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by Melanie Barden, CBS Austin

"Thousands of property crimes are reported in Austin every year, ranging from home burglaries to car theft. According to APD's latest report, in 2016, more than 33,000 cases were filed with the Austin Police Department, only 13 percent of those were solved.


"It never really stops or goes away," says Sgt. Noel Guerin.


Guerin works with APD's Property Crimes Task Force, he says surveillance footage helps significantly when solving these crimes.


"When you have a video of something that's happened it's an unbiased witness that shows you exactly how it happened," says Guerin.


The Property Crimes Task Force is able to use these images to tell police what to look out for, Guerin claims one case was solved by identifying a dent on a car.


Police say another value of having home surveillance footage is posting the footage on social media, in hopes someone recognizes the criminal."

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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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Speak Up Austin

You're invited to participate in a new Project

We have exciting news: The FY 2017-18 Public Engagement Report is now available online!

Thanks to Austin residents like you, this year we have received community feedback on City services and residents’ budget priorities through a multitude of venues. This feedback is documented in detail in the Public Engagement Report and includes:

  • Results from the 2016 Austin Community Survey,
  • Results from the Budget Priority Survey,
  • Summaries of 17 Boards and Commissions meetings,
  • Complete Austin Budget Simulator 2.0 data for both Citywide and District-Level results, and
  • Public comments from Austin Budget Simulator 2.0 participants.

 

To read the full report, please visit the Budget Engagement webpage atwww.austintexas.gov/budget  

 

There’s still time to provide feedback on next year’s budget. The City Council currently is considering the proposed budget, found at https://www.austintexas.gov/financeonline/finance/financial_docs.cfm?ws=1&pg=1. The public is invited to provide feedback at two upcoming City Council meetings at City Hall:

  • 4 p.m. Aug. 17
  • 4 p.m. Aug. 31

 

Thank you for taking the time to help us create a budget that works for you!

 

Join Us! Austin Budget Simulator 2.0 - Results Now Available in FY 2017-18 Public Engagement Report


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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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Some Thoughts on Affordability

I'm in favor of a data driven definition and analysis of affordable housing. It's clear we have a serious problem when half the households can't afford an average priced home in Austin. Out of curiosity I did an analysis of home sales 79704. I know that this is oversimplifying the issues, but the only real predictors of lower home prices was the age of the home and its size. And, through CodeNEXT and market forces, we are busily destroying the base of "somewhat affordable" homes.

(By the way, one of the tools I used in this analysis was Watson Analytics, a free data analysis tool from IBM. It takes some knowledge to use the tool but makes analytics more broadly accessible.)

I am not in favor of a strong focus on subsidies. To me this does nothing to change the causes of the issue.

I am in favor of exploring new concepts of a home, the use of new technologies to reduce the cost of building a home, the examination of design rules that disproportionately add more cost that societal value, and the permitting of micro homes.

I am in favor of helping the bottom 50% of our households make more money through education, training, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

I am in favor of incentivising the development of enterprises that create jobs suited to the skills and abilities of the lower 50%.

I am in favor of building communities that understand and practice activities that create community wealth.

Attached are copies of my analysis and my comments on the Code Prescription on affordability.

Household%20Affordabilty%20Code%20Prescription.pdf

Analysis%20of%2078704%20Data.pdf

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