Preserving and Protecting West Austin

The West Austin Neighborhood Group (WANG) is a non-profit organization of residents with the shared goal of preserving West Austin and protecting it from deterioration. WANG is concerned with community development, ecology, safety, and any other matters that indirectly and directly affect the quality and character of the neighborhood and the City of Austin.

March Monthly Meeting

March 12 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Monthly meeting 6PM at HEB meeting room

Contact Us

Let us know about neighborhood issues and concerns! You can reach us at wang-board@westaustinng.com

WANG Newsletter

Sign up to receive our E-Newsletter! Please send an email to newsletter@westaustinng.com Latest Issue: WANG May/June 2021 E-Newsletter

Special Events

It’s my Park Day at Reed Park

March 2 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

This Saturday, March 2nd, Friends of Reed Park is partnering with Austin Parks Foundation for the biannual It's My Park Day. On this day all around Austin, volunteers will head to their local parks and green spaces to clean up litter, mulch trees, and more. As a friend of Reed Park, we'd like to invite you and your family

Muny Updates

  • President’sMessage

    by Holly Reed

    PreservingBlackHistoryinAustin

    February is Black History Month, and we are honored and privileged to have a nationally recognized Civil Rights Landmark in our West Austin Neighborhood Group area. The Lions Municipal Golf Course (MUNY) was the first public golf course in the southern United States to become integrated. And this was a peaceful integration, that occurred without violence, and without litigation.

     

    In late 1950, two Black children who were caddies at MUNY decided to play golf in defiance of Jim Crow laws. They were detained while city officials deliberated, and then released after Mayor Taylor Glass said to “let them play.” Following the courageous act of these children, Black citizens from all over Texas came to Lions Municipal to play golf. It was the first and only public golf course where they could play in 1950. Heavyweight champion Joe Louis heard about the integration of MUNY and came to the course repeatedly, as he advocated for equal rights to public places by playing golf on courses all over the nation.

     

    Austin has a dark history of racial segregation. Schools and businesses were not completely integrated until well after the 1964 Civil Rights Act went into effect. The University of Texas did not integrate its athletic program until 1969. And Austin continued to be racially divided geographically, with Black residents having been forced to move to East Austin by the 1924 city master plan. There were very few places, if any, in West Austin where Black citizens felt safe, let alone welcome, in the 1950s and 60s. Clarksville, as a former Freedman Community and primarily Black neighborhood, was one. And MUNY became another. This rare bridge between two separated communities encouraged people to meet and recreate in a public place. And MUNY continues to be a bridge between Austin’s historically separated communities.

     

    In 2009 Lions Municipal Golf Course was given a Texas Historical Marker and in 2016 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its role in Civil Rights history, in honor of the young Black children who bravely integrated the course. This year MUNY turns 100, established by the Austin Founder Lions Club and opened as Austin’s first public golf course in 1928.

     

    One would think that a place of such significant Civil Rights history, and a beloved public green space, would be revered and preserved forever. But MUNY is in danger of being closed and commercially developed by the landowner, the University of Texas. Since 1973, the West Austin Neighborhood Group has opposed this proposition, along with thousands of citizens of all demographics from neighborhoods all over Austin and the nation. The fight to SAVE MUNY has been going on for over 50 years, and continues to this day.

     

    On January 18th, during Martin Luther King Jr. week, the National President of the NAACP Derrick Johnson, Texas State NAACP Chair Gary Bledsoe, and Austin NAACP Chapter President Nelson Linder joined the Muny Conservancy for a press conference at Lions Municipal Golf Course. Leaders from Austin’s Black Community attended along with members of WANG, District 10 Council Member Alison Alter, and Board Members of the Save Historic Muny District. All stood in solidarity for the preservation of all 141 acres and 18 holes of this historic golf course.

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    NAACP President Derrick Johnson summed up the importance of

    preserving MUNY’s Black History:

    “This golf course is significant. It’s significant for African Americans because it demonstrates the journey through which we have come…History will tell us what we should do or shouldn’t do for the future.”

  • The West Austin Neighborhood Group supports the preservation of the entire 141 acres and all 18 holes of Lions Municipal Golf Course (MUNY) as a historic public golf course and open green space. We are working with the Muny Conservancy and Save Historic Muny District to preserve MUNY in perpetuity, for the citizens of Austin to enjoy forever.

    The future of Muny is still undetermined. The City of Austin and University of Texas continue to discuss future development of the Brackenridge Tract, and possibly Lions Municipal Golf Course. Therefore it is essential that we join together to voice our support for the preservation of all 141 acres of historic MUNY, to the Mayor, City Council members and to the University of Texas President and Board of Regents. If the University develops the land, we will lose not only Muny’s history, but one of the last beautiful tracts of open green space in Austin. Once it’s gone, we can’t ever have it back. Please visit the Muny Conservancy website at savemuny.com to learn how you can help with the effort to Save Muny forever, to serve our entire diverse Austin community, golfers and non-golfers alike.

    The historic Lions Municipal Golf Course will be 100 years years old in 2024. Celebrations for the 100 year anniversary of Muny are being planned. Please visit www.savemuny.com for more information.

    “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone? They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.” -Joni Mitchell

Land Development Updates

  • What Passed? and What Is Coming?

     

    Land Code Changes Passed in 2023 (“H.O.M.E” Phase 1)

    More Dwelling Units on Single-Family Lots
    Three dwelling units per lot are now authorized in single-family districts SF-1, SF-2, and SF-3. An 11,500 square foot lot zoned SF-2 or SF-3 can now have six units without a zoning change, with a re-subdivision into two lots. If you don’t know your property’s current zoning designation, you can find it by entering your address here.

    More Cars on Your Street
    If more than one unit is being built on the lot it can be 15 feet from the street, with up to four parking spaces in the front yard. Mayor Watson’s council eliminated minimum parking requirements earlier in 2023, so all other parking may be on the street.

    More Short-Term Rentals (STRs)
    For a duplex or two-unit build, one unit can be used as an STR. For three units, there are no restrictions on short-term rentals.

    Loss of “McMansion” Protections
    Floor area ratio (FAR) regulates the cumulative size of structures on a site, and Phase 1 of “H.O.M.E” increases FAR as additional units are added. If all or part of an existing dwelling unit is preserved, the new units are exempted from the limits. The previous “McMansion” rules, limited FAR to .4, meaning a 4,000-square-foot house was allowed on a 10,000 square foot lot. Under Phase 1 of “H.O.M.E.”, a landowner or developer can build 10,000 square feet of units on a 10,000-square-foot lot if the existing unit is preserved.

    Loss of Occupancy Limits
    Local housing occupancy limits are removed, overriding previous rules limiting occupants to four unrelated people or fewer.

  • Reduction in Minimum Lot Sizes
    Having established the right to build three units per lot in Phase 1, the city council plans to reduce minimum lot sizes from 5,750 feet in SF-2 and SF-3 zones during Phase 2. It also plans to reduce the 10,000-square-foot-lot limit in SF-1 to a much smaller size (perhaps as small as 2,500 square feet) and allow existing single-family lots to be subdivided into multiple lots. According to the council’s Housing and Planning Committee, the planned ordinance will “adjust setbacks, height, and impervious cover for single-family zoning to allow more units on smaller lots.” After lot subdivision, the net effect will be as many as nine or more units on existing lots depending on current size.

    Extreme Changes to Compatibility Standards
    The city plans to reduce compatibility standards to only regulate building height for the first 75 linear feet from a single family home.

  • Happy New Year to our West Austin Neighborhood Group members and neighbors. Please join us for our first meeting of 2024, on Wednesday January 10, 6 PM at the Howson Public Library. 2023 presented many challenges for our growing neighborhood and City. We hope to continue working with City policy makers to encourage more COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT as a stronger part of City Planning this year.