South Austin’s public engagement threatened by relocation of land use planning committee meeting place, commissioners say

Deputy City Manager Rodney Gonzalez answered questions from commissioners and board members at a meeting on November 29. (Maggie Quinlan / Community Impact Journal)

City of Austin staff have asked the planning council and land use commissions to move their city hall meetings to a new location, but council and commission members said they thought the new location would block public engagement.

The new City of Austin License and Development Center, designed to streamline the city’s commercial and residential development experience, opened to the public in July. It is located behind the Highland Mall in North Austin.

In October, a memo from the city said the board of directors of planning and land use planning commissions would be moving their meetings to the 5,000-square-foot PDC conference center.

At a special meeting on Nov. 29, several board and commission members said that for residents of South Austin, the commute to the new center could prevent them from attending.

Jim Duncan, former vice chairman of the Zoning and Plating Commission, raised concerns about safety and accessibility, as bus stops are about half a mile from the building and crime is high in the area. region, he said.

Duncan presented images of the 10-mile circular radius around City Hall and the 10-mile radius around PDC, noting that much of southern Austin is cut into the latter radius.

Commissioner Timothy Bray asked how bringing the Adjustment Council and Land Use Commissions to the PDC would streamline processes, as the Council and Commissions also interact with City Council, often at the Hotel de city.

Deputy City Manager Rodney Gonzalez responded to questions from commissioners and board members, saying city staff needed more functional spaces for hybrid meetings that are both in-person and virtually broadcast.

Gonzalez said security will be improved at the PDC and staff will contact Capitol Metro to increase public transportation in that area. He said there had been no directive from city council to require the board of directors and commissions to move to the PDC.

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