The North Central Austin Candidate Forum, sponsored by the Allandale, Brentwood, Crestview, Highland, North Shoal Creek, and Wooten neighborhood associations, is the day after Easter, Monday April 13, from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM, Wozniak Hall, St Louis Catholic Church, 7601 Burnet Rd.
The neighborhoods identified city planning as a unifying theme of the forum. Candidates will be asked detailed questions on how to plan for and fund the land use and transportation changes in North Central Austin required to support tens of thousands of new residents in the coming years.
The City in 2007 rezoned hundreds of acres of commercial property along Burnet, Anderson, Lamar and Airport to allow for apartments, with no hard requirement other than sidewalks for what planners call functional public open space – plazas, playscapes, outdoor dining, trails, parks and wildlife habitat – each of which serves a vital purpose in a dense urban environment.
"You need these kinds of features to make urban residential districts liveable, pedestrian-and transit-friendly, resilient to decline once the shine is off the brick," said Steven Zettner, who belongs to a New Urbanist advocacy group, SNAustin.org, aligned with the neighborhoods.
Zettner compared 2nd Street District near City Hall, slated for 15% public open space, to the Anderson Ln VMU corridor, with 2% open space. "The City wants to make our older suburbs pedestrian-friendly, but they've left out the secret ingredient."