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lost creek (11)

by Adam Hammons, Tuesday, September 26th 2017, CBS Austin (KEYE)

"A West Austin neighborhood is fighting to slow down traffic on their own street, and they’re working on their own to get the city’s attention.

There is just one street to get in and out of the Lost Creek neighborhood. Lost Creek Boulevard spans from Loop 360 to Barton Creek Blvd. Homeowners say that street has become dangerous.

“Now we have turned into something akin to a highway,” homeowner Sandy Kerr said.

Kerr lives off Lost Creek, and says speed has become a major problem over the years. Years ago, a teenager rolled over and crashed on the edge of her yard. One teen was killed.
That crash is why she planted a palm tree in the spot where the car went into the yard.

“When you see someone die in your front yard, it makes you creative,” Kerr said. “I just didn’t want to have that happen again.”

Recently, phone apps have brought even more cars on the street. That’s because at times the road can be used as a cut-through to get around traffic on Bee Cave or Loop 360.
That traffic doesn’t include just cars.

“These are vehicles that have no business in a neighborhood,” Kerr said.
Commercial trucks also rumble through the neighborhood. Kerr said they shake her house and she’s seen several 18 wheelers she believes have no business with homeowners in the area.

“I think it’s a big issue, I think it’s a big safety issue for the neighborhood,” Paul Schumann with the Lost Creek Civic Organization said.
Schumann has been working with the City of Austin on ways to slow down traffic. The Transportation Department said it’s been talking with homeowners and is working on a speed mitigation solution.

Schumann also wants to point out how big of a problem is trucks going through the neighborhood. That’s why he’s asked all homeowners to help out.
“I sort of enlisted the neighborhood,” Schumann said.

He’s asked everyone to report if they see a commercial truck on Lost Creek Boulevard. If any look like they have no business in the area, then homeowners can go online, fill out a couple questions and even submit a picture.

Schumann said he’s doing this partly because he doesn’t think the city is going fast enough.

“Trying to get their focus on it is always an issue,” Schumann said.

“We’re hoping that this will give them an incentive to show that we’re really interested in it and here’s what we’ve observed maybe we can convince them to do the study legitimately,” Schumann said.

Schumann would like a sign installed that says no truck traffic.

ATD says the speed mitigation program does not include ways to stop truck traffic. They’re just looking at installing speed bumps or other ways to slow traffic.
Kerr said she will help count truck traffic. She says it adds to a problem she knows all too well.

“If it happened just once it might be a freak accident, but if it has happened time after time after time, then something needs to be done,” Kerr said."

http://cbsaustin.com/news/local/west-austin-neighborhood-fighting-back-to-stop-cut-through-traffic

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Lost Creek Wildfire Simulation

Meeting Announcement

Date: October 5, 2017

Time: 7 pm 

Where: Lost Creek Limited District Building, 1305 Quaker Ridge, Austin, TX 78746

Topic:  Wildfire Simulation with a Simtable,  Logan Scherschel, WUI Specialist, Texas A&M Forest Service

To join the LCCO web site, click here.

New Tech to Help AFD Prepare for Future Wildfires
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by Jorge Rodas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Despite the recent rain, most of west Austin is just a notch below being listed as a very high risk of wildfires.

“In a summer like this summer, the wildfire risk is still high,” said Keri Hines of Texas A&M Forest Service.

Hines’ agency has several Simtables, a high tech tool that allows them to map out wildfire simulations and develop strategies to fight them. With a large sand box and interactive projector overhead, the table simulates the area’s landscape using real-world data.

“The Simtable has really changed the game for training and for mitigation,” she said.

You can adjust wind direction and speed, then ignite a simulated fire. Simtable then projects an image of the fire spreading. Fire agencies use that simulation to create strategies for battling wildfires or look at previous wildfires to review how departments attacked the flames.
“The way that it can project wildfires and their progression just really drives home why we should be prepared,” said Hines.

The Austin City Council recently approved using grant money to purchase Simtable for the Austin Fire Department, but there is no clear timeline for exactly when the department will get it.

To view video, click here.

Simtable Wildfire Simulation Video from Texas A&M Forest Service
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Simtable’s unique training uses interactive agent-based fire modeling, bringing sand table exercises to life in your own high risk areas allowing mitigation and fuels planning in a truly interactive experience.

Texas A&M Video

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Lost Creek Blvd.: Security and Safety

Meeting Announcement

Date: August 3, 2017

Time: 7 pm 

Where: Lost Creek Limited District Building, 1305 Quaker Ridge, Austin, TX 78746

Topics:  Lost Creek Blvd.: Security & Safety - Mario Porras, Traffic Calming Program, Anna Martin, Area Engineer for Lost Creek, and Laura Dierenfield, Active Transportation and Street Design Division

Other topics to be discussed are: Civic Priorities Survey, Financial Report, Marshall Tract, CodeNEXT and upcoming programs.

To join the LCCO web site, click here.

Lost Creek Blvd.

In the recent survey of civic priorities, respondents most mentioned topic not covered by existing LCCO plans was Safety & Security. Lost Creek Blvd. was cited as a specific concern.

The last traffic data I have on Lost Creek Blvd. was taken in the summer of 2013, not during the school year when traffic is considerably heavier.  Traffic count and speed was measured at two points along the boulevard - Mauna Kea and between Arronimink and Wilson Heights - over a 24 hour period. At Arronimink and Wilson Heights, 26% of the daily traffic of 8,573 exceeded 35 mph, and at Mauna Kea, 14% of the daily traffic of 2,335 exceeded 35 mph (3 cars were clocked at speeds between 65 and 70 mph).

The comparison of average annual traffic counts for intersections with Loop 360 is shown in the graphic below. In 2005, Lost Creek Blvd. has the  second highest traffic at the intersection.

Residents of Lost Creek feel that the traffic on the boulevard is much higher than indicated by these old data, and that people are driving faster. 

The advent of GPS enabled driving assistants is directing more traffic through Lost Creek. The boulevard was never intended to be a thoroughfare.  This behavior is clearly observable.

Not only is the through traffic composed of cars, but delivery and repair  trucks as well. I personally have observed two instances of tanker trucks carrying flammable liquids through the neighborhood.

There are two EISD elementary schools across Loop 360 from the boulevard. Creating a safe passage for kids is a concern of residents as well.  Sidewalks are not completed over Loop 360 and to the schools, and the boulevard does not have a complete set of sidewalks along it on both sides.

To complicate matters, the boulevard is listed as one of Austin's bicycle paths (map below). The boulevard is not marked for bicycles, nor is parking defined.

At the intersection of Lost Creek Blvd. and Barton Creek, there are additional problems. This area has become an unofficial access to Austin's Barton Creek Wilderness Area. The low water bridge is the only access for EMS, police and firefighters vehicles. The City does not own any land around this unofficial access point. The land is owned by individuals and the Lost Creek Limited District. Parking limits access to the trails by emergency vehicles, creates a nuisance for neighbors and facilitates poor behavior by visitors.

In case of a wildfire threatening Lost Creek, the boulevard is the primary way for evacuation. And, it is the only way for emergency vehicles to serve Lost Creek.

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Austin Bicycle Map
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New Smart Phone App for LCCO
The Lost Creek Civic Organization (LCCO) has an app for smart phones. This app makes it easy for you to stay aware of the external issues affecting Lost Creek. The app provides listings of new entries in the LCCO web site (www.lostcreekcivicorganization.org) in six categories - News (blog), CodeNEXT, Marshall Tract, Education, Loop 360, Wildfire and Imagine Austin. It also provides news from the Austin Police and Fire Departments, as well as a calendar of events in Lost Creek. I ask that all Lost Creek non-profit, non-political organizations provide me with their meeting schedules for placement on the calendar. You can access this app on your smart phone through this web address or use of the QR Code shown below:  http://theapp.mobi/lcco9 I'm also trying a Chat feature that allows users online to chat with one another. Let me know if this is useful to you.
QR Code for Smart Phone App
LCCO Is Funded by Contributions
LCCO does not charge membership fees. It is an all volunteer organization with funding of operational expenses through donations. Please click button below to contribute any amount you wish.

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Survey of Lost Creek Civic Priorities

The Lost Creek Civic Organization (LCCO) is conducting a survey of Lost Creek residents to help establish priorities of civic issues. The survey is in two parts - civic issues for Lost Creek and civic issues for the city that Lost Creek should be involved in. Some topics are suggested in each category for you register your view of its importance and additional spaces are provided for you to write in issues that you think should be a priority.

You may access the survey at this link.

The LCCO is a volunteer based organization with a minimal budget. The number of civic issues facing lost Creek and the city are far more numerous than the organization can handle. Hence, we have to prioritize. If there is an issue you'd like to work on, please contact me.

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Lost Creek Civic Organization

2017 Priority Programs

The following programs will be focused on by the LCCO in 2017. Other issues will certainly surface and require responses.

Wildfire Adapted Community

A fire adapted community is defined by the United States Forest Service as "a knowledgeable and engaged community in which the awareness and actions of residents regarding infrastructure, buildings, landscaping, and the surrounding ecosystem lessens the need for extensive protection actions and enables the community to safely accept fire as a part of the surrounding landscape." The National Wildfire Coordinating Group definition, which was developed approved by the Wildland Urban Interface Mitigation Committee, is "A human community consisting of informed and prepared citizens collaboratively planning and taking action to safely co-exist with wildland fire." See A Fire Adapted Community at http://tinyurl.com/zf9f8es for more information.

Las Cimas – Westbank 360 Corridor

High density centers are forming in suburbs. For example the area along 360 between Bee Cave (2244) and Westbank. It has multiple neighborhoods, about 1 million square feet of office space, 3 schools, a fire station, a shopping center, and an athletic/community center. It also incorporates areas of Austin, Westlake and Travis County.

Within this type of center, we need local area transit.

For the section of Loop 360 between Las Cimas Drive and Westbank Drive that all the neighborhoods and businesses on this section, together with EISD, City of Westlake Hills, and Travis County be involved in conceptual design of the improvements to Loop 360.

The improvements should be designed to increase mobility within the corridor and connect the corridor to other areas of the city. Walkability should be a high priority.

Marshall Ranch Project

For the third time, Lost Creek is going to have to engage with a developer and the City of Austin over the Marshall Ranch property on Lost Creek Blvd. Near the entrance to Lost Creek, the tract is zoned for single family housing and will have to be rezoned if it used for any other purpose. The first developer was Cousins Properties. The development failed after neighborhood and some city council members opposition, and the property owners failed to extend the contract to Cousins. The second was a team led by the land owner, Dan Marshall. Their proposed development was acceptable to many residents of Lost Creek. Dan and his sister have instead sold the property to Riverside Resources for development. The plans for their development are currently unknown.

This 38 acre tract of land, the last piece of the Marshall Ranch, has historical significance and has a historical cemetery. It is difficult to develop because the land has steep slopes and has three zoning overlays with severe restrictions – Loop 360 Hill Country Roadway, Barton Springs Zone and Eanes Creek Watershed. In addition, Lost Creek is sensitive to its development because it is bounded on two sides by residential and was never intended for any other use. The peak of the land is the highest point in Lost Creek. Residents fear the development's impact on their homes value, their quality of life, their privacy, and the already congested traffic. There are also concerns about the impact of the new 10+1 city council structure and the new urbanism concepts embedded in CodeNEXT, the new land development code, on the development of land like the Marshall Ranch.

Neighborhood Unity

Lost Creek is a collection of neighborhoods. There are 19 sets of deed restrictions. This has prevented the formation of a homeowners association. Lost Creek has six different nonpolitical organizations:

For Lost Creek to have a homeowner's association(s), all the different deed restrictions would have to merged into one, or 19 different homeowner's associations could be formed. None of the organizations can truly claim to represent Lost Creek on all issues. As result, we lack political, legal and financial power.

TxDOT Billboards on Loop 360

The Texas Transportation Commission should rescind permission for TxDOT to place so called Logo Signs on Loop 360 (actually billboards advertising mostly fast food restaurants) and consider adopting a rule for TxDOT to follow on these logo signs where they are in conflict with local signage laws, especially along designated scenic roadways in the Cities of Austin, West Lake Hills and Rollingwood. Loop 360 is a designated scenic roadway by the City of Austin.

The results1 of the petition to remove the signs to date are:

  • 1,080 signatures

  • 142 different neighborhoods

  • 404 comments (19 pages of single spaced text)

In addition resolutions asking that the signs be removed were passed by:

  • Cities of West Lake Hills and Rollingwood

  • Neighborhood Organizations - Rob Roy HOA, Lost Creek Civic Organization, Barton Creek North Property Owners Association, Davenport Rim Condominium Association, Davenport Ranch Patio Home Owners Association

Moreover, several newspaper articles and a TV new's story have discussed the issue. Social media coverage has appeared on Facebook and a blog.

CodeNEXT

"CodeNEXT" is the name given by the City of Austin to the ongoing total rewrite of the City's land use and building rules, known as the Land Development Code. It will rezone every parcel of land in the city, including allowing uses not previously allowed in many neighborhoods. It will address what can be built, where it can be built, how much can be built, and how it can be used. Our concern, which should be yours, is that the new code not change what Mayor Adler calls the soul and spirit of Austin.

The initial draft was released January 30th. The City staff and consultants have conducted three years of public meetings with individuals and have accepted position papers from organized groups; however, the process did not result in meaningful engagement with neighborhoods or their representatives.

The new code will give new zoning designations to all of Austin, but just where these new zones will be applied is still unknown. Draft zoning maps won't be released until April 18th. There is no process yet for neighborhood input into the mapping process.

In addition to changing the zoning rules, the new code will address a variety of other important rules, such as limits on impervious cover, drainage, landscaping, and tree protection, all of which could have dramatic effects on the safety and quality of life in your neighborhood.

The Planning Department calls the new code "Draft 1". It will be considered first by the Planning Commission and the Zoning and Platting Commission, and there will be citizen comment and input pathways before the Council takes it up later this year. We need to use them to communicate our concerns.

Draft 1 creates two different zoning systems. One creates Transect Zones, and the other creates Non-Transect Zones. There will no longer be SF2 or SF3 lots. Transect lots will have design criteria focusing on the form of buildings. This is called "form-based zoning". The theory is that what a building looks like is more important than what it is used for. Non-Transect lots will not be subject to the design criteria. Both types of zoning will have specific use tables that apply to specific categories.

When the maps are released, it is likely that the suburban lots that are not now "walkable" will have Non-Transect Zoning. Apparently, Draft 1 does not define "walkable" but it is a criteria that the mapping teams will apply in deciding how to zone your property. Except for lots having at least 10,000 square feet, Draft 1 is calling for auxiliary dwelling units to be approved uses in all Non-Transect zones. Some Non-Transect zones will allow duplexes. Today's SF2 zoning allows neither duplexes nor auxiliary dwelling units. SF3 zoning allows both. The closer a neighborhood is to downtown, the greater the chance that it will have Transect zones. If so, allowed uses in some residential zones may include not only duplexes and auxiliary dwelling units, but also cottages, multifamily, and businesses. In all Transect categories, required on-site parking is just one space per dwelling unit.

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Meeting Announcement May 4, 2017

Meeting Announcement

Date: May 4, 2017

Time: 7 pm 

Where: Lost Creek Limited District Building, 1305 Quaker Ridge, Austin, TX 78746

Topics:  EISD Update, Ellen Balthazar, Eanes ISD Trustee  and New Zoning for Lost Creek: Now What Do We Do?, Paul Schumann

Other topics to be discussed are: TxDOT Billboards on Austin Designated Scenic Roadways, 2017 Projects, Austin Firewise Alliance, Tax Appraisals and upcoming programs.

To join the LCCO web site, click here.

Eanes Independent School District Board of Trustees

School board members, elected from and representing their local communities, are entrusted with the responsibility of policy making and promoting educational excellence for their local school district. In Texas, school board members receive no compensation except the satisfaction derived from rendering an important public service.

School districts, governed by locally elected school boards, are political subdivisions carrying out a state function. The Eanes ISD Board of Trustees, like many Texas school boards, is composed of seven members serving three-year staggered terms so that the entire board is never up for election at the same time.

Because a school board is a governmental body, it can take action only by a majority vote at a legally called public meeting.

New Zoning for Lost Creek
The new zonning map for Lost Creek has been released for review and comment. Now that we know what's been proposed for us, what does it mean and what do we do about it if we don't agree with it?
New Smart Phone App for LCCO
The Lost Creek Civic Organization (LCCO) has an app for smart phones. This app makes it easy for you to stay aware of the external issues affecting Lost Creek. The app provides listings of new entries in the LCCO web site (www.lostcreekcivicorganization.org) in six categories - News (blog), CodeNEXT, Marshall Tract, Education, Loop 360, Wildfire and Imagine Austin. It also provides news from the Austin Police and Fire Departments, as well as a calendar of events in Lost Creek. I ask that all Lost Creek non-profit, non-political organizations provide me with their meeting schedules for placement on the calendar. You can access this app on your smart phone through this web address or use of the QR Code shown below:  http://theapp.mobi/lcco9 I'm also trying a Chat feature that allows users online to chat with one another. Let me know if this is useful to you.
QR Code for Smart Phone App
LCCO Is Funded by Contributions
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LCCO does not charge membership fees. It is an all volunteer organization with funding of operational expenses through donations. Please click button below to contribute any amount you wish.

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Installation of Fiber Optic Cable on the Hilltop

Background

Towards the end of September, we were notified by AT&T that they were going to install fiber optic cable in our neighborhood on the Hilltop. We were first told that they would tunnel under everything down the whole block and would have very little disruption. That changed to trenching and when construction began, complaints began to surface. They trenched behind the back yards of houses on the east side of Wilson Heights and through the backyards on the east side of Thaddeus Cove, and through the front yards of homes on the west side of Thaddeus Cove. The sidewalks are on the east side of both Thaddeus Cove and Wilson Heights. The impacts of the trenching and drilling operations were dramatic. They had to drill under driveways and some lawns. They broke sewer pipes, water pipes and at least one gas line plus an unknown number of lawn irrigation pipes, some of which are still not fixed. They also damaged fences, gardens and trees

The photos and video shown below indicate the extent of disruption. The photos were taken by Barbara Schumann and the video by Jim Lux.

Around mid October, I began investigating to find out how this process works. I started first with the county, city and MUD. I was trying to find out who had granted the permit for the construction. No one knew anything about the subject and the person at county warned, “We would say that a County Development Permit or Utility Permit is required. ATT (and many, many other public utilizes) would argue that they do not need permits from us. It's going to take a law suit or a change in State Law to clarify that.” After then contacting Council Member Troxclair's office, I found that the city did indeed issue a permit for the construction in July 2015.

What I Know

The following is my best knowledge to date:

  1. The PUC granted a franchise to AT&T

    1. “AT&T obtained a cable/video franchise from the Public Utility Commission. Other providers who have a state cable franchise are Google Fiber, Grande Communications and Time Warner Cable. As of 2005, cities no longer have any role in the process and I don’t believe the PUC engages with the public.” Telecommunications & Regulatory Affairs, City of Austin

    2. Certificates of Franchise Authority are granted in accordance with Substantive Rule § 28.6.” PUC

  2. Permits for access to the easement for Lost Creek are issued by the city.

    1. The city did grant a permit to install the fiber optic cable on The Hilltop in Lost Creek. That permit is GP-2015-0198.ATT granted on July 22, 2015.

    2. “Utility easements are also granted for telecommunications providers so yes, all providers have access to those easements where they have rights granted to them.” Telecommunications & Regulatory Affairs, City of Austin

  3. There was ongoing views by the city of the construction process.

  4. There are still some unresolved issues.

  5. The contact names of people I contacted, many of whom are associated with this project, are:

    1. AT&T

      • Greg Pilz, Senior Marketing Manager, U-verse Solutions, Giga Power, AT&T Services Inc., 9505 Arboretum Blvd., Austin, TC 78759

      • Phillip Zuniga – GigaPower Construction Area Manager, pz9881@att.com

      • Colin Cook – General Manager, NX Utilities, 10840 FM 812, Del Valle, TX 78617, (713)-828-4749, ccook@nxutilities.com

    2. City of Austin

      • Ellen Troxclair, Council Member, District 8, 301 W. Willie Nelson Blvd, Austin, Texas 78701, (512)978-2108, ellen.troxclair@austintexas.gov

      • Rondella M. Hawkins, Officer, Telecommunications & Regulatory Affairs, City of Austin, 512-974-2422, 512.217-0783, Rondella.Hawkins@austintexas.gov

      • O.B. McKown, General Permits, Development Services Department, OB.McKown@austintexas.gov

      • Ruben Cantu, Division Manager, Inspections for excavations in the ROW, Development Services, Ruben.Cantu@austintexas.gov

      • Nick Miranda III, City of Austin, Lead Environmental Inspection Specialist Senior - General Permits Program, Development Services Department - Land Use & Review, 505 Barton Springs Rd 4th Floor, Austin, TX 78704, Office (512) 974-1852, Cell (512) 920-7674, Nick.Miranda@AustinTexas.Gov

      • Patrick Cadet, Construction Inspector, Utility Cut Inspections, Development Services Department, 512.563.5577, patrick.cadet@austintexas.gov

    3. Travis County

      • Bob Moore, The Office of Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, Prct. #3, 700 Lavaca, Suite 2.400, Austin Texas 78701, 512-854-9387, Bob.Moore@traviscountytx.gov

      • Stacey Scheffel, CFM, Permits Program Manager, Floodplain Administrator, OSSF Designated Representative OS0011143, Travis County TNR- Development Services, 512-854-7565, stacey.scheffel@traviscountytx.gov

    4. Texas (PUC)

Unanswered Questions

There are still several unanswered questions relative to this process:

  1. What's the process for allowing this type of invasive construction in a neighborhood?

  2. Why were we not involved?

  3. Why were we at least not notified by the city?

  4. What's AT&T's plans for the completion of this project throughout Lost Creek?

  5. How will the City guarantee the quality of the construction process?

  6. Will AT&T notify us before they start the next phase of construction? I have asked for their plans but would not disclose them. I then asked to be notified before they begin the next steps.

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Residents Rally in Anticipation of Annexation

Rachel Rice, Westlake Picayune, September 10, 2015

The Lost Creek Civic Organization assembled for their first official meeting Sept. 3, making it their first order of business to educate themselves on how to wrangle with the city of Austin.

In anticipation of the impending annexation of Lost Creek, approximately 20 residents assembled for the LCCO meeting led by Paul Schumann. As their guest speaker, they brought Jeff Jack, an architect with a longtime history in dealings with the city from both sides of the dais.

Read  more.

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Lost Creek Civic Organization Meeting 9/03/15

There were 28 people in attendance and Jeff Jack gave an outstanding introductory presentation of the planning and zoning issues facing Austin and us as we are annexed into the City in December 2015. The minutes of the meeting are here.

Below is an outline presentation for the meeting.

Two videos were included the in the presentation. These are shown below:

Below are a few pictures taken by Nancy Naeve:

Paul Schumann

Jeff Jack

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