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Manchaca is (again) still Manchaca – for now

Friday, November 30, 2018 by Andrew Weber, KUT

A Travis County district judge has hit pause on the city’s attempt to change Manchaca Road to Menchaca – again.

Business owners from the group Leave Manchaca Alone sued to block the Austin City Council’s October decision to change the name of the eight-mile South Austin road earlier this month. They said that the city failed to give public notice and that the name change would be cost-prohibitive for businesses along the road that would have to alter signs and other branding.

Nine business owners and neighbors got a temporary restraining order against the city’s attempt to roll out the new signage earlier this month. Judge Dustin Howell’s decision Nov. 29 extended that order until Dec. 13.

Attorney Roger Borgelt, who represents Leave Manchaca Alone, says Howell seemed receptive to his argument that the city failed to notify residents of the name change.

“About 140 of addresses that the city used were invalid addresses,” Borgelt said. “So, we think we’ve got pretty substantial evidence there that the city failed to comply.”

The city argues that it gave written notice to 1,700 property owners along the road and that it held a public hearing ahead of the Council vote, per state law.

Council Member Pio Renteria sponsored the ordinance, which passed in October. He and other proponents have argued the name represents a historical misspelling of José Antonio Menchaca, a onetime captain in the Texas Army who fought in the Battle of San Jacinto. Menchaca frequented the area near Manchaca Springs, which proponents say was named for him.

Austinite Faith Robbins, 24, is one of those proponents – as well as being Menchaca’s great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter. Robbins says she understands why some business owners want the name to stay the same and that the costs associated with the name change may be a lot for small business owners to bear.

But, she believes, the city’s move to change the name is a corrective measure that’s long overdue.

“There’s a street name that connects Manchaca, Texas, to Austin, Texas,” she said. “Why would we assume it’s named for anything else? I don’t know, it seems very commonsensical to me that those two connect. But, all in all, you know, he was a veteran. He was at the founding of Texas.”

Borgelt said both he and the city’s attorneys will brief the court further. Howell may rule at any time after next Friday or he could set another court date.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo by Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News.

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