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Betty Baker retiring after 40 years of city service

Thursday, May 21, 2015 by Jo Clifton

Betty Baker, who has served continuously on city planning boards, including 10 years on the Planning Commission and nearly 11 years on the Zoning and Platting Commission – almost all of that time as chair of one or the other – is stepping down. City Council will honor Baker, 82, with a distinguished service award and proclamation at 5:30 p.m. today in Council chambers. Baker has served under every mayor from Roy Butler through Steve Adler. Friends, acquaintances and adversaries are all invited to celebrate her retirement. In addition to her commission service, Baker was a city employee from 1974 to 1994, during which time she was instrumental in the creation of the planning department’s historic preservation program. She began her city service as a stenographer, learned everything she could about planning and rose to the position of senior planner within a short time. She also played an important role in designating at least 400 of the city’s structures as historic landmarks. Baker moved from the planning department to the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau when it was still a city department. In 1994, when the department was privatized, Baker joined the Planning Commission. She was continuously reappointed and became chair, a position she has relished. When Council decided to split the Planning Commission and ZAP, Baker moved to ZAP and became chair of that panel at its first meeting in September 2001. She has continued in that position through this week. Those of us who watch commissions appreciate Baker’s strong hand in moving items on the agenda. We will miss you, Betty.

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