WOOTEN NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
Minutes of 9 May 2011
Vice-President Christina Muller called the May meeting, held in the Redeemer Lutheran Church cafeteria, to order at 7:02 PM. She introduced the other officers present, Treasurer Opie Gonzalez and Secretary Carolyn Spock, and the Code Compliance guest speaker, Terry Hurd.
Code Compliance Representative Terry Hurd
Mr. Hurd Terry.Hurd@ci.austin.tx.us, 974-9029, first explained the difference between the 311 and 911 numbers, with 311 to be used for non-emergency calls and 911 to be used when there is an immediate need for assistance. The 311 number may be used to report environmental problems – discarded furniture on the side of a yard or road, abandoned cars, overgrown vegetation. The code violation reporting process can be abused; he told of a couple of individuals who have called in thousands of times, with only a few valid incidences. Compliance personnel also look for safety problems such as substandard housing. Wooten NA is in the north district, from Parmer to Anderson Lane and 51st Streets, from Mopac to I-35. This is not the same district alignment used by Austin Police Department, though Compliance does work closely with APD and the fire department. The north district is currently understaffed; there should be 8 inspectors. Their hours are 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM. They will have staff on duty some Saturdays to cover garage sales. Folks can get in touch with CC by calling or e-mailing. CC sends notices to property owners/residents outlining infractions and remedies; this is followed by warnings. Citations may be issued or the offender may be taken to court if the problem is not dealt with.
Our members have made use of CC; one noted the quick response to trash build-up at a local apartment complex. Each notice is active for a year. Apartments are difficult to work with, as tenants come and go each month leaving trash and unwanted belongings behind; many owners are out of town or out of state. The complaint process is long; some offenders work the system, drawing things out. One needs to be persistent; the call to 311 is transferred to an area investigator, who should visit the location within 48 hours. One should wait a couple of days before checking back. It is useful to keep up communications and to supply the property address when the complaint is made. Illustrations of the problem may be provided, though they can’t be used as evidence. There are rules about access to the offending property which the inspectors have to follow when checking out the site.
There was additional discussion about animal regulations, with chickens as the focus. Complaints can be filed anonymously.
WNA and Neighborhood Activities
After Mr. Hurd completed his Code Compliance orientation, neighborhood concerns were discussed.
*It was thought that it would be useful to have a committee to make recommendations about increasing WNA membership, also coming up with suggestions for improving the neighborhood; Joshua Merritt and Marilyn Rogers agreed they could look into this.
*WNA will be electing some new officers in September; time to think about replacements.
*Marilyn Rogers noted that City residents would be voting for city council members this coming Saturday, May 14. The Shriner building across from Sun Harvest is a handy early voting location.
*Members were asked if they knew of any Neighborhood Watch signs that needed replacing.
*Steve Rogers described the March Wooten Neighborhood Plan Contact Team meeting at which short-term rentals for homes were discussed. The current city code has no rules against a single-family home becoming a short-term rental. The city may be working towards instituting short-term home rental regulations; it would like to formalize things so that the motel tax would be regularly collected. Steve reminded the group that there would be a WNPCT meeting in September; two of the four officer positions would be up for election [Chair and Secretary in even-numbered years; Vice-Chair and Attendance Keeper in odd-numbered years].
*There was discussion about the Lack’s store and its future use as determined by a new owner. The potential exists for it to become an office/mixed-use facility.
Marilyn Rogers moved to approve the minutes as distributed; LaVerne Stauffer seconded the motion; the minutes were approved.
Treasurer Opie Gonzalez informed the group that Compass Bank was planning to move WNA to a different sort of account with a monthly fee of $11.95, as WNA wouldn’t be able to meet the conditions necessary to make it free. He checked around for an alternate financial institution, and found that Austin Telco still had a free business checking account that only required a $25.00 minimum balance. He has established an account there for WNA.
Opie has also filed the IRS 990-e form for WNA.
WNA banking business: The March beginning bank balance at Compass was $2,195.40. There was a $5.00 dues deposit, bringing the March ending balance to $2,200.40. Petty cash on hand was $16.27. The Austin Telco account was opened with $50.00 advanced by the Treasurer, $25.00 in a savings/share account, $25.00 in a checking account. In April, the Compass bank account was closed, with $2,200.40 and $ .25 interest deposited into the Telco checking account. Also deposited into checking was payment of $512.50 representing newsletters ads and $45.00 representing member dues. This brought the account bank balance to $2,783.15. Checks were written in the amount of $206.50 ($14.50 for Austin Telco checks and $192.00 for newsletter printing), leaving the account balance at $2,576.65 at the end of April. May business, up to the time of the meeting, consisted of the Treasurer being reimbursed the $50.00 he had advanced to open the Austin Telco account, leaving the bank balance at the time of the meeting at $2,526.65. The petty cash amount remains $16.27.
Discussion and Announcements
*Kevin Luke reported that someone had tried to kick in his door. This brought mention of the “Train the Trainer” classes that APD is holding to establish neighborhood watches.
*It was reported that there might be a gambling establishment in our neighborhood, using computers rather that standard gaming machines. One could not see into the room, and entrance was controlled at the suspected location.
*Principal Bollick at Wooten Elementary got a tree donation from a contractor that Opie Gonzalez knows. Volunteers to help water the trees would be appreciated. Josh and Kelly Merritt will coordinate watering volunteers; the PTA may help out, too. Hoses should reach from the water source to the trees, so toting buckets wouldn’t be needed.
*The new Austin Utilities facility in the old Albertson’s shopping center was mentioned.
*The meet-and-greet at the park was rescheduled. About 20 folks have contacted Josh Merritt. A proposed schedule places the meeting, to promote park use and community awareness, once a month. The Wooten group is on meetup.com.
A motion was made by LaVerne Stauffer to adjourn the meeting; it was seconded by Christina Muller. The meeting was adjourned at 8:00 PM.
The next WNA meeting is scheduled for 11 July 2011 at 7:00 PM.