There are several routes available to residents of Hancock Neighborhood to protest and/or intervene in a proposed development: HNA's Executive Committee, HNA's Zoning and Development Committee and neighbors right to sign up "as interested parties" with the City's Permit Department.
If there is a request to demolish or remove a historic home ( 50 years plus), HNA and neighboring properties may become "interested parties" and challenge the permit request before the Historic Landmark Commission, and the option is always available to make comments at the Planning Commission and before the City Council.
Since January, 2015, one or more of these avenues have been used to question and/or protest developments. The Executive Committee and neighboring property owners protested the Liberty street developments, where we were able to force minor adjustments to one of the projects. Neighbors and the Executive Committee went before the the Historic Landmark Commission to protest the demolition of the historic home on Harris Park Avenue. Not winning that venue, the Executive Committee and neighbors went directly to the new buyer requesting them to preserve the home as much as possible and to rent to families. The owners responded favorably, but we have not seen the final building plans.
Kathie Tovo's aide, at the request of neighboring property owners, looked into the Beanna street duplex, and the Zoning and Development Committee has reviewed the Beanna Street project and the Duncan street permit. We have used the mechanisms available, but, regrettably,all these developments are legal.
There is not a neighborhood in Austin that is not faced with the demolition of historic homes, and the loss of single family homes to duplexes. Under current code, we can not prevent these developments. The occupancy reduction limits code, passed in March, 2014, which limits the number of unrelated people in a duplex, has greatly prevented the number of single family homes being replaced by duplexes.
But the code had a two year limit and this fall we will once again need to mount an all -out fight to make the occupancy limit code permanent. During the Code rewrite, we can, if we choose, fight to prevent duplexes in single family zoned neighborhoods.
As President of HNA, I personally, think residents of Hancock should be vocal about projects such as these above that raise significant concerns including using all avenues available and writing to all members of the Mayor and City Council to notify them to what is occurring.
Residents of HNA must continue to be hyper vigilant and to alert the HNA Executive Committee and the Zoning and Development committee about all permit requests and any questions you have regarding those permits.
Best regards, Mark Harkrider
Harkrider Group, LLC
P O Box 11550
Austin, Texas 78711