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RECA Testimony: Recommendations by the Historic Landmark Commission

September 28, 2017

Thank you, Mayor, Mayor Pro-Tem, and Members of Council for allowing me the opportunity to testify on this ordinance. My name is Geoffrey Tahuahua and I am here on behalf of the Real Estate Council of Austin. Together we are comprised of over 1,900 commercial real estate professionals throughout Austin and represent the premier advocacy organization for the Central Texas commercial real estate industry.

I am here today to speak against the proposed amendment to City Code that would remove the supermajority requirement currently required at Historic Landmark Commission when a landowner opposes the historic designation. But before you make a decision, you must ask yourselves the question: What is the problem we are trying to solve?

While we see the value in ensuring that historic zoning cases get a fair hearing, we believe that the issue at hand is not the voting requirement, but rather an issue of attendance. We support the recommendation put forth by the Planning Commission on June 13 to permit the Historic Landmark Commission to select alternates. The recommendation of the Planning Commission both assuages the stated concerns of the resolution’s authors, while preserving the integrity of the historic zoning process. 

As you’ll note in the letter we submitted on behalf of our organization and others, the supermajority requirement was not developed overnight. It was developed as a result of dozens of meetings and the findings of the Historic Preservation Task Force. Removing the supermajority requirement would ignore a critical recommendation of that task force and create an unpredictable process for a homeowner when their property is being designated as historic against their will.

RECA is requesting postponement of this item to allow for stakeholders to meet with the Fire Department and Transportation Department to ascertain why the flexibility was removed and what solutions can be achieved.

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