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City Council To Consider Amendment on Off-Peak Concrete Pouring Thursday 11/20

11/21/2014: Last night, City Council approved a temporary ordinance that will limit overnight concrete pouring in CBD and P zones (DMU is not affected) parts of the neighborhood from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. and which will create a 60-day stakeholder process for a permanent solution.

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.

DANA has taken a formal position on this item:

WHEREAS, the current City of Austin (“COA”) Code section 9-2-21 provides for the “…delivery, finish, place or pour [of] concrete during the non-peak period of 7:00 PM to 6:00 AM at property located within the CBD …”; and

WHEREAS, no other major city in Texas routinely permits construction activities after 8:00 PM; and

WHEREAS, the CBD now has over 12,000 residents with hundreds of additional units under construction; and

WHEREAS, such permits have been routinely issued by Staff without notice to or an opportunity for comment from affected residents; and

WHEREAS, neither the existing nor the currently proposed version of 9-2-21 contain any objective, measurable standards for lighting or noise impacts upon adjacent residential units; and

WHEREAS, the existing COA Code section 25-3-86 does contain such standards.  Specifically that lighting must be directed onto the subject property and/or shielded with no more than 0.4 fc and no sound greater than 70 dba at the property line; and

WHEREAS, the current amendment to 9-2-21, as proposed by Council member Morrison, would limit construction activities to 2:00 AM, “except in extraordinary circumstances of limited duration”, but fails to provide any guidance as to what would constitute such circumstances and the proposed amendment sets no objective, measurable standards for light and noise intrusion into adjacent residential properties; and

WHEREAS, the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (“DANA”) believes it is in the best interests of the City and its residents to amend 9-2-21 to provide for reasonable, objective and measurable standards for construction activities during non-peak hours; and

WHEREAS, further delay or postponement is simply a continuation of the present, unsatisfactory regulatory regime;

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that DANA urges the Mayor and Council to  adopt and require the City Staff to expeditiously implement a reasonable ordinance for the regulation of construction activities during non-peak hours.  Specifically, an ordinance that will:

1. Limit construction activities to the hours of 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM;

2.  Allow concrete pouring activities to be permitted outside of the stipulated hours only for extraordinary circumstances such as the pouring of a “mat slab”.

3.  Incorporate into the revised, amended 9-2-21 the lighting (0.4 fc at the property line) and sound (70 dba at the property line) levels of COA Code section 25-3-86.

4.  Provide for an application for construction activities during non-peak hours that includes notice provisions similar to the application for an amplified sound permit under COA Code section 9-2-12.

10/30/2014: There’s a substitute proposed amendmenton 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.

UPDATE: 10/21: This amendment was not passed, reportedly to do stakeholder feedback like DANA’s. Laura Morrison has offered a substitute amendment, which will be considered on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014.

DANA Members / Readers, Screenshot 2014-10-16 15.17.49Here’s a chance to be influential on an issue that DIRECTLY affects you. City Council will be considering an Amendment to the COA Code (Sec. 9-2) relating to permitting requirements regarding off-peak concrete pouring. The item is currently #18 on the agenda, which can be found HERE. When you click on the item, the supporting documents appear on the right-hand column of the screen. In July, DANA submitted a letter to the City regarding the code and the proposed amendment to the code. DANA has also formally submitted the following concerns regarding the code / proposed amendment:

  1. 1. Notices are not required, but are at the option of the Director.
  2. 2. The proposed amendment substantially expands the area in which such permits are allowed, currently only “CBD”, to include “DMU” and “P” zoning.
  3. 3. The proposed revision does not require notice to property owners within 600 feet of the site, as is the case with the COA Amplified Sound Permit.  Nor to adjacent HOA’s.
  4. 4. The proposed amendment fails to specify any sound limits as is the case with the amplified sound ordinance (85 dba at the property line for outdoor events).
  5. 5. The proposed amendment fails to stipulate any time requirements for the application so as to allow for timely notice and response by owners who may be effected.
  6. 6. Based on the Staff’s survey of other major cities including Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth and San Antonio no other major city in Texas permits construction after 8 PM.

Many residents / members have expressed that they would like to see overnight pours prohibited altogether.  However, others state that restricting the concrete pours provide a possible disincentive for future dense development, may lengthen the overall period of construction, and would provide traffic issues for daytime commuters. Now is the time to let your thoughts on this issue be heard.  If you are passionate about this issue, we URGE you to attend the October 23rd Council Meeting. You are also encouraged to reach out to City Council as an individual resident.