The Real Estate Council of Austin, the group that constantly lobbies the City to give away subsidies to big business, who fought against changes to City policies that would create more ADA compliant housing, who has tried to take over our affordable housing projects to make a quick buck, and who fought to keep the City from charging developers for hook-ups to new projects is back at it.
Now RECA want to get rid of the Heritage Tree Ordinance, showing why RECA continues to be Public Enemy Number 1 in Austin.
More info below the cut
RECA CodeNEXT Working Group
Phase 1 Stakeholder Input
January 15, 2014
The approach to the rewriting of the land development code should be future-focused. While it will be hard to disregard the ordinances and code amendments of the past, not doing so puts the future of our city at risk.
We should not redline the current code, but instead start with a blank slate and write the code with the best future for our rapidly growing city as the primary goal and using the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan as the roadmap…Heritage Tree Ordinance· The goal of our tree ordinance should be to maximize trees for the next generation. Often times this goal would mean a replanting was preferred over a single tree relocation, some of which have costs as much as half a million dollars for a single tree.·
Allow re-plantings by right. Large trees are not inherently spiritual, and perhaps the use of word “heritage” should be re-evaluated. We are talking about large trees.· Maintaining caliper inches is what’s important. Under the current Heritage Tree Ordinance it is quite possible that we are losing net trees and experiencing unintended consequences.· The Heritage Tree Ordinance is often in conflict with other city policies (e.g., trees in the ROW greater than four inches are protected, but another City department also wants more sidewalks.)·
How do you determine value of tree in the ROW? The City checklist is not public, and private assessments seem to come in lower. This was the case with South Shore PUD.· In general, the impervious cover allowed may conflict with the percentage of trees needing to be preserved. What is reasonable?· The tree ordinance should contemplate lot size and density. Small lots should have a lower bar with regard to tree protection, as should lots zoned for greater density.· It is hard to ask small residential developers to sign a legal document stating trees will live; a fee is often the easiest “out”, but there is concern over how/when fees are spent.· How can PARD and PDRD work more cooperatively on the issues of trees?·
See APPENDIX G for photographs demonstrating how the tree canopy we have today developed since the 1950s.But at the same time, RECA says:WHEREAS, there is market demand for suburban style product in some parts of Austin and this is not in conflict with the Imagine Austin growth concept map; and…WHEREAS, The Real Estate Council of Austin, Inc. and other stakeholders, such as the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin, thoroughly vetted from 1995-2005 many of the issues now again on the table and at that time demonstrated the significant cost implications of these subdivision regulations.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The Real Estate Council of Austin, Inc. opposes the redrafting of the subdivision regulations and transportation criteria manual (TCM).BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the goal of “compact and connected” should not trump other values of the Austin community, such as affordability and consumer choice.