This is our Austin and we choose its future by the votes that we cast and the people we elect.

One of my main priorities is to bring balance and reason to the Austin City Council. That means making the right decisions for the right reasons -- something that is not always easy when single-issue groups so often dominate the discussions that take place at City Hall. Oftentimes these groups are right and I agree with them. But I listen to all sides, get the facts, and then work to balance the needs of all parties before making decisions that affect everyone.

The 3-minute video I am sharing here is about one of the most challenging zoning cases to come before the Austin City Council in recent years. Please take the time to watch this video, and please share it with friends.

This particular case cuts to the very core of what differentiates me from my opponent, and is just one example of the importance of bringing balance and reason to decision-making at City Hall.

Without talking to anyone other than a small group of neighborhood association activists, my opponent voted to zone a home historic, against the recommendation of the City's Historic Preservation Office and even against the homeowner's wishes. This zoning change would burden the family with more than $1 million dollars in historic restoration costs that they could not afford to pay.

And this wasn't just any family -- this was a family that had owned and loved their home and their corner lot in Hyde Park for more than 70 years. That's longer than most of the neighborhood association activists have even been alive.

My opponent's reckless disregard for the facts in this case is appalling. Now more than ever, we need balanced -- not biased -- decision-makers at City Hall.

I support historic preservation, and in this case even supported a historic zoning overlay to protect the fabric and character of the entire neighborhood. But the integrity of our City's historic designation program has been called into question in recent years, because the City has not proven to be judicious enough in its granting of historic designations -- especially in the category of single-family homes.

Before shifting the property tax burden of these private homes to the rest of us, a strong case has to be made for doing so. And, an even stronger case has to be made for the City to impose historic zoning AGAINST a homeowner's wishes.

Balancing the Needs of All Sides

Helen Nohra is Hyde Park's oldest living resident. She has lived in the house at the corner of Avenue G and 43rd Street since 1943. Now in her late 90's and on a fixed income, her home has fallen into disrepair and is no longer suitable for her needs. After much difficult deliberation, Helen's daughter, Sylvia Dudney, who grew up in the home and now resides in the house next door, decided in early 2008 that the family's best option was to build a new home for her mother and brother.

An affordable new home would replace the dilapidated old home and also allow for two modest rental units to accommodate caregivers and generate income to cover the family's increasing bills.
Because the house was more than 50 years old, securing a demolition permit to build the new home required review by the Landmark Commission and the Planning Commission.

During multiple hearings on the case over the course of more than three years, the City's Preservation Officer repeatedly said that the home did not meet the criteria for historic zoning. My opponent was on the Planning Commission, and led the effort to zone the home historic, against the wishes of the home owner and against the recommendation of City staff, never once sitting down with the family to better understand their needs. Instead, my opponent insisted that the family spend more than $1 million dollars in restoration expenses, and even went so far as to suggest the family had willfully neglected their home.  

What it really means to "Listen and Respect"
In desperation, Sylvia Dudney emailed the entire Council, asking for help. Although I know many of her neighbors, I had never met Sylvia. But, I took the initiative to respond to her request for help.

I met with Sylvia and looked at her documentation. I brought the family and neighbors together, brought in experts, worked through a mediation process, and tried as hard as I possibly could to find a solution that worked for everyone.

Not every case is this complicated, but this is everybody's Austin. Everyone deserves to be heard, not just those who shout the loudest at City Hall. And while it's easy to come up with a campaign slogan, I encourage you to watch this video to get a better sense for what it really means to "listen and respect the people of Austin."

One House, Two Very Different Approaches
What happens if it's your home that you need to modify to care for an elderly parent, or welcome a new child? Will my opponent listen to your needs, or will she put a neighborhood association's wishes above yours, without even allowing you to make your case?

It's easy to be swayed by powerful neighborhood groups, rather than listening directly to the neighbors themselves. It's much harder to find out the real story and work to balance the needs of all parties.
Re-Elect Randi Shade for City Council     P.O. Box 301479  Austin, TX 78703     info@RandiShade.com
Political advertisement paid for by Re-Elect Randi Shade for City Council Campaign, PO Box 301479, Austin, Texas, 78703, Beverly G. Reeves, Treasurer.
This campaign has not agreed to comply with the contribution and expenditure limits of the Austin Fair Campaign Ordinance. Accordingly, no public funding
will be utilized.
Design by sparklecreative; Hosting by SiteStreet