triman (triman) wrote,

Living high rise - VMU in Austin

On a slightly different tack,I've been part of the BCNA Planning team for the last 4-weeks while we debated VMU for S 1st, South Congress and Barton Springs. Entirely new to Austin I only bought my home here last November and moved in, I've been both pleased and horrified by the undignified rush to opt-in to VMU in what are some of Austin’s key streets.

Last night it we met to discuss South Congress, possibly one of the more important streets. A few of the committee did a great job at getting the owners and businesses in from South Congress to a meeting last night.

What transpired though was that VMU in and of itself wasn't such a big deal, although the phrase "incentivise the redevelopment" kept being used. What the rush to VMU Proposal did, was pit the business owners against the residents in an increasingly common way, parking.

If the business owners get VMU, their property can get a reduction in parking requirement, the residents can get Residential Parking Permits (RPP) easier and more quickly. The residents wanted to opt-out the many of the blocks of South Congress, for many reasons from asthetic, to not encouraging redevelopment, and also to make sure that some businesses could wiggle free of meeting current parking requirements.

All in all it was agreed that the process was broken, insomuch as this was lose/lose for the residents and businesses, it was really only good for the council(and cheap) and good for change. No matter which way things go, it won’t make any more parking spaces, and possibly less. The business folks saw the parking as something the residents were whinging about, yet the parking is just a most visible symptom of the problem, quality of life. And isn’t that something Austin is big on? I know its one of the main things that bought me here.

Parking problems mean the fire engines can’t get down your street; parking means people walking across your lawns because there are no sidewalks; parking means people dropping trash, emptying their cigarette ash trays in the gutter; parking garages higher than your first floor allow people to stare into your upstairs rooms; parking means people continuously cruising your block looking for a space and spewing out fumes; it means on Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday nights people urinating on your mail box before getting in the car, often after having long, loud conversations, you’d be surprised how many women laugh like donkeys when they’ve had too much to drink! Yep, parking is a problem, but no we don’t want to fight the businesses over it, or put them out of business. Using VMU

The BCNA Planning team essentially ended up letting all the properties on S 1st, South Congress and Barton Springs opt-in to VMU by default. Certainly not what I'd hoped. Sigh.
Tags: austin, vmu, zoning
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