CANPAC: A seat at the table

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The West Campus skyline, buildings short and tall. 

Photo Credit: Ryan Nill | Daily Texan Guest Columnist

A city council resolution brought by the Central Austin Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee (CANPAC) would, if passed, negatively affect Greek and Co-operative Housing. The Committee is made up of representatives of the seven neighborhoods west and north of campus, but students have only been represented for the past two years. CANPAC works with the city to zone and define the use of properties; this work ultimately establishes the character, price, and demography of neighborhood demographics. In 2002, at the behest of a City Council tired of hearing numerous heated zoning debates,  CANPAC was formed and given two years to enact a neighborhood plan, upon which everybody could agree. The plan’s main goals were to preserve the nature of the neighborhoods and to make West Campus a vibrant, dense, diverse and affordable urban hub.

In the spring of 2004, city planners presented the plan to the Student Government Assembly and held two open forums in spring 2004. At the assembly, students expressed concern about lack of affordability, decreased parking and the aesthetics of building heights. They also expressed concern over only being allowed input in the final three months of a 24-month process.  

The historic lack of student representation, combined with unfortunate timing — the rezoning issue was brought up during the summer, when many students were gone — and the fact that student representation on CANPAC hasn’t been made permanent leave students with the sense they’ve been cut out of the loop. CANPAC Secretary Linda Team and CANPAC Co-Chair Nuria Zaragoza were unable to confirm whether the temporary nature of the student had yet been voted on, but they are currently operating as if students have a permanent position. 

The Student Government in April appointed as current CANPAC representatives Alayna Alvarez and Samuel Rhea. Student Government informs all external bodies, including CANPAC, of their new representatives upon appointment, and it is the responsibility of the CANPAC Committee to inform representatives of upcoming meetings. On the rezoning issue, Alvarez says, “Both sides have valid points, but I don’t think that this ordinance considered students’ needs enough.”

CANPAC Secretary Team says that CANPAC wants students involved in the process of neighborhood policy making and that she has also enjoyed working with both the Inter-Cooperative Council and the Inter Fraternity Council in the past. I believe, despite a rocky history, students have earned their seat at the CANPAC negotiating table. They should be sure to keep that hard-earned right to negotiate by attending tomorrow’s open meeting.

Nill is an ecology, evolution and behavior sixth-year from San Antonio.