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Council outlaws vaping, postpones demolition case

Friday, May 12, 2017 by Jo Clifton

At its abbreviated meeting on Thursday, City Council directed the city manager to make changes to the city’s smoking ordinance to clarify that “smoking” includes electronic smoking devices as well as regular cigarettes, so that vaping will no longer be legal in public places such as bars and restaurants.

It also directed the city manager to add electronic smoking devices to existing prohibitions against sale, delivery and use of cigarettes to minors.

Council also heard testimony from Dan Becker, a historic preservation consultant for neighbors who oppose demolition of a duplex property at 1207 and 1209 W. 22½ St.

Becker, who is from Raleigh, North Carolina, was in town for a scheduled hearing on an appeal of a decision by the Historic Landmark Commission to grant a demolition permit on the Spanish eclectic style property. Council allowed him to testify but postponed the rest of the hearing until next week.

Becker said staff did not do enough research on the properties or give the landmark commission sufficient information to determine whether the properties should be landmarked.

He said there was no research on the Shaw family and real estate development done by Larry Shaw, who built the duplexes and lived in them with his wife during the 1920s and 1930s.

In their report to the commission, city staff did recommend rehabilitation and adaptive reuse rather than demolition. The staff report says, “This area of West campus is still very residential with many older one-story homes still used as single-family residences or duplexes. … And it retains the feel of the old neighborhood. … It would be very unfortunate to lose these twin (homes) as they represent a popular style of their time and are part of the historic fabric and character of this neighborhood.”

However, the property owners obviously disagreed with that assessment and the commission voted 7-0 to release the demolition permit. The Planning Commission upheld the decision. Council will hear more about this at next week’s meeting, and has promised to take it up early in the day.

Photo of 1207 and 1209 W. 22½ St. courtesy of the city of Austin.

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