What is a reasonable timeframe and an appropriate boundary for notification about a demolition site?

by rachel.crist, almost 2 years ago
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

The City of Austin has notification requirements in place for different types of development related cases. Notices are typically mailed to property owners, City of Austin utility account holders, registered neighborhood associations, and other organizations whose boundaries include or are adjacent to the proposed site. What number of days do you think is a reasonable timeframe to be notified about a demolition? What number of feet is an appropriate boundary for demolition notifications? Please be specific.

For more information, please visit: www.austintexas.gov/page/development-notifications

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Consultation has concluded

  • scottturner about 2 years ago
    The property is looked at by the Historic Preservation office to see if it may be historic. If so, it has to go through the Historic Landmark Commission with related notifications. If not, it's not historic and there would be no need to notify anyone about it's removal. Demo notifications would only add delay and cost to the process. There is no rationale for the question posed here?
  • ncarty97 about 2 years ago
    Only immediate neighbors should be informed. 100 feet seems reasonable. Anything beyond that and you're just asking for people that aren't directly affected by the work to become involved, and the only ones that will do that are the ones who just want to see all demolitions and construction stopped.
  • ATX-Citizen about 2 years ago
    The rules in place are fine, any additional notification requirements only add cost to the project and do nothing to improve the required safety of the project.
  • Austinite about 2 years ago
    For properties that are contributing to a national register historic district, there should be more time allowed for historic research prior to release of demolition permits. The time periods in code currently are not enough time to do the research and make it through the commissions and council for a vote. These timeframes may have made sense when Austin was much smaller, but are too short given how much demolition the city is undergoing in modern times.
  • AustinResident over 2 years ago
    Many demolitions are older homes that already have to send notification for the historic landmark commission hearing - and the fees on that are already too high. Why would additional notification be needed? Just ask the homeowner to put up their own sign a week in advance of the demolition starting. IF you move forward, then adjacent homes/properties only should have to be notified.
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    • Caroline Reynolds over 2 years ago
      None of the Austin fees are high enough. They are half or less than those charged in Dallas, Houston, Ft. Worth and San Antonio. Austin seems to get the whining contractors and builders. In fact, I do not believe that your are indeed, an AustinResident -- more likely a Russian robot causing grief.

      Notification is necessary so that severely allergic children and residents, as well as small children can make arrangements to be absent during demo activities that will release, at the least, 50 years or more of rat and roach droppings and pollen by smashing in the house with a back hoe and running over the pieces with a bull dozer. At worse, the demo will release lead-containing paint dust, mercury thermometer/ thermostat vapors and asbestos particles. The area should be covered by by fine water mist during crushing activity to protect the demo workers and the neighbors.
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      • AustinResident over 2 years ago
        While I'm sure the Russians are well-versed in our historic landmark process, I am indeed an Austin resident. You say fees aren't high enough - how high is high enough? What would you base the fees on? There are restrictions on this based on State law, and while you may want high fees to achieve the goals of keeping Austin as close to 1970s as possible, unfortunately the only thing certain is change has and will continue in this town. So, if you want people who live here to be able to tear down homes past their useful life (nothing lasts forever) and stay on their lot that they rightfully own, then you can't just tax them and put unreasonable fees on them and expect them to stay.
  • Onetalltreeman over 2 years ago
    Formal notification of signage and mailings to neighboring lots within 300 feet of site 21 days in advance of demolition permit review. Proper asbestos removal procedures (to prevent air-borne contamination) must be in place prior to start of any demolition for any home or accessory buildings older than 1978. Pre-demo meeting with EV inspector for tree protection, silt fencing and preventative measures required. Spot inspections required to ensure compliance.
    Hide reply (1)
    • AustinCitizen over 2 years ago
      I think you’re on the right track here, but I would increase radius to 400’ to be in line with a recent studies recommendation and would increase the delay period as well. (see my other post in this section) Also, while 1978 may be a good cutoff for lead paint in houses. it may not work as a cut-off date for asbestos concerns.
  • Christopher Johnson over 2 years ago
    Posted sign on property 14-days in advance.
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    • MP over 2 years ago
      This seems reasonable--it doesn't add significant cost of mailing all residents within an area but still provides notice to nearby property owners and renters.
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      • AustinCitizen over 2 years ago
        I don’t think a sign alone is adequate warning. How would people living in properties in back of the demolition site be notified if they never walk or drive on the street the job-site faces? Also, I think people often tune out the visual clutter of signs they already see, (garage sales, lawn care advertisements etc.) and that used by themselves may go unnoticed. I think mailed notices within a 400’ radius of the site upon the city’s receipt of application for a permit and the beginning of the delay period would work better. This with a posted sign (with set visibility requirements) posted at the site together with the the use of followup door hangtags distributed to same properties closer to (but not right before) the actual demolition date would be a good starting point.
  • DavidW over 2 years ago
    Zoning requires notification, because it requires public hearing. Do building permits and demolition permits require notification? Notification is reasonable, lets just define the purpose of the notification. Figure out the cost.
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    • Caroline Reynolds over 2 years ago
      unfortunately, Mr. Sadowsky allows the demo contractors to drop the application in his office the afternoon or morning before work is to start and obtain a permit immediately. This raises question regarding the level of review given to the permit to begin with. Alternatively, Mr. Sadowsky and his staff may be reviewing the permit applications without payment of the fee, and then letting the demo contractor drop the check by the morning that work will begin. That would be intentionally cutting the neighbors out of the review process and a repudiation of Mr. Cronk's professed desire for transparency.
  • wimi over 2 years ago
    From cancer.gov

    "Who is at risk for an asbestos-related disease?
    Everyone is exposed to asbestos at some time during their life. Low levels of asbestos are present in the air, water, and soil. However, most people do not become ill from their exposure. People who become ill from asbestos are usually those who are exposed to it on a regular basis, most often in a job where they work directly with the material or through substantial environmental contact."

    So it sounds like there is a high risk from people living in homes with asbestos for years and years and years. And a low risk from a one time event from people 300 feet away.

    And this regulation would increase the chance of someone living for additional decades in a home with asbestos.

    At the very least the city needs to show conclusively they are not increasing the risk of people developing problems by making it more likely people will have long term exposure (by staying in homes for additional decades) and making it more likely asbestos homes will be remodeled instead of demoed. When a home is remodeled its generally unregulated and people are less likely to water down a home they plan to live in because of mold related issues.
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    • Caroline Reynolds over 2 years ago
      Unfortunately, you did not mention the citation for your quote. There is no date. There is no context. Additionally, the quote was a sweeping generalization -- it is not true that EVERYONE is exposed to asbestos sometime during their life. Simply looking at a piece of asbestos does not cause ingestion or inhalation.

      The clouds of particulates surrounding every demolition in Shoalmont and Allandale indicates to any serious engineer or scientist that there is a significant potential for children, pets, other residents and wild life to inhale and /or ingest everything from allergenic roach and rat droppings to toxic and hazardous lead paint dust and mercury thermometer vapor to asbestos particles caused by crushing the house with a back hoe and running over it with a bull dozer. It is well known by environmental engineers and scientists that asbestos is contained in mastic, linoleum and wall board.
  • AustinCitizen over 2 years ago
    A Recent 2013 study in lead and other heavy metal dust-fall from SFH demolitions showed that dangerous particulate can travel upwards of 400’ from the demolition site and came to the conclusion that “Neighbor notification should be expanded to at least 400 feet away from single-family housing demolition, not just adjacent properties. ” I would support this required distance for a notification.

    Hide reply (1)
    • cmgiles0 over 2 years ago
      not sure i agree, but at least you have some science and logic behind this! why is the city just asking for random opinions instead of looking into available science, studies, etc? I guess voters' opinions are more important that scientific studies.
  • wimi over 2 years ago
    The notification requirement should not be added. Our city has a grave housing crisis. We need more housing and missing middle. This requirement does little but increase the cost of housing by increasing holding costs.

    And again the risk of people living in homes for decades far outweighs the risks of a one time event of home demolition.

    If anything the city should be promoting the demolition of homes with asbestos. They are a health risk due to long time exposure to residents and nearby owners. This is doubly true when they are older and in a state of decay.
  • Ford Prefect over 2 years ago
    Consider 60 days and 300 feet. Notification should inform the surrounding and nearby residents within 300 feet not only of the pending demolition but also of the potential hazards related to the demolition of houses containing asbestos, lead and other toxic materials. In addition, require that the City Arborist have adequate time to review the application, visit the property and recommend appropriate tree protection actions prior to approval of the demolition permit.
  • Mark Lind over 2 years ago
    30 days and 150 feet
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    • RioGTomlin over 2 years ago
      Can you further explain, "And 150 Feet"
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      • Mark Lind over 2 years ago
        150 feet to either side of the property is what I meant, however
        I think in retrospect that may be too much, so how about:
        "Notification shall be given 30 days prior to demolition for property owners and neighbors (i.e.: renters) that reside in or own property that is either : one lot (or) 75' away (whichever is the greater of the two) to either side of the property in question."
        Hide reply (1)
        • AustinCitizen over 2 years ago
          How did you come up with distance of “75’ or one lot over”? Are they from a field study, or just arbitrary, based only on what you would tolerate and feel to be necessary?
  • paladinoc over 2 years ago
    14 days should be MORE than enough time. A notification should just be to make those who are closet to the property aware that it is happening. Adjoining lots should be more than enough. Other proposals I've read in the news about a 150' radius, or 30-35 days, only serve to slow down and raise costs - which raises cost of housing! Why do some people think the City has a right to tell a property owner what to do with their building? We already have literally dozens of rules, historical reviews, etc etc. Why are we even discussing another layer?
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    • AustinCitizen over 2 years ago
      30 days would seem fair to me with a set time for a demolition contractor to perform their work in. While you suggest that notification of “Adjoining lots should be more than enough” this is not inline with the latest studies that shows just of how far lead and other particulate can travel off site. The city has a “right” to limit your actions to what you do with your property in so far as it may affect other people’s right to live in health and safety. This is one of those tradeoffs to living in a city vs. an unincorporated area. Would you agree that nearby residents have the right to not be dusted with hazardous fallout from a demolition on someone else’s lot? The cost of housing is already such, that I do not believe any passed on cost from regulation of demolition would have any real effect on baseline affordability here. Speaking personally, I have never seen anything that an Austinite of ordinary means would ever consider to be affordable be built on any of these razed lots, so I don’t see much merit to your “affordability” argument.
  • Mary Reed over 2 years ago
    No less than 14 days in advance.