I want to apologize for the length of this post in advance, but I think
all neighborhoods need to be aware of what has happened in regards to Code Next and North Austin neighborhoods. Several of our neighborhoods requested our Code Next boxes, and we discovered that Code Next had lumped all the neighborhoods that didn't have a neighborhood plan into one enormous "reporting area".
When I asked why we did not get individual maps, I received an email
from George Adams and also from Carol Gibbs who, at the ANC meeting tonight, responded to my questions by stating that City staff and Code Next decided to not create individual maps for neighborhoods further out, because those neighborhoods are
not as dense.
The email, and my response, are below.
I am responding on behalf of Jill Goodman. Apologies for the delayed
response on this. The “Neighborhood Reporting Areas” map was created several
years ago for the purpose of collecting and reporting data in Austin. The
Neighborhood Planning Areas (in the central core) had already been identified
and named, so those areas remained unaltered. The rest of the City was then
separated into similarly-sized polygons, using logical boundaries such as
roadways. These new polygons did not consider neighborhood association
boundaries, nor did they consider future neighborhood planning efforts. They
were drawn purely for the sake of having a logical means for gathering/reporting data. Names of the new reporting areas were based on known entities within each area, simply to make it easy to identify the general location within the city. Some were given the same name as an established neighborhood association, but many were not.
The CodeNext team is now using the 103 Neighborhood Reporting Areas as
the base maps for the “Community Character” exercises, where Austinites can
document their communities’ character, assets, challenges, and opportunities
with regard to land development issues. Each group that checks out a “Community Character in a Box” kit can choose to conduct their exercise within a sub-set of their area map, such as their neighborhood association. We do not expect any group to cover an entire Neighborhood Reporting Area with one kit. Each part of town will receive the same consideration as every other part.
Feel free to contact me or Carol Gibbs if you have questions or
I wish that we had been consulted on this 'Gracywoods reporting area'
that Code Next decided to lump our neighborhoods (Gracywoods, River Oaks, Walnut Creek, Lamplight, North Shield, North Star, Scofield Ridge, Scofield Farms, Park at Walnut Creek, and Quail Hollow) into.
it may make it easier for the City to gather data during the Code Next
process, but there are several enormous problems with it.
The first is the name. Gracywoods Neighborhood Assoc. is an umbrella
organization formed to represent a cluster of neighborhoods and HOAs connected by the Northstar Greenbelt. To suddenly have a second Gracywoods that also compromises many neighborhoods is enormously confusing.
It would have been far better, and far less confusing, to have called
it Walnut Creek after the large creek that runs through our neighborhoods and
also after the Walnut Creek Baptist Church, established in the 1850s and one of
the oldest structures in Austin. Those are the known entities in our area - not
The second and bigger problem I have, though, is with grossly inaccurate statement made by City Staff tonight - that the City and Code Next
decided not to create individual maps for neighborhoods further out because the city becomes less dense in those areas.
Most Austin neighborhoods are 3500 people per square mile, downtown is
5400 people per square miles. North Austin is much denser, about 6500 people per square mile. So our North Austin neighborhoods are two to three times as dense as the average Austin neighborhood.
The zipcodes that our neighborhoods are in are some of the city's most
populated zipcodes. Reference:
Just as important, our zipcodes have consistently ranked in the top 10
zipcodes for growth in the area for the past 20 years.
North Austin is literally the last bastion of affordable housing for
families. The proof is in the low median age of many of our voting precincts and the fact while other areas are town are closing their schools, AISD just added two more elementary schools in our area and we still need another one. We have also literally run out of places to put our Pre-k.
So the fact your staff does not know these basic demographics about
North Austin, and has now stated that Code Next chose to use this 'reporting
area' instead of individual maps because we are not dense enough reveals an
enormous and very critical flaw in the Code Next process.
Code Next is supposed to be about figuring out how to create dense,
affordable neighborhoods that can handle Austin's intense growth. But you just
revealed that your staff has never even took the time to research and identify
which neighborhoods are the case examples that should be studied.
Lets think about that for a moment. Tonight, at the ANC meeting, it was
revealed that Code Next and City staff never bothered to even do some basic
research on demographics to identify the neighborhoods that are the best
examples for the very goals you say you want to achieve.
I will let the neighborhoods that have been lumped in the "Gracywoods
Reporting Area" know that we can still do the exercise as individual
neighborhoods, but we will have to share one single map and we are being
required by Code Next to draw our boundaries ourselves.
I am also ccing City Council on this email, as well as our ANC reps and
the ANC president and blind copying North Austin leaders, so they are aware of
that 2 million dollars of tax payer money, does not, apparently, buy even the
most basic research and preparation for this project.
-Again, I know this is a very long post, but I think this entire exchange raises some enormous red flags that we all need to be aware of as
Austin community leaders.
Editor -North Austin Community Newsletter