The Austin Neighborhoods Council (ANC) appreciates this opportunity to update you on two current issues of critical importance to our neighborhoods: single member districts and short-term rentals. We ask that you follow up with your elected officials.
Austin is the fourth largest city in Texas, the 16th largest city in the U.S. and is the only city of its size to maintain the ‘At Large’ system of City Council representation. Our School Board Representatives, County Commissioners, House and Senate Representatives are all selected under a district system. On October 26, 2011, the members of the Austin Neighborhoods Council (ANC) voted to support a 10-1 Single Member District plan that would set 10 districts, sensitive to long standing geographic and neighborhood boundaries, each with its own representative to City Council. The mayor, of course, would still be elected by the entire city. It is very apparent to everyone who has dealt with 'City Hall’ over the last 50 years that the Council has increasingly become disconnected from the community, with the opportunity for direct communication diminishing as our population grows. Council cannot provide effective constituent services. Having council members from our own neighborhoods can assure us of direct and fair representation, particularly on zoning and land use issues like Short Term Rentals (STRs) that can have an enormous impact on our neighborhoods. Please sign the petition by Austinites for Geographic Representation and tell the Mayor and Council Members that the time has come for geographic representation on City Council.
In November 2011, the Austin Neighborhoods Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution asking that the City’s Land Development Code be loosened so that the owners of homesteaded property would be allowed to rent out their homes on a short term basis of less than 30 days. Under our resolution if the Travis County Appraisal District recognizes the property as your homestead and it is owner-occupied, then your home (or garage apartment or studio) could be rented short-term. The thought here is that this would be an occasional use of your homestead and that you would remain an integral part of your neighborhood. What is very troubling to the ANC is when these vacation rentals are operated on a purely commercial basis as a sort of mini-hotel. The best estimate is that there are more than 600 of these commercial STRs (CSTRs) in the City. A commercial use this intense is not appropriate in our single-family neighborhoods. The ANC resolution asks council to prohibit, and not grandfather, CSTRs. A public hearing on whether to change the land use code to allow STRs/CSTRs in single-family neighborhoods is scheduled to go before the City Council on June 7th. They need to hear from you. Join us at City Hall and email Council. Tell them not to allow a sweeping insertion of a commercial use into residential zoned areas.
Email the Mayor and City Council at <http://www.austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members>. or
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Visit the Austin Neighborhoods Council website for more information http://www.ancweb.org or contact Helen Rockenbaugh at email@example.com , 447-5816.
Steven Aleman, President
Austin Neighborhoods Council