Neighbors dueling with business for parking see downside of mixed-use zoning


AUSTIN (KXAN) – For Mike Jankowski and his girlfriend, Caroline Langley, sharing Capitol Court in central Austin’s Brentwood neighborhood with neighbors and businesses was not a problem — until they say an auto repair shop took over one of the buildings at the entrance of their road and parking became a nightmare.

“It was never this bad until European Motorwerks moved into that spot,” said Jankowski.

The repair shop’s general manager, Chris Stockdale, says they moved in five years ago. “It’s really not a bad situation,” said Stockdale. “This has been zoned for business use for a long time.”

He adds they have always done their best to accommodate the neighborhood, which was classified as mixed-used back in 2004 by the “Neighborhood Plan.” The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission describes it as an opportunity for citizens to take a proactive role in the planning process and decide how their neighborhoods will move into the future.

The plan allowed for commercial and residential property to mix. And, with the city continuously growing, mixed-use is becoming a popular form of land use, according to the city’s Code Department.

However, some neighbors are starting to feel the impact a growing city and growing business can have on the area. Jankowski says parking is just one of the problems.

“Not only is the parking impossible and [they’re] leaving cars [out on the street],” said Jankowski. “But, [they] use the street as a test track.”

He says the business will test drive vehicles up and down the cul-de-sac as well as leaving several vehicles parked outside for days, but Stockdale says all the extra parked vehicles don’t just belong to him.

“It’s not just our cars,” said Stockdale, as he started listing the other businesses nearby. He believes the reason the neighbors are upset with his company is that, he says, “They get mad when tow trucks drop off cars and they may have to block off the street for four to five minutes.”

Jankowski says he and his girlfriend have contacted the city about all the problems and filed a police complaint.

“They keep calling the police and the police keep coming out and telling them there’s nothing they can do,” said Stockdale. “It’s not like we have junk cars parked out, just periodically we will park and shift some cars, but most of the cars we park on the street are employees’ cars because we don’t have room in the parking lot for employees to park as well.”

According to the city’s Code Department, European Motorwerks is not violating any ordinances when it comes to parking.

“You know, we’re allowed to park some cars in the street,” said Stockdale. “When you buy a home in a dead-end street in an area that’s zoned for commercial use, I mean, like I said, the shops were here before they were. They knew what they were getting into when they moved in.”

But Jankowski says he’s going to continue working toward a solution for the neighborhood.

“I don’t want them to be forced out of business. I just want them to be good neighbors so they don’t end up completely taking over our street and making life a living hell,” said Jankowski.

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