HNA Meeting Minutes for March 16, 2022

Hancock Neighborhood Association

Minutes of the Meeting of March 16, 2022

Held on Zoom and recorded. Coan Dillahunty presiding.

General business and updates

At the January meeting there was concern about the classifications in the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan (ASMP- https://www.austintexas.gov/department/austin-strategic-mobility-plan). Bart Whately reported that this is the mobility plan for the streets, which designates streets with Level 1 to 5, level 1 being the narrowest. It doesn’t overlay well on some of the existing streets. Harris Ave. had been classified as Level 2, which allows for protected bike lanes and a right-of-way of 84 feet. For Harris Ave, that could take a resident's entire front yard. Although the city assured us that for older streets, they would never do that, they did reclassify Harris Ave. to a Level 1 street. Citizens can provide feedback using the ASMP website.

The Recreation Center at Hancock Golf Course will be open for in person meetings by our May meeting. The plan at present is to have an in person meeting along with a Zoom meeting.

Cady Lofts

Megan Lasch (Consultant) with Saigebrook Development (https://saigebrook.com), SGI Ventures, O-SDA Industries have partnered in this development project. They are Texas-based, women-owned firms working with the Housing Authority of Austin (HACA) to build 100 continuum-of-care studio units located on 3 lots of land at 39th St and I-35, 1004-1008 E 39th St. Currently the lots are zoned SF3 and LO-MU. The owners of the building will be SGI Ventures and HACA.They have applied to the city for a zoning change to MF-6-NP and a FLUM amendment from single use and mixed use office to multi-family. This would allow them the greatest flexibility in building height and setbacks but their proposal is building only to a height of 45 feet with setbacks of 7.5 and 26 feet. Examples of development sites were included in the slide presentation.

Joy Horak-Brown, President and CEO of New Hope Housing (https://newhopehousing.com), is working with SGI Ventures as consultants with their expertise for stable, affordable housing and services for people on a very limited income. These units would be fully furnished, energy efficient with computer centers and resident services such as health screenings, a fitness center, etc. They provide an integrated care approach with case management to deal with things like addiction, behavioral health and physical health. Emily Ablein, Vice President for Real Estate Development at New Hope Housing, Discussed the population of at-risk individuals that would be homeless if not for this type of housing that provides services for the residents.

The necessary applications have been filed with the city and state with a proposed construction start date of January-March 2023 and a 15 month completion timeline.

Hugh asked about the hearing date for the proposed zoning change. It has not been set but Megan expects that it will be sometime in May. City will send a notice to HNA about the April 7 meeting about the form change.

Josh asked about parking spaces. There will be 29 total under the building. A second follow-up question later in the meeting about parking got the reply that they plan for .3 parking spaces per person and that has always been more than enough for low income people because most of them cannot afford a car.

Robyn asked what Continuum-of-car meant? Joy answered that the residents receive vouchers through HACA to rent the units. In Austin, Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) (https://austin.echo.org/leading-system-change/continuum-of-care), is the organization that qualifies individuals for these units.

Joshua Ellinger asked about the name of the Lofts and was told it was named after Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the 19th century advocate for women’s rights and suffrage.

Bart Whately asked about SGI Ventures experience with the density level of this project. The Abali (I-35 and Airport), A senior residence across from the IRS and a planned development at Grover and Koenig was cited. He also asked about the zoning change and what protects the neighborhood from a future developer that might build to the allowable height of which135 ft. Ordinance passed by Austin to increase affordable housing called “Affordability unlocked” (https://www.austintexas.gov/department/affordability-unlocked-developmen...) is like a restrictive covenant that is recorded on the land for 45 years. If SGI Ventures’ project fell through, future developers would be restricted unless they were also providing affordable housing.

Robyn Ross asked how they work with the neighborhood. Megan replied that they work closely with the neighborhoods and listen to any concerns or complaints. They are open for suggestions about anything. Example given was the color of the building. Joy said that the best way to see how these types of projects have been managed over time is to visit some of the existing properties.

Report from the Transportation Committee (Robyn Ross)

Robyn reported on a meeting with TxDot in January. She displayed the diagram of the preferred proposal for the reconstruction of the I-35 corridor through downtown, which is titled “Modified Alternative 3.” In this proposal the upper decks would be removed and the highway would be lowered below ground level. In the downtown area, the construction includes several east/west crossings (aka caps and stitches) to allow easy pedestrian and biking over the highway. The frontage roads are all on the west side and constructed like a boulevard until 15th St. Then they move to the east side but still together until Dean Keaton. North of this the frontage roads go back to the traditional model. The caps and stitches will be installed as part of the project but the city will have to provide the funds for the bike lanes, etc that would be built on the caps. In the Hancock area there are 3 crossings at 32nd, 38 ½ and 41st St, with potential for public spaces. Airport Blvd will be at grade with the freeway running below it. Pedestrian pathways crossing Airport are still not straightforward. Modified Alternative 3 will take 20 less homes through eminent domain.

The Transportation Committee is still concerned about the traffic impact on our neighborhood of the extra lanes for a total of 20 lanes. Frontage roads will be lowered to 35 MPH.

Robyn also reported on the meeting between the North Central I-35 Neighborhood Coalition (NCINC- https://www.ncinc.org/) And TxDot in late February. They questioned TxDot about Project Connect in relation to the number of lanes needed for I-35 since the orange line down Guadalupe and Lamar will be transporting a large number of passengers along with additional bus lines. TxDot referred to a report to be published by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University that indicates the number of lanes will still be necessary. There was concern about simultaneously doing all 3 projects (Project Connect, I-35 reconstruction and moving Red River after the Moody Center). The answer was that they were coordinating all of the projects.

Mary Sanger asked if there was still talk about rerouting trucks to 130. Robyn said that there are still too many trucks that have to go through Austin so no plans to restrict that at present. TTI did a study on this specific point.

Report from the Bylaws Committee (Hugh)

Committee has been cleaning up the bylaws. Committee will have one more meeting before the May meeting of the entire association. Everyone will be notified and invited to that meeting when the date is set. Robyn reported a new idea is to add a Talent & Membership Committee that would function somewhat like a nominating committee to ensure that the Association has members running for office by the time of the annual elections. They can scout for potential officers during the year, get them acquainted with what each position entails.

Recorded by Laura Tull




HNA Meeting Minutes for January 19, 2022

Link to Video



President Coan Dillahunty called the meeting to order at 7:01

Harry Swinney moved to adopt the minutes from the December meeting, and Laura Tull seconded.

Coan reminded everyone to pay dues. Dues are $7/adult and the term runs for the calendar year. Instructions are at https://www.hancockna.org/www/join.

Treasurer report from Bruce Fairchild: beginning balance of about $4068, $557 expenses for newsletter, ANC dues and bank fee; $471 gained in HNA dues, ending balance of $3983
Money market account has $2500.

Coan introduced the candidates for officer. Three candidates from last year were able to continue serving: Coan as president, Bart Whatley as vice president, Bruce Fairchild as treasurer. Robyn Ross did not run again for secretary but nominated Laura Tull to serve. Robyn’s nomination of Laura: “Laura has been an enthusiastic volunteer in her 2ish years in the neighborhood, most recently participating in the creek cleanup on It’s My Park Day. She also writes a backyard birding column for the Hancock Herald newsletter and serves on the newsletter’s editorial board. Laura is a retired librarian and has served as secretary in other organizations. She’ll do a great job.” Laura said hello.

The candidates were each nominated verbally by an HNA member. A voice vote was taken and the slate was unanimously approved.

Next was a discussion of the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, which had been the subject of much conversation on the groups.io. The city of Austin is making amendments to the ASMP and wanted comments by January 30.

Coan showed the city’s website about the project and the map that shows where individual changes might be made on streets. There aren’t many changes to our neighborhood on Level 1 streets; the focus has been on Level 2 (of which there are multiple types). For example, the proposed changes to Harris Avenue are considered a “technical correction,” meaning the ASMP is aligning terminology with actual plans for changes to the street for the bicycle network. The city is encouraging you to comment on the map and submit questions.

Bart also put together an analysis for our neighborhood. He said the changes can look alarming, and the city didn’t do a very good job alerting people to the proposed changes, but the plan is probably not as radical as it might initially seem. He agreed with Hannes Mandel’s email to groups.io about the situation. Bart suspects city planners will modify the standards in the ASMP document to make them fit actual conditions on the ground, but it would be good to hear from the city about how they’d do that. This could be a future agenda item.

Bart said one potential concern is the types of buildings and uses that the city says are appropriate for each “level” of street. For instance, a future zoning request could be justified on the basis that “a level 2 street is appropriate for X denser development.” Bart would like to hear the city say this is all about bike/ped safety and not using ASMP as backdoor tool to justify future zoning requests.

Coan said that if the city were to take property to expand the ROW, there would have to be compensation for that, and as far as he knows pretty much all the bond funding for sidewalks and bike lanes is spoken for. The sidewalks by his house on Red River were recently expanded, and the city’s initial plan had to be revised to take into account heritage trees, power poles, and road elements. Ultimately the sidewalk remained next to the street and just expanded from 5 to 7 feet because of conditions on the ground. Coan assumed a similar dynamic would be in play with these ASMP changes.

Send comments/questions to asmp@austintexas.gov

Hannes Mandel of the transportation committee gave a quick update on I-35. TxDOT was holding a meeting the following week and revealing updates to its plans.
The City of Austin is taking public comment for the cap and stitch project. Their framework is mostly focused on the downtown area, so it would be important for us to comment and ask for additional caps and stitches in our area.
The transportation committee is still planning to invite both TxDOT and Project Connect reps to come to meeting and present/discuss together about I-35.

Bradley Price, HNA’s Leeaison with Lee Elementary, introduced himself. His sons went to Lee and now his grandchildren attend. He said that a bike lane on Harris would help the many kids who ride bikes to school – the Lee principal encourages people to take alternative modes of transportation. Bradley helps with the chicken coop at Lee and runs the Styrofoam recycling project (the blue bin) – he takes full loads to the Recycle and Reuse facility, where it’s turned into a liquid that can be turned into more plastic on site.

Guest presentation: Michelle Myles, director of the Office of Violence Prevention, spoke about her team’s work. Ms. Myles has two degrees in psychology and training to work with people with severe mental illness. She has worked in drug treatment centers and with the homeless population in Austin including at supportive housing locations. She previously worked for the Homeless Strategy division, on projects including the response to encampments around the ARCH in 2019 before the pandemic, and the city’s efforts to provide food and information to people experiencing homelessness during the early days of the pandemic.

The Office of Violence Prevention aims to create safety for every Austinite to thrive. It takes a public health approach to violence, with an equity focus. A public health approach looks further upstream and asks, what do communities with no violence have in common (food, shelter, jobs, community support, relationships with friends and neighbors)? And where are the inflection points between that situation and the opposite, which is crisis response/police involvement? The office is trying to work further upstream and provide support to communities to reduce the likelihood they’ll need police response.

Origin: In 2019 the Gun Safety Taskforce suggested the need for an OVP. The Reimagining Public Safety process also called for an OVP. Council Member Alison Alter really championed it. The office was established early 2020, initially funded with $1.9m in FY21 reallocated from APD, and Ms. Myles was hired June 7, 2021.

The OVP’s value proposition: choose interventions with impact and hold ourselves accountable. The goal is to make health, peace and prosperity accessible to all Austinites. Build trust between community and the city/OVP. Interventions will be data informed and OVP will be transparent about showing results. OVP wants to partner with community orgs and other city departments and government agencies. The OVP will use evidence-based practices (that have been shown to work elsewhere) but tailor them for local Austin conditions. Technical advisors who are national leaders are helping the office build its plans. Ms. Myles also noted that the word “violent” can be used to stigmatize communities and populations and cause further harm.

Focus for 2022: The office became fully staffed in December with three FT permanent staff plus some temps. It hired Dr. Chico Tillman (a violence prevention expert based in Chicago) to identify hotspots with the highest incidence of violent crime. Community-led interventions will be targeted in those areas.
The National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform and Cities United are other organizations supporting OVP. Austin is among 16 cities selected by the Biden administration to work on community violence intervention, and through this initiative technical advisors have been assigned to Austin.

Programs in development:

  • Limiting impact of firearms. Lock Arms for Life is a safe gun storage awareness campaign and gun lock distribution. This will launch in March.
  • Firearms surrender protocol – relates to the nexus between domestic violence and gun violence. Goal is to establish a protocol for surrendering firearms (there isn’t one right now). Also to give the person who is causing harm the resources they need to stabilize.
  • Investing in youth: school-based programs for kids experiencing behavioral disturbances; art projects in communities impacted by violence, to build social cohesion among kids from Latinx and African diaspora communities
  • Community violence prevention intervention: connected with Dr. Tillman, in high-risk areas
  • Trauma recovery centers: these offer psychotherapy, case management, assistance applying for victim services dollars, legal assistance, hosing assistance; these are put in communities most impacted by violence. Texas doesn’t have these yet. There are 39 across the country.
    Community rooted mini grants: to invest in community organizations doing violence prevention/healing work; proposals open in March.
  • Community violence interruption initiative: projects with Dr. Tillman and the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform. These look at violence as a public health issue and work with people who have witnessed violence or have experience with the criminal justice system.
  • Address Your Stress campaign: to raise collective awareness of how stress impacts behavior; the pandemic and all its side effects have raised ambient stress levels across the board, making it more difficult for people to control impulses

More information: https://austintexas.gov/ovp

Question: If people in the neighborhood own firearms, what should they do to create a safer environment?
Answer: Secure your firearm. A gun lock secures it (from children, accidental shootings, etc.) but also can interrupt impulsive behavior. see lockarmsforlife.org for free gun locks.

Question: How can we be an ally or receptive to the work of your office?
Answer: Have compassion for yourself and others. Be more in tune with the ways we create small harm to our selves and others. Realize systemic racism and structural problems continue to influence our world today, but we have the ability to create new things. Understand and have compassion for what happened before and also be open to opportunities to change.

Question: Where is the dashboard you mentioned (regarding local violence data)?
Answer: It doesn’t exist yet but will be on the OVP website. We’re meeting with other cities and figuring out what data to collect and how to display it. We don’t want this process to further stigmatize communities. The hotspots we’ve identified include Rundberg, St. John, Dove Springs, Downtown. There are backstories that influence people’s behavior including institutional racism, generational trauma and extreme stress.

The meeting adjourned about 8:33 pm.




HNA Meeting Minutes for December 8, 2021

HNA regular meeting, December 8, 2021

President Coan Dillahunty called the meeting to order at 7:03 pm.

Coan summarized the online meeting the Parks and Recreation Department led on December 2 about the Hancock Golf Course. The course has made more than a $70K profit in 2021, which the department surmises is due to people’s activities changing during the pandemic and increased interest in golf across the board. The 2022 fiscal year is also off to a good start. PARD began by recapping the process it’s gone through; the focus on Hancock Golf Course began with a revenue shortfall and the city putting forward the idea of a concession agreement to bring in more money. Most recently PARD had said it would reevaluate its options after analyzing 2021 revenue. Now that those numbers are in, PARD has decided to continue running the course as it is, without a concession agreement. PARD wants to enhance the hybrid model and partner with other nongolf uses in the space. There are still challenges with equipment needs and safety corridors and a continued emphasis on financial solvency. There was some discussion at the meeting about concerns about the methodology of the survey PARD distributed about the future of the space. Timeline going forward: PARD plans to provide a memo to council, likely in January, about revenue improvement for the golf division and Hancock in particular, and include ideas about shared use.

The Parks committee did not have any updates at this time.

Officer nominations: Coan explained that our bylaws state that nominations need to be made 30 days in advance of the January meeting. As we did last year, we can take nominations via groups.io. If you’re interested in serving, you can volunteer/nominate yourself, or have someone nominate you by December 19. If folks are interested in meeting to talk about the experience of being an officer, we could hold an ‘open house’ at Jo’s during happy hour.

Due to increasing work and family obligations, Coan is not running for a second term. For similar reasons Robyn Ross is not running for a second term as secretary, but she will continue running the newsletter. Robyn encouraged people not to assume they’re not qualified to run for office simply because they haven’t been involved in a committee before.

Coan moved to adopt the minutes from the September 15 meeting, Hugh Bender seconded, and his dogs thirded the motion. The group voted to adopt the minutes.

Denise Cavanaugh, recreation programs specialist from the Hancock Recreation Center, gave an update on the Rec Center. She has worked with the city six years and oversees after-school programs, toddler programs, day camps and summer programs, and special events like the candlelight trail on the golf course. The Rec Center is not doing the trail this year but instead will host a virtual gingerbread-house-building contest (the Rec Center provides the kits). The Rec Center is also hosting virtual storytime with Mrs. Claus at 11 am on Saturday, Dec. 18 on Zoom. Staff will also be at this Saturday’s art fair at Fresh Plus.

Ms. Cavanaugh would like Hancock neighbors age 50 and older to complete a survey about programs they’d like to see at the Rec Center. Staff are planning to expand the number of programs for this age group. The survey is at this link:

Coan asked when we might be able to meet at the Rec Center again, and Ms. Cavanaugh said they’re hoping in 2022. She shared her email address: Denise.Cavanaugh@austintexas.gov

The Transportation Committee gave an update about I-35.
Hannes Mandel explained that the committee submitted the statement HNA voted to adopt in September to TxDOT. In mid-October we received a response that just said, “We received your input.” TxDOT held another public meeting in September but didn’t offer new information.

Hannes said he hopes there has been progress between the city and TxDOT as council members have become more outspoken on the issue of I-35.
He shared information about an upcoming virtual meeting (visit this page any time between December 15 and January 15): austintexas.gov/atxcapstitch
The cap-and-stitch plan is good for downtown, but we would like to see those efforts in our area too.

Next steps: We plan to invite representatives from TxDOT and Project Connect to present in January or, if that’s too soon, perhaps at a special meeting in February or at our March meeting. The idea is to get past the standard TxDOT presentation and have these two experts talk to one another about TxDOT incorporating (or, thus far, not incorporating) Project Connect ridership projections into its model. Having both of them in the room at the same time would increase the chance of actually getting answers. To do this successfully, we will need to determine the best possible questions to ask them. Hannes will share a few ideas via groups.io in the next couple weeks. Some other ways to approach the argument are by scrutinizing TxDOT’s logic about the amount of local traffic on I-35 and its refusal to consider sending some traffic to SH 130, and to scrutinize TxDOT’s approach to traffic modeling, which has produced some inaccurate results in the past.

Project Connect: At this point, most meetings are about the Orange and Blue lines that are not in our immediate neighborhood. Hannes encouraged people to continue to be involved. Right now PC is holding meetings about the design of stations along the Drag. At some point the Gold Line (on Red River) will be part of the conversation.

Kitten Holloway said that we first need to get TxDOT and Project Connect to agree to attend a meeting, and then the task will be to develop specific and structured questions so we don’t get same canned responses we’ve gotten before. If you have questions, ask via groups.io “re: transportation committee.” Kitten said that her team could use some help figuring out how to structure these questions – if you would like to help with this project, please post to groups.io and we’ll get in touch.

David Guarino asked whether anyone has asked the US Department of Transportation about its position on I-35. Hannes said that in the past, Brendan Wittstruck (the leader of the North Central I-35 Neighborhood Coalition) has been skeptical that USDOT would intervene. It has intervened in the proposed expansion of I-45 in Houston, but the conditions are a bit different. But we should investigate this; the idea of removing highways instead of adding them is gaining traction nationally.

Leila Levinson announced that the art fair would be held Saturday. It’s officially called the Hyde Park Art Fair because it’s physically in that neighborhood, but it’s for both neighborhoods and has been organized by Leila L and Mary Trahanovsky, both HNA members. The fair will have 34 booths with 31 artists (including David Guarino), mostly from Hyde Park and Hancock, and a literary table.

Hugh Bender reported on a zoning issue pertaining to parcels of land on the frontage road north of Concordia. It has resurfaced after coming before the Zoning Committee in the past. The Zoning Committee, then consisting of Hugh, Bart Whatley, Linda Guerrero and Carolyn Palaima, met with the developer over six months, researched the issue, and last August brought it before HNA. Members voted that we would support a height of 90 feet, not 120 as requested, and we wanted to see firm commitments to including affordable housing since the current PUD was written so poorly that builders can get around complying with affordable housing requirements. HNA also asked for conditions regarding the use of reflective glass; parkland; and green buffering with the neighborhood, with the additional height. There’s been no news since then, and the Planning and Zoning Commission and Austin Water rejected the height increase. The developer is still requesting the additional height and offering nothing in return – this will be considered at the Planning Commission on December 14, which Hugh said earned a strong ‘no’ vote from him personally. Coan will relay the previous HNA resolution to the commission.

Proposal to increase HNA dues:
HNA Secretary and newsletter editor Robyn Ross explained that our newsletter is designed, printed and mailed by a company called Neighborhood News. NN charges $250/issue, or $1500/year for six issues. Paper and postage costs have been increasing, but our current contract goes through May 2022. Our current dues of $5/household are not sufficient to cover this cost. This year we dipped into our savings to support the newsletter, but a sustainable model would be better going forward.

Therefore, the following changes are recommended:
Charge dues per member, not per household, which also facilitates easier recordkeeping: one person, one membership fee, one vote.
Charge $7/person.
We currently have about 250 members. If we retained this membership, $7/person would generate $1750, more than enough to cover the newsletter. If we went this route, most households would pay $14 rather than $5. However, we are not limited to 250 members – we can encourage others to join, which is good for a number of reasons.
Robyn said that similar neighborhood associations charge a bit more than we do (and we haven’t raised dues in at least 10, maybe 20, years).

A motion was made to raise dues to $7/person and passed unanimously.

Robyn reminded people to contribute their stories about Little Free Libraries and about Lee Elementary for the January newsletter.

Coan adjourned the meeting.




Syndicate content