Austin City Council: How to Vote and Why

Prior to the AURA membership vote for our Austin City Council endorsements, the AURA board shared with members its set of recommendations and reflections on each Council race being contested this November. Since the endorsements line up with the board's original recommendations, we thought we would release the recommendations to a wider audience. Continue reading

AURA endorses candidates in Austin City Council races

The members of AURA offer the following endorsements in Austin's City Council elections: Continue reading

Austin City Council District 6 Candidate Forum

AURA will be hosting an Austin City Council District 6 candidate forum. The forum will take place this Saturday, September 17, at 6:30pm, at the Anderson Mill Limited District Community Center, 11500 El Salido Parkway. Continue reading

2016 Mobility Bond Analysis: The ‘Gallo Amendment’

On June 23, City Council moved forward with a $720 mobility bond including a proposed $55 million for sidewalks. Unfortunately, Council also passed an amendment by councilmember Gallo to take half of the sidewalk funds and to disperse the funds evenly across all council districts for Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS). As discussed previously by Brennan Griffin, the amendment has deleterious effects for pedestrian infrastructure throughout the city. Additional modifications were made at the August 11 Council meeting prior to Council voting 11-0 on 1st and 2nd readings. I will elaborate further on the effects of these funding decisions as well as to detail alternative funding scenarios. Continue reading

AURA's CodeNEXT Expectations

In line with AURA’s Platform for Austin, we expect that the items below will be seriously considered by staff and consultants while writing and mapping CodeNEXT. If AURA does not see substantial progress on most or all of these items, we will have no choice but to oppose the adoption of staff’s recommendations for CodeNEXT. Continue reading

Where the Sidewalk [Money] Ends

The Mayor and City Council recently endorsed a bond proposal for $720 million addressing mobility concerns across the city.  The mix of funding in question follows the chart below: Continue reading

Imagine Austin priority program 7: CodeNEXT

 This post is part of a series on Imagine Austin's priority programs, in light of Austin's current CodeNEXT rewrite process. View the entire series here. What is a zoning code, or land development code? It is a set of rules determined by a city that says what can be built, and what categories different pieces of land fall into. Many zoning codes restrict what types of uses each category can have. For example, “LI” means “Light Industrial” and can be used for various industrial purposes but cannot be used for commercial purposes (like a store). Zoning came about to protect people from living next to smelting plants and uses that might impact health. Continue reading

Imagine Austin priority program 6: Create a Healthy Austin

 This post is part of a series on Imagine Austin's priority programs, in light of Austin's current CodeNEXT rewrite process. View the entire series here. There is increasing evidence that moderate exercise, like walking, can extend life expectancy and reduce chronic disease.  In many places around the world people get their recommended 10,000 steps, or 30 minutes of walking, simply by going about their daily lives.  That might include walking to the bus, running errands by bike, strolling to the park, etc.What would Austin look like if we could get our daily exercise simply by going about our daily lives? Continue reading

Imagine Austin priority program 5: Continue to Grow Austin’s Economy by Investing in Our Workforce, Education Systems, Entrepreneurs, and Local Businesses

This post is part of a series on Imagine Austin's priority programs, in light of Austin's current CodeNEXT rewrite process. View the entire series here. Everyone hears about how many people are moving here each day as well the booming technology economy, but what about the residents already here who might not have those particular skills? The Workforce and Education priority is all about ensuring that our communities thrive by building up the skills of workforce, investing in small businesses, and investing in our schools. Continue reading

Reform McMansion

Re: AURA Views on Subchapter F Carport Exemption On Tuesday, the Planning Commission will consider changes to the carport exemption for McMansion.  We encourage the Planning Commission to not think small, and instead make serious reforms to the regulations. Subchapter F, better known as the McMansion Ordinance, has placed limitations on the floor to area ratio (FAR) of new homes built in Austin. According to the McMansion Ordinance, the allowable FAR for a home is calculated using lengthy and complicated sets of exemptions.  While these FAR requirements were originally devised to regulate massing and scale, they have failed to result in meaningful design improvements, and in fact have substantially harmed design, aesthetics, and the development process. Continue reading