City Council Candidate Forum Questions

The UDGA group had a great discussion February 23rd on the upcoming AIA candidate forum. Thanks to all for the input and interest in helping with the event. Past candidate forums have been a solid success drawing approximately 60 people.

The election this year for council members is May 14. Candidates include Chris Riley, Josia Ingalls, Randi Shade, Kris Bailey, Chris Nielsen, Laura Morrison, Eric Rangel, and Toby Ryan. We will target the very end or March or early April to have the forum.

The forum will run approximately 2 hours. Each candidate will give an introduction, then questions will be asked by a moderator, next the audience will be able to ask questions, and finally candidates will be given a chance to make a short closing statement.

The group discussed teaming with another prominent local group with a focus on the built environment such as CNU or ULI. Next tasks for the sub-committee are to pin down the exact logistics of the event, contact all candidates and work on a press release/advertising, and formulate questions.

I WOULD LIKE FOR YOU TO EMAIL ME A QUESTION FOR THE CANDIDATES. I will compile these questions for the group to review over the next couple of weeks.

Here are questions from a previous AIA Candidate Forum to get you thinking.

Thanks for everyone's continued input on this.

1. Commercial Design Standards- What is your assessment of the success of the commercial design standards in terms of production and implementation? What is your commitment to improving both the ordinance and its use?

2. Infrastructure-Do you support concentrating infrastructure improvements in key prioritized redevelopment zones or “catalyst” infrastructure projects? If so, what should be the determining factors in developing the prioritized list?

3. Incentives-there has been a lot of controversy about the role of incentives in development. Considering the turmoil of the economy, what role should taxpayer money play to support private sector development that is in line with our larger goals,assuming these developments cannot be achieved otherwise? What mechanisms would you consider to achieve these goals and what do you consider “worthy” of taxpayer dollars.

4. Density Bonus and TOD’s- Are the density bonuses and development regulations outlined in our TOD’s great enough to support the stated affordable housing goals or the density required to support the transit? If not, then what further steps need to be taken?

5. Schools and Community-City of Austin and AISD. Some of us are deciding to move out of desirable “urban” neighborhoods in pursuit of the best schools for our children. How do you propose to align the values and goals of the city and its institutions with respect to the basic needs of families like ours? Can we better use our schools as the anchors for community stability, health, and growth?

6. Comprehensive Plan- Describe your goals and priorities for the Comprehensive Plan with respect to process and outcome

7. Sustainability- Describe some of the environmental and sustainable initiatives that you will champion on Council.

8. Connectivity - We talk about congestion, reduction of pollution. Aside from mass transit, how would you propose to implement improved connectivity and open space within our existing infrastructure?

9. Housing- Discuss your goals to balance growth, density, affordability, community culture and community values and how might it relate to the recommendations outlined in the recently released Housing Market Study Housing Market Study (which includes educating residents, reconsidering the role that many neighborhood groups are playing in development decisions, Increasing density, Developing a strong Comprehensive Plan) .

10. Design Leadership- Design leadership is important in this room, but many times the role of the Architect and the shape of the development are predetermined based upon the complex layers of site permitting regulations, legal constraints, and proven/unproven trends in the real estate market. The Architect is often viewed as a key resource in better defining the public realm. How can the City of Austin empower the local design community in having a greater impact in creating the built environment?

(thanks to Bart Whatley for organizing this event and writing this up!)