Street Closure Ordinance

TOMORROW the Austin City Council is voting on an Ordinance that could affect some running races in Austin. Read on and think about making your voice heard.

Some time ago, a Street Closure Task Force was set up to address concerns brought up by neighborhoods, churches, and businesses regarding street closures for special events in Austin. Many of these groups want to drastically decrease street closures, which would mean much fewer races and festivals, especially in the downtown area.

Current Situation
There is an ordinance up for vote tomorrow which contains some major deviations from the task force recommendations. This ordinance threatens the existence of many of the races and festivals that we all participate in and love about Austin.

What you can do
Write to the Mayor Will Wynn and the City Council members and let them know how you feel about the vote tomorrow. Ask them to vote ‘no’ on Ordinance 14-8 if you’re concerned about running races in our hometown.

It’s important that you write a personal note that explains why this issue is important to YOU.

Email addresses,,,,,,

More detailed information
John Conley is the Race Director for Conley Sports, the race production company reponsible for the Austin Marathon, Texas Round-up, and others. He’s opposed to the ordinance because it does not take into account may recommendations of the Task Force.

“This ordinance is bad public policy put on a fast-track, that if passed in its current form, will have a negative impact on all Austin special events, especially Austin running events. We do not yet know what the unintended consequences of this ordinance will be.

The intended consequences will have a direct and adverse effect the dozens of non-profit organizations that rely on the revenue generated by these events. Running events in particular will be negatively impacted and many will be unable to either meet the new requirements or afford the additional cost or loss of business resulting from enactment of this ordinance.

More importantly, it will also not address the concerns of the neighborhood associations, churches or businesses who stepped forward in appropriate protest and asked for there to be a remedy. They too did not feel that this ordinance addressed their concerns, which is why so many came out to oppose it at the April 2nd Council Meeting and it was temporarily shelved.

I’m convinced that we can work out disagreements with those who are negatively impacted by street events. The Street Event Task Force itself was a living reminder of our ability to negotiate.”

If you’d like to see John’s entire email with specific issues about the ordinance, shoot me an email.

Here’s the email I wrote to the City Council; I urge you to draft your own message to them and encourage the Council to keep working until the Ordinance better serves the whole community.

Dear Mayor Wynn and City Council Members,

I’m writing to ask you to please vote against Street Event Closure Ordinance 14-8 that is being presented to the Austin City Council this Thursday, April 30th.

I’ve read through the draft ordinance, and I’ve reviewed what others have to say about it, and that compelled me to write to all of you. I’m concerned that one of the things I love most about Austin — the city’s commitment to fitness and the wide range of running races that bring the community together — are in jeopardy.

In February 2008, my husband and I volunteered at the finish line of the Austin Marathon, and we were so inspired, we decided to start running, too… with the goal of completing the Austin Half Marathon in February 2009. During our training, we ran in the Keep Austin Weird 5K, the Bat Run, the Moonlight Margarita Run, the Nike Human Race 10K, the 3M Half Marathon, and — finally — the Austin Half Marathon.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that running those races together has strengthened our relationship to each other and our affection for Austin. It’s very moving and rewarding to participate in organized races that bring together so many people — all huffing and puffing and sweating together.

The restrictions outlined in the ordinance regarding timelines, street closures, and sound seem overwhelming, and I fear that they will prove too challenging for race organizers. The smaller races — like the Moonlight Margarita run or the Bat Run, for example — are SO much fun… but I imagine that their budgets and staff might not be able to comply with the guidelines in the ordinance.

Please vote no on the ordinance and allow more time for a new one to be drafted that will better support everyone in Austin — runners, spectators, and late-sleepers.

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