Somebody call the Waaaaaahmbulance! (Austin Edition)

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Hidey ho, neighborinos! I come to you today to share the complete idiocy of a bunch of schmucks in that center all things annoying – Austin, Tx. Yeah, the home of the slogan “Keep Austin Weird” has a bunch of whiny little ignorami. Whoda thunk it, right? Click on through to the other side to read all about it!

So, in a recent Facebook post (okay, a picture with accompanying text – most of these people can probably barely understand words, so pictures help them) it was announced that an apparent long-time hangout/bar/dive is going to be shut down. The eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil landlords are *gasp* wanting to make money with their property! How dare they?!?!? Don’t they know that a handful of semi-nostalgic schmoes would rather they allow this bar to stay open?

For those who don’t want to click and read, allow me to sum it up for you: The owner has let people know that his landlords are refusing to negotiate a “fair and reasonable lease.”  Now, by fair and reasonable, I can only assume he means “low.” Okay, let’s get serious here. Austin real estate has gone through the roof in value. The odds are pretty damn good that the owners of said property have a deal in place which will allow them to make somewhere on the order of a quadrillion dollars. Okay, that’s just an estimate, but still… if they can tear down an old, run-down club that has just been bringing in a relatively low rent for 40 years and sell it to developers who will put up condos or pizza places, they’re most likely going to do so. Because, you know, money.

And that’s where the commenters come in. How dare those landlords want to make money!?! They should be willing to take a loss to keep this “landmark” open! I know! We’ll FORCE them to keep it open! To the Petition-Mobile! We’ll make it a historic landmark!

Reality interjection! Making a location a historic landmark is much harder than these chucklenuts seem to realize. It can’t just be “Because we say so.” There are very specific guidelines. To be exact:

  • The property is at least 50 years old and represents a period of significance of at least 50 years ago, unless the property is of exceptional importance as defined by National Register Bulletin 22, National Park Service (1996); and
  • The property retains a high degree of integrity, as defined by the National Register of Historic Places, that clearly conveys its historical significance and does not include an addition or alteration which has significantly compromised its integrity; and
  • The propertyis individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places; or is designated as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, State Archeological Landmark, or National Historic Landmark OR demonstrates significance in at least two of the following categories:
    (i) Architecture.
    The property embodies the distinguishing characteristics of a recognized architectural style, type, or method of construction; exemplifies technological innovation in design or construction; displays high artistic value in representing ethnic or folk art, architecture, or construction; represents a rare example of an architectural style in the city; serves as an outstanding example of the work of an architect, builder, or artisan who significantly contributed to the development of the city, state, or nation; possesses cultural, historical, or architectural value as a particularly fine or unique example of a utilitarian or vernacular structure; or represents an architectural curiosity or one-of-a-kind building. A property located within a local historic district is ineligible to be nominated for landmark designation under the criterion for architecture, unless it possesses exceptional significance or is representative of a separate period of significance.
    (ii)Historical Associations.
    The property has long-standing significant associations with persons, groups, institutions, businesses, or events of historic importance which contributed significantly to the history of the city, state, or nation; or represents a significant portrayal of the cultural practices or the way of life of a definable group of people in a historic time.
    (iii) Archeology.
    The property has, or is expected to yield, significant data concerning the human history or prehistory of the region;

    (iv) Community Value.
    The property has a unique location, physical characteristic, or significant feature that contributes to the character, image, or cultural identity of the city, a neighborhood, or a particular group.
    (v) Landscape Feature.
    The property is a significant natural or designed landscape or landscape feature with artistic, aesthetic, cultural, or historical value to the city.

As you can see, this is pretty damn specific. The numbnuts in the comments up there actually did find this, but they seem to have missed something very important… that little “and” at the end of the first two sections. See, that means you don’t have to meet one requirement, as the comment-spuds were saying. You have to meet all of them! And since the location has only been open since 1974 (41 years ago) it loses on the very first requirement. Thanks for playing! Try again in 9 years! Oh, wait…. it’ll be condos by then. So sorry! But, just for the sake of argument, let’s look at the other Reqs.

Part two is kind of tricky. I honestly have no clue whether the bar has never been modified from it’s original design. I would kind of assume it has, since most bars change design at least semi-regularly, to keep things fresh. But hey… maybe it’s the same dive bar it was in 1974. Who knows?

Part three is another one that the spuds don’t seem to understand. Right off the bat, it isn’t listed as an official landmark anywhere, so just skip to the big “OR.” This is where the spuds get tripped up. They seem to think any one of these would be enough to qualify it, but it plainly says it must demonstrate significance in at least two of the categories. TWO! At least! First, it has no architectural significance. This is not a bar designed by Gaudi or Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s just a building. The second, Historical Associations, is probably the best bet here. If they could get proof that some at least semi-famous bands had gotten their start there, it might fit. Maybe. Also “represents a significant portrayal of the cultural practices or the way of life of a definable group of people in a historic time” might work, since it could be argued that it represents the musical culture of the area. Again, if anyone really significant has played there. From the lists in the original post and comments, there really hasn’t, though. So, on to (iii)… Archeology. On second thought, let’s just skip that, since it is utterly impossible to argue the archeological significance of a bar. Community value… again, maybe. If it’s unique. In my experience, though, one bar with a stage is approximately the same as every other bar with a stage. And the fifth category, Landscape feature, if even more silly to think of than Archeology, so let’s just pretend it isn’t there.

So, to sum it up… IF you ignore the fact that it doesn’t establish it’s case on the first requirement (being 50 years old) AND it has not changed significantly in those not-50 years AND it has been a significant part of the history of someone of significance themselves AND it has a unique feature of some sort, then MAYBE it can become qualified as a landmark. The procedure, however, isn’t easy or quick, and guess what? The landlords don’t have to wait for you. This is still, as of this writing, a free country, based on capitalism. They own the property and it isn’t a landmark. They can sell it, rent it out, or burn it to the ground and play tiddly winks in the ashes as long as they don’t damage anyone else’s property or try to claim insurance after burning it. Bernie Sanders (and our current Presidential Obamanation) may want to make it a nice, socialist world where people have to get permission from the government to change a lightbulb, but as of now, it isn’t. One of the spuds says “The greed of developers across the nation that are causing rent to skyrocket for working people and forcing old businesses out of their locations is only surpassed by the immense spinelessness of the city officials who are letting it happen.” Ignoring the hideous grammar, he really needs to get a grasp on a couple of things. Number one – It isn’t greed that is causing rents to skyrocket. Rents, especially for commercial properties or those in areas under development,  go up because the property increases in value, and/or expenses related to the property increase. Very few landlords raise rent strictly because they’re greedy and think they can swindle a few extra bucks out of their tenants. Number two – City officials, spineless or otherwise, aren’t letting it happen. You see, old chum, this is (again) a capitalist society. The owners have every right to charge what they want, and the city leaders have exactly jack shit to say about it. If I own a property and want, when the current lease is up, to raise the rent for the property to a billion dollars a month, I can ask that. I won’t get it, and the property will stay vacant, but I can ask any damn amount that I want. Freedom! Do you really want to live in a world where the government (local or otherwise) decides what you can charge for things? Imagine if you were selling your car and want $3000 and a government agent came up and said “No, that car can only be sold for $1200.” You’d be pissed, right? Well, that’s exactly what you are saying should happen here. The government can no more tell these landlords what they can charge for rent than they can go tell the local grocery what they can charge for a dozen eggs. Go take a couple of economics classes and get back to me, k? Buh bye.

Some silly supposed lawyer (or at least someone who says she went to law school – she isn’t listed in the State Bar listings) says that “this won’t go down without a fight!” I would honestly hope that someone in the legal field would know that you can’t ignore the established regulations to make the site into a landmark, and that fighting to force owners of a property to do something with it that they don’t choose to is a losing battle. Then again, I’ve known more than a few complete morons that could pass the bar.

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