To the chagrin of environmentalists and taxing authorities alike, Austin has many concrete lots. Lots that used to have a structure on it but are now vacant. Like parking lots, vacant lots that have the appearance of being abandoned are one of the more invasive forms of urban blight. In San Francisco, CMG Landscape Architects have been found a nifty way to improve the visual landscape and help remove thermal hotspots. Inspired by the vegetation that begins to grow in the cracks and along the fringes of concrete, the “Crack Garden” (they really could have picked a better name) harnesses plant growth in harsh urban environments.
There is a lot on the corner of E 5th and San Jacinto, bound by chain link fence, that is the result of a fire years ago. The owner doesn’t even use it for parking. The owner should consider the social benefits of allowing a group to come in and manage a project like this until he is ready to develop the lot. The City of Austin should encourage and property owners should embrace grassroots and affordable improvements to the urban landscape. I imagine we would have plenty of volunteers ready to lend a hand.