Bluebonnet Hills 'Negotiated' Historic District Vote on Nov 12th

The Austin City Council will decide on this Thursday, Nov. 12th, on the final vote for the Bluebonnet Hills Historical District. The ordinance is unique in that it is a first-of-its-kind ‘negotiated’ historical zoning. The overwhelming majority of these homes are not “historic”. At this time, the ordinance does not meet the strict standards set forth by the revised Historical Landmark Commission. If this ordinance were to pass, there is every reason that neighborhood associations would use similar ‘negotiated’ historical zoning to shield themselves from CodeNEXT and Imagine Austin. Please contact the following persuadable city council members and ask them to vote “No”:

Group Email (Copy & Paste):;;;;;;

Separate Email (Preferable Method):
Mayor Adler -
CM Casar -
CM Gallo -
CM Garza -
CM Renteria -
CM Troxclair -
CM Zimmerman -


[Here is a sample letter to write to council.]

"Please vote “no” on the proposed Bluebonnet Hills Historical District based on the following three reasons:

  1. Does not meet strict standards of Historical Landmark Commission. The Bluebonnet Hills historical ordinance is unique in that it is a ‘first-of-its-kind’ negotiated historical zoning. The overwhelming majority of these homes are not historic. At this time, the ordinance does not meet the strict standards set forth by the revised 2010 Historical Landmark Commission. If Bluebonnet Hills is designated historic, it will be based not on current HLC charter criteria, but an adhoc, negotiated terms by council.

  2. Unforseen consequences to ImagineAustin & CodeNEXT. Central core neighborhoods will be able to use negotiated historical zoning to effectively “opt out” of current/future FLUM plans thereby halting density, housing units, and ending any chance of missing-middle housing types being able to co-exist. Many of these core areas would for generations be monochromatic in terms of class and race.

  3. A fiduciary responsibility to Austin taxpayers. The 2010 HLC revision was painstakingly reviewed by Austin City Council because the fears of unlimited historic zoning of neighborhood tracts in the city core would have on Austin property taxes as a whole. A preview of the housing affordability crisis Austinites face today.

Thank you for your consideration."

Tommy Ates

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Thank you for posting this!

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My letter:

Mayor and council members:

My name’s Mike Dahmus and my family and I own and reside in a historic landmark home (it was landmarked and zoned many years ago; i.e. it was already that way when we bought it). We went into that transaction knowing about the benefits and costs and we willingly agreed to forego certain property rights in return for certain tax incentives. In other words, nobody is forcing us not to modify our home - we agreed to it ourselves.

Compare and contrast to the proposed Bluebonnet Hills Historical District - in which a minority of homeowners are asking you to prevent their neighbors from exercising their property rights with no compensation in return (and against those neighbors’ will). Many people who bought their homes expecting to be able to add on or renovate or rehab will now not be able to do so (it will not be feasible for many to do so at all; others will not be able to do so in the ways in which they would otherwise prefer). The supply and size of housing units will thus suffer, meaning overall housing affordability will get even worse.

When historic zoning is being applied against the owners’ wishes (or in this case, a local historic district may be imposed when the support for the overall district is very weak and based primarily on a desire to prevent others from developing additional and/or larger housing units), it should meet the highest of standards. This case comes nowhere close to that. If you pass this district, it will embolden every core neighborhood association to attempt a similar move, which would have severe consequences for housing supply (hence affordability and economic justice).

Please vote “no” on the proposed Bluebonnet Hills Historical District.

Thanks for your time.

Mike Dahmus

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Two other arguments to use:

A) From CM Garza:

  • (Paraphrased) Just because a structure is old does not make it “historic”.

B) From CM Gallo:
-(Paraphrased) The few homes which qualify as historic under the revised 2010 HLC ordinance already have an established process for individual landmark status, no need for any change with a negotiated district.

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Tommy, believe the item has been postponed (a quick scan of tomorrow’s agenda seems to verify). A second valid petition was submitted (district within 200 ft of the proposed borders), per the Austin Monitor article from November 9th, & so it appears to be headed towards a December vote. Certainly do not want to slow down letters to Council though! I sent mine in a day before the second reading…

Nice letter Mike - and valuable perspective!

Thanks all for supporting this effort!

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Phil, thank you very much for informing us! I appreciate the update!:slight_smile:

Thanks everyone for your support.
We hope it will be added to the December agenda, but have not had any confirmation, as of yet. We will let you know as soon as we do, when it will be back on the agenda.
At a time when Austin is growing so fast, it is important we all make our voices heard, so that Austin becomes the City it’s residents want. If our elected leaders don’t hear from us, they can not make informed decisions. Keep those letters to Council flowing!
Again, thanks SO much for your support! We appreciate ALL of you very much.

Michele White
President Friends of Blue Bonnet Hills

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Could somebody please clarify for me what is meant by ‘negotiated’ historic district? I would like very much to be able to defend the logic of the people fighting the imposition of the district on a population that seems not to want it, but I’m unclear on what ‘negotiated’ is intended to mean here.

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I have no idea what it means either, and I am in the “negotiated” district and involved.

I would also like to thank everyone for their opposition to this LHD too. Once we know when it will be on the agenda we will let you all know. Can’t wait for the ordeal to end.

Thanks, Rana