To pour, or not to pour… concrete… at 3am.

To pour, or not to pour… concrete… at 3am.

11/7/2014: Yesterday, City Council postponed this item to 11/20/2014 with direction for it to be heard at the Downtown Commission meeting on 11/19/2014.

10/30/2014: There’s a substitute proposed amendment on the draft City Council agenda (currently item #34, as of this update) for 11/6/2014.  This proposed amendment unanimously passed first reading.  It still proposes an expansion of the area where overnight concrete pours would be allowed, and is also proposing, among other things, to have any and all off-peak concrete pouring in the CBD and expanded areas to end at 2am, in most situations. 

10/21/2014: We’ve just been told that, due to stakeholder feedback, the consideration of this proposed amendment has been indefinitely postponed.

At this moment it is difficult to name a residential tower in downtown Austin that is not within earshot of construction.  This is one of those topics that reflects the challenges of managing economic growth.

The Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (DANA) just posted about item #18 on City Council’s draft agenda for October 23rd.

The agenda item in question is in regards expanding the areas allowed for concrete pouring from just the CBD to include the Density Bonus Area (see image below), DMU areas (which would include Seaholm), and the (P) Zoning Districts.

Here’s a map (click on it to enlarge):

map-concrete-pouring-amendment

The amendment also adds what some would call “weak” language regarding noticing requirements.

The proposed amendment has revealed a bit of a fury from downtown residents – many of whom want the night-time pouring stopped altogether (we’ve been told by several sources that no other major city in Texas allows for concrete pours after 8pm).

Then there are residents who want construction to be completed as soon as possible, thus are encouraging the night-time pours.  Some folks on this side of the issue note that ROI is impacted when construction timelines are longer, which could impact things like affordability and the ability to even build some dense developments.  They also cite that day-time traffic would be even further gridlocked if some concrete pours aren’t allowed in the late evenings.

Notably, residents of the Spring Condos and 360 Condos are within proximity of Seaholm’s construction, and will be immediately affected if this amendment passes, and residents of Plaza Lofts (with the newly started construction of Hotel ZaZa) has previously expressed concerns about night-time pours in general.

We see both sides of the issue, (personally, I see the benefits of getting construction over with) and believe that downtown should continue to push for vertical growth.  Of course, I’ve been woken up by early morning concrete pours.  It’s just something we accept as part of growth, but we are watching closely to see how the chips fall at the October 23.

-Amber

About amber gugino

Amber Gugino loves living downtown and has been an active board member of the The Shore Condo Owners Association, Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association and member of the Junior League of Austin. She adores her dog, Blog, and she learns something new about downtown Austin every day.

Comments

  1. avatar Dianne Calvo says:

    Could you please contact me David or Amber.

  2. When I moved downtown, I knew that I would be signing up for street closures and early-to-late construction noise from nearby construction sites. I did not know that I would be signing up for frequent 1 a.m. cement pours that are so loud and bright that I can’t get any sleep despite having black-out shades and wearing ear plugs. In July, there were five 1 a.m. cement pours at the construction site outside my window. Once a month is one thing, but having five sleepless nights in one month is unacceptable.

    Austin City Code Section 9-2-21(B) requires that the city official granting permits for concrete installation during non-peak hour periods determine “that the delivery, finishing, placement, or pouring of concrete during non-peak hour periods is in the interest of public health, safety, or welfare or is justified by urgent necessity.” The ordinance, in Section 9-2-21(D)(3), also requires the applicant to explain “the reason why the work cannot be completed during normal business hours.” I submitted a public information request regarding the permits granted to the construction site next to my building, and the reason that the contractor provided for applications between April and August 2014 was almost always some variation of “too large a volume of concrete.” In some instances, no reason was provided at all. Applications containing this or similar justifications, and the fact that permits are routinely granted on such applications, completely flout the language of the ordinance, which was almost certainly enacted to protect nearby residents. The ordinance needs to be strengthened, not weakened, and residents who would be subject to the proposed expanded area need to be made aware of the farce suggested by the ordinance’s language that permits for early morning pours are only granted “in the interest or public health, safety, or welfare or is justified by urgent necessity.”

    • amber gugino says:

      FYI – There’s a NEW proposed amendment on the draft City Council agenda (currently item #34, as of this update) for 11/6/2014. This one is still proposing an expansion of the area, and is also proposing, among other things, to have any and all off-peak concrete pouring in the CBD and expanded areas to end at 2am (when the bars also close). (see update at top of blog for links to documentation, etc).

      • Interesting. The revision limiting off-peak concrete pours to prior to 2 a.m. actually seems like a reasonable compromise, assuming that the permits are still intended to be granted sparingly.

        • 2am conclusion of activity leaves only four maybe five hours of sleep time until many need to get up and go to work. The project across the street from me is pouring anywhere form two to four pours a week and will continue with this for at least a year.
          7am-7pm is what is allowed in all of Austin except downtown. There is no need for downtown Austin to be any different.
          Here are how other cities handle construction times. The time below are for throughout each of these cites.
          New York 7am until 6pm,
          Dallas 7am – 7pm,
          Houston 7am-8pm,
          Ft Worth 7am – 8pm
          Boston 7am 6pm
          Chicago 8am-8pm
          Los Angeles 7am-9pm
          San Francisco 7am-8pm

  3. avatar downtown resident says:

    The noise levels and disturbance have been too high for too long; residents are rightly organizing to prevent more of the problems. It has nothing to do with being anti-development, it has to do with the lack of forethought in the development and how it negatively impacts sleeping hours. Other cities in Texas do not allow this level of noise during these hours.

    • avatar David Newberger says:

      Even New York City, the city that never sleeps and the residential highrise capital of America limits construction from 7am to 6pm. In New York City for daytime work, equipment is to be muffled or contained by sound barriers to reduce the sound footprint. Surely Austin can do no less than NYC in providing all of it’s citizens the right to a good nights sleep.

      On November 6th Austin City Council will be voting on a proposal to “limit” construction downtown to 2am. For the majority of us that start their work day at 7 or 8am this leaves only a wee 4 or 5 hour window of quite sleep. Ask Austin City Council Members to limit downtown construction to the same as the entire rest of the residential neighborhoods in Austin. 7am to 7pm.

    • amber gugino says:

      FYI – There’s a NEW proposed amendment on the draft City Council agenda (currently item #34, as of this update) for 11/6/2014. This one is still proposing an expansion of the area, and is also proposing, among other things, to have any and all off-peak concrete pouring in the CBD and expanded areas to end at 2am (when the bars also close). (see update at top of blog for links to documentation, etc).

  4. avatar David Newberger says:

    I live in the south facing side of the Amli on 2nd building. Sunday night I measured steady sound levels on my balcony of 83 to 90db from 1am until 7am. This will continue three or four nights a week for about a year for just the first of four buildings on the Green Water Treatment plant building. When the night time cement pours are going on, the light coming into my bedroom is just about enough to read a book with the shades drawn and all interior lights off. Anyone who thinks this is OK should experience what this is like. Try going three or four nights a week with out proper sleep and then go to work the next day and function properly. Dallas, Houston, Ft Wroth and San Antonio do not allow this type of activity. Every city in Texas except Austin has figured out how to manage construction and allow those living n close proximity to still get some rest at night. All of these cities are thriving without allow middle of the night construction. Permits allowing this level of noise and light pollution from 1am until 7am are wrong and need to be eliminated.

    Thanks
    David Newberger

  5. The item is still on the Council agenda as far as I can tell. Jude, have you confirmed it was pushed back?

    • City staff indicated at a council work session that they will be asking for an indefinite postponement of this item on thursday

      • avatar Amber Galligan says:

        This was a staff item, and apparently, it cannot simply be removed from the Agenda. However, I was able to confirm that City Staff will be requesting an indefinite postponement of this item.

    • amber gugino says:

      FYI – There’s a NEW proposed amendment on the draft City Council agenda (currently item #34, as of this update) for 11/6/2014. This one is still proposing an expansion of the area, and is also proposing, among other things, to have any and all off-peak concrete pouring in the CBD and expanded areas to end at 2am (when the bars also close). (see update at top of blog for links to documentation, etc).

  6. Cuban hit it on the nose! These are the same enlightened individuals who move in and then complain about the music from the club down the street! …

  7. Hilarious that anyone who moves into a high-growth market would want it to slow down after they arrive. Alright folks, the VIP just moved in, let’s shut it down!

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