East Austin commercial permit moratorium requested by residents

Residents from three East Austin neighborhoods are asking the city to temporarily delay approval on any more bars, restaurants and hotels along East Cesar Chavez Street.

The proposed moratorium would stretch from I-35 to US 183 and would stop all city commercial permitting, said Patricia Link, the city’s assistant city attorney, during an Aug. 11 Planning Commission meeting. Any moratorium, if approved, would last at most 180 days including possible extensions, she said, and ongoing projects would be exempt from any ban.

“I know in the city of Austin it’s uncommon [to place commercial moratoriums],” Link said. “In other cities it may be more common.”

East Austin commercial permit moratorium requested by residents A proposed commercial permitting moratorium along East Cesar Chavez Street would exempt existing construction.[/caption]

Alberto Martinez, East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood board chairman, said Fifth and Sixth streets were identified in his neighborhood’s plan as entertainment corridors. A now-failed hotel proposal increased residential frustrations, he said, after a slew of bars and restaurants already came online along East Cesar Chavez.

“We do not want to be the next Rainey Street, and we felt the hotel would open the floodgates to that sort of thing,” Martinez said. “It’s already too late, to some extent.”

The road goes through three neighborhoods, but only two—East Cesar Chavez and Govalle/Johnston Terrace—have contact teams and neighborhood plans, said Council Member Pio Renteria of District 3. He said he would consider the moratorium if Holly residents created a contact team and neighborhood plan.

But he also wants plans that reflect residential will, Renteria said. The Planning and Neighborhoods Council Committee considered a Renteria-sponsored resolution Sept. 21—after Community Impact Newspaper’s print deadline—that would require contact teams to hold elections each January and to notify the public of meetings at public facilities during which minutes must be kept. The resolution, should it gain support, would result in a stakeholder process before returning to the full City Council.

In the meantime, Renteria and Martinez agreed more development is inevitable along the Chavez corridor.

“That’s our reality, but that doesn’t mean we have to destroy something to create something,” Martinez said.