WNA March Meeting Minutes, 3/9/15

Wooten Neighborhood Association

Minutes from the WNA Meeting, March 9, 2015

Guest speakers: City Council District 7’s Leslie Pool, Austin Police District Rep Judson Chapman, Brian Eberwine from Residential Code Enforcement.

President Chris Gregory called the meeting to order at 7:00pm. The minutes were approved with Treasurer’s Victor Engel’s revision to the final balance from the last meeting from $2231.78 to $2206.78, which no longer includes the Association’s $25.00 savings balance, which will remain separate from the primary balance.

Victor provided the Treasurer’s report. The starting balance as of January’s meeting was $2206.78, and the ending balance as of tonight was $2165.63. Charges during this period included paying for WNA’s PO Box, ANC dues, and Office Depot for supplies. Petty cash increased from $25 to $50 from dues. Dues paid after the meeting tonight were not included in this final total.

Chris explained the WNA Executive Committee (EC) action regarding the North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Association resolution. The EC met last month to discuss the resolution opposing the rezoning of the Crump Automotive property on Burnet Road. The EC supported the resolution, but was careful not to say that the Neighborhood Association did as a whole, because there was no neighborhood meeting called on the issue. City Council took up the issue the day after the EC provided support to the opposed resolution, and Council approved the zoning change.

Chris introduced Wooten’s new APD District Representative (DR) Officer Judson Chapman, who goes by “Jud.” Officer Chapman has been with APD for 13 years, and has been a DR for more than three. Officer Chapman explained that Wooten is now part of APD’s Ida Sector 2 zone. Officer Chapman’s direct office line is 512-974-4705, and his email is judson.chapman@austintexas.gov. Marilyn Rogers asked about any change in our APD Commander’s Forum region. Officer Chapman explained that Wooten is now in Region 1, whose next meeting is April 7th at 7pm at McCallum High School.

Vice President Adam Turner asked about the property at 8007 Burnet Road. Officer Chapman said the facility opened on Jan. 31, and it took less than a week for APD to get lots of calls about the location. Officer Chapman said that all sex offenders at that address are in compliance with their registration, but APD doesn’t regulate group homes. Officer Chapman said that officers are in the area more because of the increased calls, but there have been no major or violence-related incidents to report at this time.

City Councilwoman Leslie Pool and one of her staffers, Amy Smith, attended the meeting to discuss various issues and neighbor concerns. Pool said that the Code, Fire, Police, and Health and Human Services Departments are all involved in the 8007 Burnet property situation. Pool said she contacted an Assistant City Manager to look into the property and coordinate the response across the departments. Pool said that Code Compliance sent notice to management that they did not have the appropriate Certificate of Occupancy (CO) to operate as a group home. Despite not having the correct CO, the tenants are permitted to stay there, and they have the chance to update the Certificate. If they can’t update it appropriately, they have to move. Pool said that for the current tenants to stay there, they have to get a zoning change for the property. Pool distributed a copy of an email she received outlining the various issues the City had identified with the property.

Pool said she assumed neighbors were sensitive to the fact that the people living there need a place to live. “They have to live somewhere, but I don’t want it to be disruptive” to the neighborhood, Pool said. Adam asked about the timeframe for the property to update the CO; Pool said that is something her office is looking into, but they have until March 18 to comply with the Fire and Code Compliance concerns, or the issues will proceed to Municipal Court.

Pool asked about what specific concerns neighbors had about the property. Adam said it was primarily a safety issue, particularly with sex offenders living there. This was echoed by a chorus of neighbors agreeing. Josh Merritt said he was concerned about frequent visits by ambulances and fire trucks to the property, as well as drinking on the street, and the resulting noise and disruption. Pool said the public drinking violates city laws, and that should be addressed proactively by APD; Officer Chapman said it is.

Pool emphasized that she is looking into additional information about the property, and she wants to know how the situation developed in the first place. Steve Rogers said he wished the owners had approached the neighborhood association and presented themselves as wanting to abide by the rules, not disrupt the neighbors, etc. He emphasized that the issue neighbors take with the property has less to do with the individuals living there and more to do with the management. Pool suggested that the property’s management might want to come to a neighborhood association meeting to discuss the issue. Officer Chapman said he would give Chris the contact information for the property’s manager, Amos King.

Pool listed additional concerns about the property from the City’s perspective, including multiple fire code violations, and the kitchen not being permitted for a group home. Pool said she is trying to figure out what else can be done, and mentioned that the City Attorney can potentially file for injunctive relief if the situation gets bad enough. Victor asked what was there before this group home. Apparently it was some sort of nursing home, but hadn’t been used for that in a long time. A different CO was required for the nursing home than what is required now. Adam asked if the property was sold or if management just changed. Pool said she didn’t know, but intended to look it up.

Pool then addressed the Crump property rezoning. She explained that rezoning it as MF-3 would permit 100 units, while MF-6 would allow 300 units. The developer now says they want 224 units, but it is not clear about the distribution of studios/1BRs/2BRs in the complex. The developer has said he would develop under SMART housing, and is possibly interested in affordable housing. Pool said Carter Sackman is the developer, and Henry Gilmore is the agent.

Adam asked about the possibility of a six month moratorium on building along Burnet Road until the Burnet Road corridor study can be completed. Pool said the study will likely take longer than six months, but she requested from Council that additional zoning changes not be approved until Council can take a look at the corridor study. Pool emphasized that she is not opposed to density, but development should be focused in the “density nodes” and should be approved thoughtfully.

Josh asked about the Crestview/Wooten Combined Neighborhood Plan from 2004, and if it serves as any source of influence or negotiating power for zoning proposals that come before Council. Pool said it depends on the philosophy of each councilmember, but said that neighborhood plans matter to her. However, zoning is at the sole discretion of Council.

Pool’s phone number is 512-978-2107, and her email is leslie.pool@austintexas.gov.

Brian Eberwine from Residential Code Enforcement came to speak about code compliance issues. He said that boats, RVs, and signs are the biggest code issues near Wooten. Officer Chapman mentioned that the median along Research Blvd. under 183 has been cleaned up so that “it no longer looks like a tent city.” This involved code enforcement along with APD, who is there to make sure the contractors can do their cleanup without being assaulted. Officer Chapman said that they are not trying to force people out of their living spaces, but are just trying to enforce the laws and keep things clean.

Marilyn asked about code enforcement making illegal short-term rentals a priority. Eberwine said that the department has made it a high priority this year, and concerns about short-term rentals should be called into 3-1-1.

Eberwine said they will be tackling Hearthside and Hearthstone Drives in the coming weeks for issues about what’s appropriate to keep outside. Eberwine said that Gault St. has had similar issues. Rhan Jackson said he has seen an improvement on Gault recently.

Marilyn provided an Austin Neighborhoods Council (ANC) update from the January meeting. The ANC wants to get feedback about CodeNext from the neighborhood associations. The Martin Luther King Neighborhood Association asked for the support of other neighborhood associations for mandating body cameras on police officers. There is a resolution from ANC under consideration that will be sent to City Council that would allow for the honoring of neighborhood plans until CodeNext is in place.

Laura Tomlinson said that It’s My Park Day, which involved replanting the park’s corner sign, and planting a butterfly garden to attract butterflies, was a success.

Christina Muller said that since last June she has been working with the Charles Maund Toyota general manager and owner about the dealership employees parking on Lazy Lane and Kamar Drive. Christina said that 70% of the residents on those streets need to request permit parking in order for the street’s parking type to be changed. Residents would then pay something like $20/year for a permit to park on the street. Christina said the issue involved a commercial enterprise parking in a residential area. Adam asked about the possibility of making streets “no parking zones.” Officer Chapman said that issue goes through the transportation department.

Secretary Marissa Latta said that she was opposed to the streets in question becoming permit parking, and said she thought it would become difficult for friends, significant others, etc. to park on the street. Christina said that residents were allowed to register as many vehicles as they wanted to so that known non-residents would not be ticketed. Josh said it also presents a safety issue in terms of monitoring the people who are supposed to be in the neighborhood. Marilyn suggested Chris or the neighborhood association send a letter to the dealership about the issue. Chris said he would follow up with Christina about next steps.

Josh reminded neighbors that the Wooten Neighborhood Plan Contact Team (WNPCT)’s next meeting is Monday March 16 at 7pm at Shu Shu’s restaurant on Burnet Rd.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:23pm.