Seaholm TIF zone approved

The redevelopment of the Seaholm powerplant has just taken a big step forward.  The City approved the tax increment financing zone to pay for new public utilities within the 7.8 acre site sandwiched between Cesar Chavez and 3rd Street.

TIFs work by applying the increase in ad valorem tax revenue within a defined zone to repay the debt used to build the public infrastructure.
ABJ article

renderings of the Seaholm Powerplant redevelopment

renderings of the Seaholm Powerplant redevelopment

Downtown Austin Parking + the most interesting presentation on parking in the history of the world.

Downtown Austin Parking = FAIL

Downtown Austin Parking = FAIL

The most interesting presentation about parking in the history of the world (pdf).

(Okay, this is about parking so it’s dry as your grandmothers turkey.  But, in the world of parking, this is a home run presentation.  I’ve heard from DANA board members that Patrick Siegman, the guy who wrote the presentation, is an amazing speaker on the topic of parking and new urbanism.)

I’ll help out… below are three major reforms that could be applied to Downtown Austin parking.

1. Charge fair-market prices for curb parking
2. Spend the resulting revenue to pay for neighborhood public improvements
3. Remove the requirements for off-street parking

Over the past 48 hours there’s been lots of discussion over at Austin Contrarian about parking issues. This is encouraging because sometimes I wonder if our citizens recognize the immense impact that parking guidelines have on the look and feel of our city.  Downtown Austin apartments, condos, and retail are putting more stress on the availability of [convenient] parking.  Parking has a causal relationship with keeping cars on the road, walkability, and overall neighborhood-ness.

In October I was fortunate to be included in a delegation of Austinites sent to Vancouver in order to learn about how they’ve managed rapid growth and become one of the most admired cities in the world. One of their council members, Gordon Price, delivered one of the most impassioned orations about smart urban planning.  He made one particular comment that struck me…

“Show me your parking ordinance, and I’ll show you what your city looks like!”

Personally, this was a revelation.  Will Austin City Council adopt new parking rules that will encourage use of mass transit and walkability?  I hope so.  The alternative is more cars, more roads, and more scorched earth strip malls.