With the ongoing pandemic, the normal fare for this blog has been shut down. So we’re branching out into a new kind of content: an interview with Mary Pustejovsky, Board Member of the Red Line Parkway Initiative, former Board Member of AURA, and Someone who Bikes for Transportation and Loves to See Other People Do It Too. This is the first interview I’ve done for the blog and I failed to get my audio equipment working, so the below is from my notes. All apologies to both Mary and my readers for anything I mess up!
For all of you reading this shortly after it’s been posted, no context is necessary. But in case anybody ever goes back and reads this months or years from now, here’s the situation as I write this. Most folks in Austin are working from home on account of the global pandemic COVID-19. Dining areas in bars and restaurants are closed. Yesterday, 18 positive tests for the virus in Austin were added to the 23 existing ones. 2020’s edition of SXSW was cancelled and a large chunk of SXSW, Inc’s workers were laid off. So many other workers are being laid off in Austin and around the country and world that people are starting to ask whether the economic collapse will look more like the Great Recession or the Great Depression. Cap Metro has reported a nearly 50% drop in ridership and has dropped service to mostly Sunday-levels. I could go on and on but suffice it to say the situation isn’t looking good.
Last week I had the privilege of attending an open house for Project Connect, the planning effort to build a high-frequency, high-capacity, fast-running base for Austin’s transit system. Although the in-person open houses for the Orange and Blue lines are over, you can still review the materials and get your feedback heard at the virtual open house. CapMetro didn’t come forward with one fully-baked proposal, but presented a number of choices with tradeoffs: do we go big or go small? Below are my choices and I hope y’all let me know yours!
I may have written about West Campus a time or two before. But this time I come not to praise West Campus, but to bury it — in new developments! On Thursday, October 3, Austin’s City Council will consider the biggest changes to the rules that govern a good chunk of West Campus (known as UNO or the University Neighborhood Overlay) since they were initially passed in 2004. The proposed changes would:
It’s been a while since I last checked in on Cap Metro ridership. CapMetro has released a snazzy performance dashboard, but it didn’t completely visualize the data how I wanted it to so I put together a dashboard of my own using CapMetro’s data to help me understand the dynamics affecting bus riders in Austin. I’ve found some continuation of existing stories and some stories that are completely new.
Last post, I talked about physical alternatives that would let us #parktheplinth. Or in normal terms, ways to build downtown towers that don’t have giant parking plinths. Before that, I also discussed the regulatory reasons why large parking plinths are common downtown, but much less so in West Campus. So, today, let’s combine the two thoughts: what regulations could we have downtown that would encourage people building towers downtown to use some of those alternatives to parking plinths?
Coming up on Thursday, the 2019 version of the Austin City Council will start deliberating on one of the biggest decisions of this year: where to go now that CodeNEXT is dead. City Manager Spencer Cronk asked for direction from City Council on five questions, including how much we should allow “missing middle” housing (think: small multi-unit buildings like triple deckers or four-plexes). This kind of missing middle housing could make a tremendous difference in improving housing in Austin. Here’s six reasons why.
Economic development incentive deals — tax breaks to companies for bringing jobs to a city — have had a pretty bad run of news in Austin and beyond. Amazon’s HQ2 headquarters search earned a mile of negative attention for every inch of excitement even before they gave up on a deal with New York.
In Austin, economic development deals have been controversial for a while.
In an age of polarizing issues, there has been perhaps no issue more polarizing than the deployment of shared dockless scooters. Any news article or twitter mention of them rapidly fills up with tales of people’s hatred and love for the little rideable devices. The lovers — myself very much included — sometimes (always) like to deflect from the problems with scooters by making detailed thoughtful arguments (snarky memes) about how they’re at least better than cars.
But not today. Scooters are fun, green, dangerous, revolutionary, annoying, fantastic obstacles. The benefits are real and the problems are real. Today I’ll take a look at the downsides — and how we could fix them:Continue reading