Shared Streets for Rainey? Maybe NOT....
Updated: Sep 16, 2019
Hear why a 12 year resident of Rainey street and President of a Rainey HOA as well as a founding member of RNA believes the pilot of the shared street concept should NOT go forward.
I have been a resident in the Rainey District since 2006. When I moved onto this street it was totally residential, and it continues to increase dramatically into more residential. In other words, we are a residential neighborhood that has some bars and restaurants that have opened on our street. With over 3000 residents on or adjacent to Rainey, we should never be classified as an entertainment district. A major differentiating factor is that we have always been residential. We are not an entertainment district like 6th street or 5th street, that then had residential built on it. We request that you help us protect our residential integrity. For at least 10 years when the restaurants and bars started popping up we have pleaded for sidewalks and constantly through the Rainey Neighbors Assoc. and our own HOA's, pointed out the safety concerns as the area developed. We have watched the city ignore our concerns while continuing to allow more and more development and thus collecting massive amounts of tax dollars, but spending almost no money on our infrastructure. I strongly oppose a pilot shared streets program for Rainey for the below additional reasons:
• The city should fund completing sidewalks on both sides of the street so people don't have to walk in the street before they ever look at closing the street
• Rainey street is critical egress and ingress for the neighborhood for not only the residents, but for critical emergency services to reach both the north and south ends of Rainey
• Rainey street was designed to be a residential street and remains our main access street to our home at all hours of the day and all days of the week
• The city is considering vacating Bierce street alley in front of the MACC. This should not happen for the same reasons, but if it did it would limit further access for residents and emergency vehicles
• It could severely impact our property values because of lack of access which does not help owners or the city
• Closing Rainey for any reason is basically calling it an entertainment district rather than residential, which it is not. Just because it is zoned CBD does not mean it is an entertainment district. Thousands live there now and thousands more are coming.
• Residents with large investments in the area should have first priority on use of the street. We support people coming to Rainey to support the bars and restaurants, but not closing our street so they can walk in it and we can't drive.
• Closing north Rainey for SXSW causes total impasses on south Rainey because of Rideshare/taxi queuing. It makes it almost impossible to get in and out of our parking garages. You would be causing this every week if you close Rainey for weekends. It blocks access for emergency vehicles. (This should change in future for these reasons. The city cannot just ignore the dangerous situation closing Rainey anytime causes for us residents)
In summary, the city has ignored Rainey for 10 years as we have literally pleaded for infrastructure to keep up with the residential and commercial development and all of the traffic and safety issues. I know because I am the President of an HOA and was one of the founding members of the Rainey Neighbors Association and was very active in communicating this to council and to the heads of Transportation etc. We even supported the parking meters on Rainey because we were promised a large portion of the funds would go to help with sidewalks and other infrastructure like a redesign or our roundabout. This turned out to be a total misrepresentation by the staff at that time, as the meters were installed, but the improvements never occurred. I oppose the pilot, because a pilot means you are looking at the possibility of doing this in the future on certain days or permanently and this should never be considered for all the above reasons.
What I think should be considered immediately instead, is construction of sidewalks the full length of Rainey (Stop waiting for the developers to foot the bill. They pay for it by building the buildings.) Review of parking on both sides of north Rainey. Better paint markings on the calming humps to make them more visible to slow traffic. Leave Bierce alley open from Driskill to River for additional traffic flow and access. Closing it would divert more traffic onto north Rainey which is what we are trying to avoid. BTW Bierce alley via River was one of the few access roads to the Van Zandt Hotel and The Shore Condos during SXSW. These are four simple solutions that don't involve closing the street. There also needs to be a slowing down of the approval process for future buildings until the infrastructure is improved or the city is just compounding the problem.
I hope this clearly outlines why Rainey should never be closed, so a pilot to see how it works is going the wrong direction. We desperately need to have the city build infrastructure so Rainey can better handle the traffic there now as well as the traffic in the future. I don't like to complain about an issue without offering a solution and I hope I have done this clearly. Thank you for listening and I hope we can talk more about this soon.