be more concerted in their efforts. Sometimes it seems as if there is a pervasive attitude that neighborhoods are part of the problem and a roadblock to solutions. This is particularly true when it comes to an issue such as affordable housing projects, but we are willing to ask what the ‘other side’ in a given matter is thinking, and to look at what they are doing as well.” Bozeman is a graduate of the most recent Leadership Austin class. On a personal note, Bozeman says that when he’s not working he likes to watch UT football, but the demands of his job do not allow for much leisure activity. He was majoring in civil engineering at UT when his studies were interrupted by kidney failure, and he survived a transplant operation seven years ago. Bozeman was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, on June 30, 1964 and grew up in Oklahoma City. .

Revolving electric doors…Milton Lee, who carries the hefty title of Executive Manager of Genco Business Development at the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) will be leaving the LCRA for a job with City Public Service, the electric utility for the City of San Antonio. A spokesman for the LCRA said Lee's last day there would be July 28. Lee is a former general manager of Austin Energy, a position he resigned in September, 1998, when he moved to the LCRA. Lee follows John Moore, also a former general manager of the city’s electric utility, in departing the river authority. Moore left recently to become vice president for Grande Communications…Speaking of energy…Both LCRA and Austin Energy hit new record peak electric usage on Wednesday. LCRA spokesman, Bill McCann, said his agency hit 2,514 MW in the early evening hours. The previous peak was 2,454 last August. Cathy Kirwin of Austin Energy said that utility hit 2162 on Wednesday, a new all-time high. Austin Energy's previous peak was also last August at 2,132, she said. Both McCann and Kirwin said they expect even higher peaks in the near future. Kirwin said the high temperatures, growth in the system, and increased individual use—from more computers and bigger homes—have put extra demands on area electric utilities… Wynn hires assistant…Council Member Will Wynn has hired Mark Nathan, a public relations consultant with a background in Democratic politics, as his executive assistant. Nathan’s first day on the job will be Monday. Most recently, Nathan has been vice president of TateAustin. He has also worked in New York for Sawyer Miller Consulting and was field director of the Missouri Clinton/Gore Campaign in 1996. He worked for Gov. Ann Richards’ 1994 campaign. Nathan is on the board of Habitat for Humanity and the Austin Community Development Corporation and describes himself as “a Bob Dylan fanatic.” Thursday night about 150 voters listened to 14 candidates for Mayor and Alderman positions on the new Wimberley City Council. Linda Hewlett, Allan Kimball and Dick Larson are vying for mayor. Larson told the crowd he voted against incorporation.Answering questions were candidates Walter Brown, Dennis Bullock, Murray Dyer, John Graddy, John Hyink, Stephen Klepfer, Martha Knies, Matt Manis, Tony McGee, Daniel Scales and Jim Sheffield. They are competing for five alderman seats. Two other candidates, Butch Watts and Jim Winn, did not attend the forum held at Wimberley High School. The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District Board last night approved a resolution supporting the Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the LCRA relating to the proposed U.S. 290 water line "with the understanding that…additional water quality standards may be developed by local governments in the region served by the water line, subject to approval by USFWS."

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