submitted by Tom Linehan [Email address: tlinehan #AT# austin.rr.com - replace #AT# with @ ]

Neighborhood frustration – you hear it in conversations with other neighborhoods about the City’s planning process and VMU. In our area, it comes up regarding city staff approving the Northcross redevelopment without adequate notice or analysis on the impact it will have on our neghborhood.

There’s a general mistrust in the City looking after our interests. Neighborhoods that have gone through the neighborhood planning process, one that can last 18 months or longer, say the plan they worked so hard on is not being enforced. When it comes to the VMU overlay districts other neighborhoods like Allandale are asking what gives the City the right to create an overlay district that makes a blanket zoning change without notification or the right of petition?

Last week’s article in the Austin Chronicle, Developing Stories, Neighbor Power II: More lessons from Seattle, by Katherine Gregor, gives some examples on how neighborhood intersts in Seattle are given more attention. The article is the second in a series that talks about successes in Seattle as a result of an empowered neighborhood system. Instead of a cookbook approach to addressing density, the city gives neighborhoods their density targets and asks them to come up with a plan for how best to accomodate it. This is a good article. In encourage anyone interested in neighborhood issues to read it.