Been a crazy day with the hail and everything. Then I started hearing about the new proposals from City Staff on how to handle events and more specifically races in Austin. You can find details of the latest information and stay updated here: http://www.keepaustinrunning.org/forum/topics/city-staff-recommendations-to
In case you’re looking for a form letter I put one together 🙂
Where to submit: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/council/groupemail.htm
Subject: In support of races and events in Austin and against City Staff recommendations
Dear City Council Members and Mayor,
I’d like express my support for races and events in Austin, downtown and throughout the city. I’d also like to voice my disapproval at the current recommendations you are considering for the following reasons:
1. The current plans ignore some key proposals from the downtown special events task force.
2. The current plans lead to a further increase in the cost of races. A number of races have already been canceled in the past two years, impacting local charities. The Right of Way Management Office’s interpretation changes of regulations in a manner inconsistent with other cities in the state and country and the current proposal will further compound this issue.
3. The current plans will eliminate a larger number of races in Austin, unless the races are treated as exceptions. This will either eliminate the races or increase the burden in managing this process.
4. The current plans discriminate against moving events by restricting street closures specifically for them even though these be managed to reduce their overall impact relative to fixed events.
5. The city staff has not effectively engaged the community to solicit input and kept it updated on proposals.
I hope you will show support for the events and races that are a large part of the character of Austin and enjoyed by tens of thousands of Austinites and others yearly and not vote to approve the current recommendations for handling events.
Here’s what I ended up sending today in case you want to use any points:
Dear City Council Members and Mayor,
I’ve sent multiple e-mails in the past on special events in Downtown Austin (included below for your reference). I and many others have attended many of the Task force meetings. It was brought to my attention that City Staff will be making recommendations to you tomorrow at 2:00 pm and that these recommendations are different from the task force recommendations, both of which many people have concerns with.
I’ve heard rumors (barricade the night before, races only on holiday weekends etc) about the staff recommendations and am alarmed by the rumors. What’s more significant is the process from the task force, to staff to the public doesn’t seem to be transparent. I and others don’t have any information and have not been kept up to date even with a lot of effort to remain involved.
I’d like to request the following of you:
- To postpone the current plan for an open hearing on this topic on April 2nd. There is not enough time for us to effectively analyze and provide feedback on the final task force proposal and city staff recommendations.
- To share in a public manner the different recommendations as soon as possible so we can share them more broadly.
- To start scheduling open hearings on this topic at the end of April.
I wanted to thank a couple of you, Mike and Brewster specifically, for your direct responses on this subject in the past.
Given we just went through a week of SXSW I’m sure you’ve gotten your fill of positive and negative feedback on downtown events. As much as I wish my drive home was faster last week trying to get through 5th and 6th street I thought the inconvenience was a small price to pay given the benefits of such an event to the city and number of people that take part in the event. This isn’t a simple issue and a proposal that says x# of events on Sat, or Sun doesn’t seem effective. If an event is held when there is little to no traffic and the event organizer can clear the roads before that time why is that treated the same as another event that blocks traffic for 6 hours on a Sunday during a holiday?
I hope you will take a forward looking approach to this issue that accounts for the growth of commerce in the CBD, considers population density, explores ideas on pedestrian only zones, and examines the overall impact of events versus some of the more reactionary and short sighted proposals that have been considered in the past. I’ve attached a spreadsheet that lets you model what you think are the major factors to consdier, weight them and then run actual events through this to see what the outcome would be. This isn’t a final answer but more of a way to ensure we’re consdering the multiple factors by importance and priority and then putting in the right manageble process to manage events and races.