Updates: Customers conducting business with the City of Austin‘s Planning and Development Review Department (PDRD) will notice several improvements when they call or visit PDRD.

  • PDRD has launched (512) 978-4000 as the centralized number for the department, making it easier for customers to get in touch with who they need.

  • Permit Center improvements include an expanded waiting area, "Wait Time” feature, and text alert paging system. More info.

  • Check out Planning and Development Review Department's online tools and resources.

Top suggestions and ideas from the most recent Small Business Summit include:

One Stop Shop for new business owners; one place to go for all permitting and development

Better metrics for tracking customer service

Standardize internal processes

Educational based communication centered around code breakdown with a customer service focus and approach

Online payments

We invite you to build upon these ideas and offer new suggestions below keeping in mind that while broad, big-picture solutions are helpful to discuss, we equally value specific, short-term solutions that may address a single issue within this area.

What are your ideas to enhance customer service or improve the development and permitting process?

Small2_atxss_circularsm

ATX Safer Streets are advocates for a reduction in impaired driving and pedestrian fatalities through expanded late night transportation and parking options. We are actively working to increase late night/ overnight bus service to more parts of the city more frequently, improve cab service through more permits, temporary permits and utilized cab stands, allow regulated TNC's (Uber, Lyft, et al) to operate in Austin and reduce or remove 3am towing for people that have made the right decision to find an alternative way home. We already have some of the harshest DWI laws in the country, and they do little to deter the hundreds of impaired drivers on our streets each night. Our informal survey (see website) points out the obvious. Most people do not feel they have any other options. Buses stop running to most of the city by 11pm (12pm Sat.) and taxis are rare and frustratingly picky on fares, regardless of the legality of their actions. Not only does this lack of options create dangerous driving situations, it also does not allow for service workers to take a bus. Instead they are forced to contribute to pollution, congestion and parking shortages or turn down employment because they cannot get to a job site. We are a 24 hour metropolitan area and we have to treat our infrastructure as such. We must realize Austin is just as busy at 3am as it is at 3pm. The city needs to address our crippling shortage of late night transportation before more people die. You can find more information about our proposals on our website at atxsaferstreets.org

9 Votes Created
Default_avatar
Gary Harris over 3 years ago

"We already have some of the harshest DWI laws in the country, and they do little to deter the hundreds of impaired drivers on our streets each night."

That one sentence is completely inaccurate and the State of Texas by no means has the some of the harshest DWI laws in the country and the entire state has lax DWI enforcement.

Case in point: Madeline Rackley, after a night of drinking, drove her car down a boat ramp and into Ladybird Lake killing her passenger. As a result of killing her passenger, Rackley was sentenced to ten day in jail. Now, can you please cite examples that would indicate that Austin has some of the harshest DWI laws in the country?

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/crime-law/driver-in-fatal-crash-into-austin-lake-pleads-guil/nbjqn/

In order to keep Texas's roads safe, we must lobby the Texas Legislature to pass stricter DWI laws and permit local police departments to set-up Sobriety Check Points.

With stricter DWI enforcement, as well as drunk driving penalties that act as a deterrent, our streets will become much safer.

Vote
Default_avatar
ATX Safer Streets over 3 years ago

Hi Gary, here is a breakdown from a Dallas Fort Worth DWI attorney: http://www.dfwdwi.com/penalties-of-a-conviction/

Remember that harsh laws do not always equate to harsh punishments and the law is not always administered fairly or appropriately.

We are not trying to ease the DWI penalties, however, we believe in a proactive approach. It's much better to encourage people to keep off the streets by giving them options rather than punishing them after. By the time many people (such as your example) are caught, the damage has already been done and there have been lives lost or ruined. We would rather see adequate alternative transportation to more preventable deaths.

As you've asked us to provide examples, can you show definitive proof that harsh DWI laws equal a reduction in DWI?

Perhaps a glance at states with adequate transportation will shed some light. Let's take New York, for example- NYC (which contains nearly half of NY's population in 5 counties- 8,336,697 of 19,576,125) is ranked #1 for transportation (http://www.businessinsider.com/cities-with-best-public-transportation-systems-2014-1). Total DWI's in 2012 for New York? 33,053. Texas population in 2012 was 26,448,193 with the major metropolitan areas of Travis, Bexar, Williamson, DFW, Harris and El Paso counties accounting for 11,927,707 (once again, nearly half of population).Total DWI's in 2012 for Texas? 85,436 (http://responsibility.org/state-facts). That's nearly 3 times the amount of DWI's, or, per capita a rate of .001 in NY vs a rate of .003 in TX.

A 2009 study from Cornell in DC found that for every hour bus service was expanded it reduced fatalities from impaired drivers by 70%, increased ridership by 7% and decreased DWI's by 9%. (http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~raphael/IGERT/Workshop/One%20for%20the%20Road%20April.pdf)

Vote
Default_avatar
Gary Harris over 3 years ago

If you believe that drunk driving laws in Texas are so very "harsh," then you should be willing to go to a Mother's Against Drunk Driving and stand in front of families that have lost loved ones to drunk drinking and explain to them no "Harsh" drunk driving laws are in Texas.

In addition, your view that Ausitin and the State of Texas is very similar to New York City and should adopt the same mass transit model of NYC is shows that you did not consider any valid statistical modeling in your thesis.

However, using the same link you posted, I will cite a city and state that is much more similar to Texas and Austin.

Let's take Utah and Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City like Ausitn has limited mass transit, but unlike Ausitin has little late night mass transit. In 2012 Texas has 5 drunk driving fatalities per 100k population. Utah had only 1.2 drunk driving fatalities per 100k population.

Utah has Sobriety Checkpoints and Texas does not. Due to Utah's Sobriety Checkpoints, their drunk driving fatality rate is 80% lower than Texas.

If we were serious about stopping drunk driving, we would demand Texas legalize sobriety checkpoints.

Vote
Default_avatar
ATX Safer Streets over 3 years ago

We've been asked (and we accepted the invitation) to speak at MADD's upcoming DWI Roundtable. It will be held Wednesday, August 20th from 12:30-1:45 at the Austin History Center if you are interested in attending. We will also be presenting to TxDOT's safety group called Crossroads Coalition on Thursday the 3rd 9:30-11:30 at Austin District Headquarters at 7901 N. I-35.

I would like to point out that I did not refer to NY and TX as similar nor did I state they should have the same transit system, only used NY as an superior transit example. As far as SLC goes in a comparison chart, you must remember that their alcohol serving and sale laws are drastically different than ours and Utah is very near to a dry state.

We have more information on our website if you are curious about what we are doing and how we are attempting to achieve it, and of course we always encourage anybody who has ideas to reduce impaired driving to do their research and approach both like minded people and government officials to further their goals. Getting people off the road is a goal we both share, even if we have different means of approaching it.

Vote
Bootstrap_744723568
Joey Grey Joey Grey over 3 years ago

Personal responsibility is the key issue here, and more laws and law enforcement can't regulate people into making responsible choices; it can only prosecute them after they've already made the irresponsible choice to drive while intoxicated. What ATX Safer Streets is proposing is to make responsible choices easier for more people. Whether you like it or not, Austin has changed, and we are now a 24 hour city, known globally as a party destination. The major tourist attraction here is music and nightlife, and by association, drinking... and the city makes a lot of money off of those alcohol sales. It's not unreasonable to say that if the city is profiting from this behavior, maybe the city should take some steps to accommodate it.

Stricter law enforcement also does not solve the problem of a serious lack of transit options in this town. I have worked downtown and it's absolutely staggering how many people are trying to get home at 2AM on a weekend night but can't find a ride; taxis can't or won't take them, the few buses that are running are not clearly marked and have limited routes. This is not just a problem that effects drunk party people on Dirty Sixth; it effects tourists, service industry workers, and out of town people who are here on business who are just trying to get back to their hotel.

Chief Art Acevedo himself has said that there needs to be more taxicabs on the streets in Austin. There simply aren't enough police to try and get tougher on drunk drivers in Austin, and with Austin's explosive growth rate, there probably never will be.

No one is excusing or apologizing for drunk driving; but with the right resources in place- more taxis, more buses, more trains, more overnight parking - we could stop people from driving drunk by making it easier to leave their car at home when they go out.

Vote
Default_avatar
Gary Harris over 3 years ago

Good to hear that you will be presenting to MADD on August 20th and I hope you have to courage to look into the eyes of parents whose children have been killed by a drunk driver and tell them that you believe Texas drunk driving laws are harsh.

Vote
Default_avatar
Gary Harris over 3 years ago

Joel,

Yes, stricter laws can and do "regulate people into making responsible choices," thereby keeping the public safer than they otherwise would be. That is the entire reason why we do have laws, but if there are elements in our city who oppose heightened DWI enforcement, oppose the implementation of DWI checkpoints and condone a sentence of ten days a jail for a drunk who drives into Ladybird Lake, killing her passenger, then it is unlikely we will make progress towards the goal of making Austin safer.

BTW- Capital Metro busses are clearly marked, so clearly marked that the visually impaired in our community can find their was onto the correct bus any time of the day.

As a sighted person, I never have never found Capital Metro busses to not be clearly marked as coincidentally they have that large letters C-A-P-I-T-A-L-M-E-T-R-O in big letters on all sides of the bus and they have large electronic signs that indicate the route number of said bus.

Yes, while on occasion it appears that some people have difficulty finding a taxi cab, I have found no problem with getting a cab to get me downtown and having my cab driver pick me up downtown at 2:00 a.m. at least two times per week. In fact, I cannot remember a time when my cab driver was more than five minutes late in picking me up at my home or at bar close in downtown Austin.

We are responsible for our choices, and it is not the fault of Capital Metro, the Nigerian immigrant who drives a cab or the bartender that over-serves customers that people drive drunk. It is instead the fault of the people who do drive drunk and the fault of our culture which does not wish to be harsh on drunk drivers.

We need DWI Checkpoints in Texas and we need to implement laws that would sentence first time DWI offenders to six months in prison and a loss their Drivers' License for ten years.

Vote