Monday, February 27, 2017 by Austin Monitor

Reporter’s Notebook: More on Agenda 21

Alternative facts? In our media? It’s more likely than you think… Over the weekend, Zoning and Platting Commissioner Jim Duncan seized the rhetorical zeitgeist in a letter to City Council members, wherein he warned them that the commission had not, as initially reported by the Austin Business Journal, “reject(ed) Milestone Community Builders’ request to rezone a portion of the River Place neighborhood for new homes and an autism treatment center.” (The story was corrected following publication.) After an explanation of how commissioners had actually voted to recommend zoning for the autism center but not the associated residential project, Duncan explained, “In regard to this case, I was also very disappointed to see Milestone attempting to tie its rezoning request to the hopes, needs and emotions of those who feel so deeply about Autism. Milestone had offered the Autism Trust $5,000 for every unit they were granted if they would also support their rezoning. I received 100’s of emails from Autism-concerned people from New Jersey to California asking me to support Autism and vote for the Milestone rezoning.” He continued, “Zoning should not be for sale. It should be based on sound land use principles rather than on how much one donates to causes, no matter how worthy the cause.”

A wrinkle at Saltillo… On Friday, City Council Member Ora Houston introduced what could be another complication in the yearslong development of Plaza Saltillo, which is set for final approval (or disapproval) at Council this Thursday. A member of Houston’s office relayed a message from District 7 constituent Bob Ward, which read: “The Travis County Historical Commission has been following the discussion about the Saltillo Development Project and has been in contact with CapMetro about the property over the last few years. The Saltillo Development will sit almost exactly on the footprint of an earlier Freedmen’s Colony, Masontown, which began following the Civil War. It was an African-American settlement both before and after the railroad was built through it and descendants of the original colony lived in the area until recently. While it transitioned into a mostly Mexican-American area over time, we are afraid that the earlier history of the tract will be swept away and lost if not recognized and acknowledged at the site. Although we have been repeatedly assured by CapMetro that the Endeavor Development group would contact us regarding this issue, we have not heard anything and are starting to worry that it may get lost in the discussion. The reports that we have read seem to indicate that Endeavor is back-peddling on some of its earlier promises regarding zoning, height and affordable housing and (we) are afraid that our request will meet the same fate. Please include an historical component into the mix of demands from the city pertaining to Endeavor’s responsibilities. The Travis County Historical Commission will be happy to facilitate in any way we can.” Stay tuned to the Austin Monitor for any historical plaque developments.

Update: Following publication, a CapMetro spokesperson responded, saying: “Capital Metro staff and board are aware of the presence and historical significance of Masontown and fully intend to recognize it with a marker on the property. We have also made this known to Endeavor and they agree. As soon as we have zoning approved and we sign master development agreement, we will finalize plaque and other recognition items on the property. This has been our commitment from the beginning.”

No tagging… First, an apology: We may have celebrated Presidents Day a little too enthusiastically this year, and in our return to reality, neglected to report on a very important development in CodeNEXT media coverage. Yes, folks, Austin’s own Alex Jones has something to say about the rewrite of our city’s Land Development Code: It’s slavery. For more information, please see the very illuminating video about Agenda 21, a globalist plan, that was posted to Jones’ Facebook page earlier this month.

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebook of Elizabeth Pagano.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.

City of Austin Zoning and Platting Commission: The City of Austin's Zoning and Platting Commission addresses issues of land use as assigned to it by Austin's City Code. It has sovereign authority, or the right to make final decisions on certain cases.

CodeNEXT: CodeNEXT is the name given to the land development code rewrite process undertaken in the early 2010s by the City of Austin.

Plaza Saltillo: Capital Metro's 11-acre tract in East Austin is slated to be developed by Endeavor Real Estate Group after a 20-year process.

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