The Austin Neighborhoods Council, which represents Austin residents from nearly 100 member neighborhood associations, last week handed Austin City Council a list of concerns it wants addressed.
The resolution asks City Council to address the ANC's 10 concerns before absentee voting starts on Oct. 24. ANC president Mary Ingle said she sent a copy of the resolution to Austin City Council members and Mayor Steve Adler on Friday.
If approved Nov. 8, the $720 million mobility bond, which City Council voted to put on the ballot in August, would raise the debt tax rate by about 2.25 cents—an increase of about $5 a month for the median household—in order to improve Austin's corridors, address congestion and enhance safety across the region and add or improve sidewalks and bicycle lanes in the city.
The city of Austin’s $720 million mobility bond is composed of three categories of improvement projects. The largest of the three is the proposal to implement the city’s seven corridor plans, a nearly $500 million set of projects. The all-or-nothing proposition will be voted on as one ballot measure in the election Nov. 8. Early voting is Oct. 24-Nov. 4. On Election Day, polls will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Visit www.traviscountyclerk.org for information on polling sites.[/caption]
The mobility bond includes changes to North and South Lamar boulevards, Burnet Road, Riverside Drive, Airport Boulevard, FM 969, Guadalupe Street, Slaughter Lane and/or William Cannon Lane, Loop 360, Spicewood Springs Road, Anderson Mill Road, the FM 620/FM 2222 intersection and Parmer Lane.
Pieter Sybesma of the Highland Park West Balcones Area Neighborhood Association co-sponsored the ANC resolution and said his biggest concern was citizens' inability to vote piecemeal for the bond.
"Traffic needs to be addressed. We’re not opposed to that," he said. "I think it's more the way it's been presented as an all-or-none type of situation."
The resolution criticizes the process of coming up with the mobility bond, saying it gave neighborhoods "insufficient time to understand and consider" the bond.
Ingle said her biggest problem with the mobility bond was the first concern listed in the resolution: that the mobility bond is inextricably linked to the city's improvement of the land development code, called CodeNEXT. The resolution says the the timing, interdependencies and coordination of the two—along with Capital Metro's Connections 2025 master plan and various neighborhood plans—has "not been sufficiently analyzed, considered and explained."
Other concerns include the "likely" displacement of low- and moderate-income families, possible permanent alteration of the "character of single-family neighborhoods adjacent to the corridors," the burden of traffic-mitigation costs shifting from developers to taxpayers and that the bond proposal "is not applied to all districts in an equitable manner," the resolution states.
The ANC executive committee also approved a letter Sept. 14 urging the City Council to establish policies that would prevent the proposed corridor improvements from reducing or eliminating single-family homes and single-family zoning within a 1/4-mile of the corridors.
Ingle said she doubts City Council can address the concerns before the Oct. 24 deadline "because those are monumental concerns."
The approved $720 million transportation bond would include funding for both regional and local projects as well implementing corridor plans.[/caption]
She said the ANC executive committee will decide if the council and mayor are able to "adequately" address the concerns and form an opinion on whether to support the mobility bond.
"I am waiting for the mayor to make a few public statements about protection of neighborhoods," she said.
Jason Stanford, a spokesman for Adler's office, suggested citizens read the mayor's FAQs on the "smart corridor plan" and said, "We are fully confident that we are going to be able to get ANC the answers they are looking for."
The FAQs cite studies that show the corridor plan would improve wait times at intersections, traffic flow and safety as well as save commuters money in the long term.
District 1 Council Member Ora Houston voted against adding the mobility bond to the Nov. 8 ballot in August, as the community did not have enough say in its creation, she said.
"My issue is about the fact that this plan represents others making decisions that people were not part of the conversation and had no opportunity to make," she said at the Aug. 18 City Council meeting. "This feels like I've been bullied into taking something."
Citizens will vote on the mobility bond Nov. 8. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 11, and absentee and early voting begins Oct. 24.