Monday, April 30, 2018 by Austin Monitor

Reporter’s Notebook: Is CodeNEXT spreading?

Contagion… Is the trauma of CodeNEXT spreading to other Central Texas cities? That’s the horrific question at least one Sunset Valley resident must have asked herself when she opened her mailbox recently. Inside was a postcard sent by the city of Austin inviting her to learn more about the effort to rewrite the Land Development Code. “CodeNEXT could potentially affect how your property or properties near you may be developed in the future,” the card reads. While CodeNEXT spokesperson Alina Carnahan wasn’t exactly sure how the missive got mailed to a resident of a different jurisdiction, she allowed that the accident may have occurred due to sourcing addresses from Austin Energy’s customer database. In any case, she affirmed that CodeNEXT will absolutely not apply to Sunset Valley, so residents there can go back to eating their popcorn while we Austinites continue our raging battle over whether to allow duplexes here or a day care there.

Immediate payoff… Now in effect for a year thanks to two six-month pilot programs, the later noise curfews for outdoor clubs in the Red River Cultural District became permanent last week right as venues such as Stubb’s BBQ, Mohawk and Barracuda were welcoming volume-pushing acts onto their stages for the revived Levitation music festival. A visit to see the opening-night Ty Segall/Parquet Courts show at Stubb’s on Thursday showed how the later hours can be a benefit for local acts, which was one of the reasons City Council enacted the later hours in the first place. With a sold-out crowd that packed the place early, and the 7 p.m. start affording an extra hour of playing time, Austin punk band A Giant Dog got to play in front of a lot of new fans and take home the paycheck that comes from opening for a pair of national touring acts. Club operators say the later weekend shows being a permanent feature of the district will start to pay off even more by this summer because they can now book large touring shows well into the future, knowing they won’t have a rushed production schedule and can accommodate longer shows. That means more opportunities for local acts to get booked into big shows, and presumably more alcohol sales to help the profit margins of the businesses that operate on notoriously thin margins.

A bump in the road… Opponents of speed humps won an important battle when their fury prompted the Austin Transportation Department to remove rubber traffic calming devices only months after installing them on Jester Boulevard in Northwest Austin. But they clearly didn’t win the war. In an email to Council Member Alison Alter that she shared with the Austin Monitor, anti-speed hump activist Karen Sironi, who co-founded the North Cat Mountain Neighborhood Association, reported that new humps had been installed on Lakewood Drive, “my west access road to my home of 36 years.” Sironi and others have said that the new rubber speed humps cause pain to those with spinal injuries. At a meeting of the Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities next month, she said in the email, “a motion will be made to stop the use of vertical speed mitigation devices.” A spokesperson for Alter said that the Council office is requesting information from ATD about whether the neighborhood was informed about the speed humps before they were installed.

Family dishonor… A proposed development in Southeast Austin hit a snag at the Planning Commission due to concerns about the road that the project is located on, Nuckols Crossing Road. Among other things, the road is way overburdened, lacks pedestrian and bike infrastructure, and has repairs that are long overdue. Commissioner Tom Nuckols noted sadly that the road is in fact named after a relative: “The family is highly disappointed that we have a substandard road bearing our name.”

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Caleb Pritchard, Chad Swiatecki and Jack Craver.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

City of Austin Planning Commission: This commission addresses issues of land use as assigned to it by Austin's City Code. These include the abilities "[t]o make and amend a master plan, recommend approval or disapproval of proposed zoning changes and control land subdivision within neighborhood planning areas and submit, annually, a list of recommended capital improvements." 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.

Red River Cultural District: Established in 2013, the Red River Cultural District runs from Sixth Street to Tenth Street and is a cultural district with the Texas Commission for the Arts. Its creation was intended to help preserve the live music venues located within the district.

Transportation Department: This city department is responsible for municipal transportation planning including roadways and bikeways.

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