Sunday, December 9, 2018

Weather, ZAPCO, Traffic and More!

Welcome to Winter!  Well, not yet actually - Winter officially starts at 4:23 PM on December 21...  We got all our December rain in 3 days.  I measured 2.48 inches total for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Big day was Friday with 2.11 inches.  Been good fireplace weather though - and the clouds are gone today!  Enjoy!

ZAPCO met in regular session on Wednesday, December 5.  Here is the meeting packet.  

Item 5 was postponed to January 9, after some confusion and discussion.  This property is the property East of the Police Facility and currently is slated for a storage / office facility.  The owner appears to want to modify that plan - we shall see in January.

Item 6 was passed unanimously.

Item 7 was a variance requested allowing increased cut and fill allowances and was approved unanimously.  This is the property at Bee Creek Road and Hwy. 71.

8-9 were variance request for a commercial lot at 15301 Pheasant Lane.  This is a woodworking shop on a .3 acre lot next to Whitacres Body Shop.  Variances were granted to allow fewer parking spaces and reducing the driveway restrictions.  This looks like a good business for this commercial lot, my only reservations are what will happen if the property is sold in the future.

Item 10 was a sign variance for the new La Quinta at The Oaks.  A variance was granted for the main sign at the top of the building but was denied for the sunburst on the side of the building. 

If you would like to see the long version here is a link to the video.
 Lot of discussion on social media about traffic and accidents both on 620 and Hwy. 71.  As far as 620, we have funds committed to improve it from Hwy 17 to just North of the Lakeway city limits.  It is and has been in the planning stages for months now.  This will widen 620 and include a median to restrict left turn actions.  I have reported the street lights that are not working at Lohmans and 620 - they are TxDOT's responsibility.  Since they are not working yet I suspect it was not just a bulb issue.  I'm really not sure if they ever worked.  I expect more information on this shortly and will post it when I get it.

Hwy. 71 has had a speed study done and is waiting on final approval to lower the limit to the Pedernales to 55 mph.  I'm told that Travis County is stepping up enforcement on this section - this is what will make a difference.  As long as drivers are going 10-20 mph above the posted speed limits lowering the limit is not effective.

A barrier is also problematic.  Provision would have to be made for "u-turns" so residences and businesses are accessible.  That would require significant increases in width that is likely not available or very expensive.

It would be wonderful if we could modify driving habits including distractions and excessive speed - these are your neighbors.  Maybe increased enforcement, signage and word of mouth could make a difference.  We've got a good start.

I was actually hit last Thursday in Austin.  Waiting to merge on 360 a car hit the car behind me and that car bumped me.  The only damage was to the license plate of the car behind me - had a perfect impression of my trailer hitch...

Lakeway Veterinary Clinic had their annual Holiday Party Saturday - what a GREAT time!  They had BBQ, bounce houses, a bunch of great raffles, live music and more.  They are a GREAT service to the community, our only 24 hour clinic for our wonderful animals.  Go by and see them!  Great folks and Dr. Doyle is the BEST!

Please be careful out there and drive safely - and try to be courteous.  Let someone in, check twice before pulling into traffic and use that lever on the left side of the steering column.  It gives the people behind (or in front) of you some idea of what you are going to do!  And put your phone down.  Let's have a happy and safe holiday season!

Thanks for reading the blog!   Don't forget to go to my website and look at the area pictures - if you haven't yet look at the Panoramas!

If you would like to be added to my email list send a note to and I'll get it done.

Joe Bain

Monday, December 3, 2018

Traffic, Roads, Awards, Pictures and More!

Traffic, traffic and more traffic!  We are certainly still growing faster than anyone expected.  One real solution to the accidents is to change driving habits.  Roads are expensive.  Right of Way is expensive and has to be acquired in order to build the expensive roads.  By the time 620 is improved to 6 lanes and a median, it will continue to be congested because of the growth in the area.

Lots of people are upset with the accidents on Hwy. 71 from Hamilton Pool Road to the Pedernales.  I have recently been told that the speed limit will be lowered to 55 mph on that stretch of road - will that help?  Not if the same folks that are driving 70-80 mph in the 60-65 mph limit sections don't change.  I've also been told that Travis County is stepping up the patrols on 71 along with the DPS. 

I'm also working on getting the street lights fixed at the corner of Lohmans and 620.  There are four lights - none working.  My contact at TxDOT is looking into it.  Thanks!

Would a barrier on 71 help?  Barriers are very problematic.  Somewhere along the way access to residences and businesses on the other side has to be provided.  A U-turn on 71 is a disaster.  They have some on the West side of San Antonio but they require great widths to be useful.

The annual Lakeway Volunteer Appreciation Dinner was held last Thursday evening at Vintage Villas Hotel and Events Center.  Three residents were honored by the city at this event along with a nice dinner.  

Courtesy April Paine
A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the late George Blume Jr.  for his service to the City on many commissions, the City Council and his service to the parks in Lakeway.  The award was accepted by George's wife Faye and son George III.

Courtesy April Paine
Volunteer of the Year was presented to Mike Boston, retired Navy Pilot, for his efforts in organizing Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies for the community each year.  He works tirelessly to make our community better for all the residents.

Courtesy Devin Monk
Mike Stevenson was awarded the Unsung Hero Award for his 12 years of volunteer work at the Lakeway Activity Center, Brookdale assisted living center and local churches.  You have probably see him walking along Lohmans Crossing to and from his volunteer jobs.  

Congratulations to all of the recipients!  Our city is a better place because of your efforts.

ZAPCO meets Wednesday the 5th at 9:15 AM - here's the agenda.  The packets are not on the website so it's really hard to tell what is really happening at this meeting.

The Chase Bank is moving right along at Serene Hills and Hwy 71.  My guess is it will be open soon.  Here's a link to pictures I took today.  Scroll down a little and there are pictures of the Highland Blvd. traffic circle.  Or, here's a link to a Panorama of that area.  Use your mouse to look around or move your smartphone to see the area.

Finished up my cataract surgery last week.  What a great experience - I recommend Lake Travis Eye and Laser Center without hesitation.  Dr. Kyle Rhodes was outstanding from the initial visit to the surgery and surgery center and post op visits.  I now have 20-15 in one eye and 20-20 in the other.  This has been the best doctors association I have ever had - generally no wait in the office and everyone is striving to make your life better!  Thanks! 

That's all for right now, more as I find out.  If you would like to be added to my email list, send a note to and I'll get it done.

Thanks again for all the support and Merry Christmas to everyone this holiday season.  Drive safe and enjoy the decent weather we have had, I hear it's going to rain later in the week.

Joe Bain

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Weather, Lake, Election and More!

Looks like we missed most of the rain with this last front.  A little mist last night but nothing measurable at the 15th Tee weather station.  On the bright side, it looks like Thanksgiving Thursday will be nice.  I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving Day - we should all be thankful for our blessings!

As far as Lake Travis - it is at 681.17 this morning.  That is full + .17 feet.  All the flood gates are closed and things are getting back to normal.  

The elections are over and the results are in (unless someone files a lawsuit).  Here are the full final results.

Few more things of interest:

Lexus of Lakeway sold to the Penske Automotive Group.  It will be interesting to see what changes.  We will miss the previous owner, Vicki Roberts Howard, I hope she stays active in the Lakeway area.  Her generosity has improved the lives of many in the area.  She was a great supporter of the schools and police and much more.

The Lakeway Police Foundation is selling personalized paver / bricks in the front sidewalk of the new police facility.  The money raised goes to the foundation that benefits our police officers and their families.  It is a great organization and takes care of our fine officers - please consider buying a brick!  Here's a link to the site - thanks for your support!
Bee Cave - Did anyone else see the accident on northbound Bee Cave Parkway across from the Galleria entrance last Thursday morning?  I didn't get a picture (we were already late to an appointment), but a semi jumped the curb and took out one of those large power poles that are too close to the road.  It took out the right side of the truck and of course the pole - the cables were hanging low.  If anyone has a picture and is willing to send it to me I think it is of interest.
Sundancer Grill

Looking forward to the Sundancer opening (soon hopefully)!  They had significant damage I suspect since the water was up nearly to the top of the garage style doors.  

Sail & Ski Yacht Club Marina
The marina looks like it's getting back to normal too.  Now we need some more warm weather.  Here's a link to a 360 at the marina.  Use your mouse or finger on your phone to look around.

MOB Near Hospital - East
MOB Near Hospital - West

The Medical Office Building has iron sprouting up from the foundation.  This project is really starting to take shape.

Springhill Suites - North

Springhill Suites is also coming along.  The exterior finishes are going on now and I'm sure they are working on the interior.

I'll be taking some photos of other area projects in the upcoming weeks.  Stay tuned for updates on all the area projects including but not limited to Jason's Deli and the La Quinta, the condo's on Lohmans Spur and maybe some Christmas lights.

It's the Holiday Season - Christmas Decorations are already sprouting up all over - didn't that usually happen after Thanksgiving???

Please be careful on the roads, and be kind to other drivers.  Let's help the traffic by being courteous to others!  You might be surprised how well it works.

That's all for today.  If you need photo's please let me know - visit Sky Pictures website for examples.  Don't forget the weather station at the 15th Tee for local weather too.

If you would like to be added (or removed) from my email list, send a note to and I'll get it done.

Joe Bain

Thursday, November 15, 2018

LCRA, BOA, Lawsuit and More!

Well, it's been a while so let's catch up.  I attended the LCRA committee meeting yesterday and they gave a report on the flood of 2018.  I think they did an excellent job of managing the flood water and Lake Travis did it's job well.  The amount of water that went into Lake Travis would have filled it up if it was empty - that's pretty amazing!  My heart goes out to those at Graveyard Point and other low areas.

The local churches and many charities are helping those folks out, the compassion of our local citizens is overwhelming, thanks to all those for your donations and prayers.

Yesterday the Board of Adjustment met on two height variances.  Here is that agenda.  Both items were passed unanimously.

The elections are over (well maybe, maybe not). We will know about the vote Friday sometime - three votes separate Laurie Higginbotham and Wendy Severance.  There is also the threat of another lawsuit against the city from Mr. Kilgore (who supported Mr. Mastrangelo and Ms. Severance).  The signs are down, at least most of them.

The lawsuit between Cherry Knoll is still rumbling on.  This is a suit brought by Cherry Knoll, LLC that has been dismissed twice in Federal court and is now in District Court.  The City's plea to jurisdiction was denied but HDR motion to dismiss was granted.  HDR was awarded $4000 in attorney's fees and $500 in sanctions against Cherry Knoll.  Just a summary - the city bought property from Cherry Knoll for the Flintrock Road Project and has a signed document that everyone signed agreeing not to sue - all  were happy.  So they sued.  Here is the order.

Mike LaRocca is part of a group forming to look at solutions for Hwy. 71 after the recent crashes.  I look forward to meeting with that group to help them get on the right path.  There have been many improvements made on 71 including traffic signals, center turn lane and pavement treatments.  We'll see what happens with this.

180 Affordable Apartments are proposed for property across from Vineyard Bay on 620 - here's a link to the article in the Impact.  Not in Lakeway, but will affect us with more traffic at a minimum.

Congratulations to JoAnn Anderson - she is the proud winner of a new Mercedes!  She bought a couple of tickets at Randalls and won the Rotary Car and a trip to Germany to visit the factory!  

I went under the knife Monday morning and had a cataract removed by Dr. Rhodes.  The change was amazing - all those things I thought were beige are really white!  Get the other side done next Monday - can't wait!  If you have vision problems or questions, I suggest you make an appointment at Lake Travis Eye Center and let Dr. Rhodes fix you up. You won't be disappointed!

The Wildlife Advisory Committee met last week and approved another spotlight survey this year.  They also intend to do a full survey in September 2019.  My neighbors hit a deer about a week ago, they were not hurt although the their car sustained significant damage - they have a video but I haven't obtained it yet - maybe next week!

I'm behind on my area pictures - been doing cell tower inspections and had a little boo boo last week and hit a guy wire.  Wasn't pretty!  All should be back to normal soon (insurance is GREAT)!

That's all for right now, more soon!  Thanks for all the support - let me know if you would like to be added to my email list.

Joe Bain

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Beautiful Day, Lakeway, Wrecks and Injuries and Support to Two Area Businesses!

It's been a beautiful day in the neighborhood!  I hope you were able to get out and enjoy it for a while.  The flood gates are down to two and Lake Travis is down to 683.74 as I write this blog.  About 3 feet to go to full!

I thought I would start out today talking about Lakeway.  We moved here in 1988 - quite a while back and have roots here from the late 60's when my Aunt bought a lot and built a house.  Some of the things we loved were no garbage cans on the curb, no junk cars, no boats stored in driveways, and speed limits that were observed by the residents.  These things happened because of strict ordinances enforced by Lakeway.  The city has grown significantly since then, but it's still a great city.  

I noticed a flare up on social media about a code enforcement person "went into my house and took pictures without permission".  I don't know any more than anyone else on this - but here's my take for what it's worth:

1)  I find it amazing that a code officer would just barge in and I don't have any evidence except hearsay that it happened.
2)  I didn't need a permit - only tile work.  Again hearsay - I've heard he now has a permit (that wasn't necessary?) again more second hand rumor.
3)  Two other rumors, he came in for no reason & he was answering a complaint from a neighbor.
4)  I've also heard that someone did a FOIA request and got Steve Jones personal history file from Pflugerville (1980's) - I wonder if they got his yearbook too.
5)  There's another rumor that the code officer has gotten threats.

Really folks, this is incredible.  The knee jerk reaction to perceived issues on social media is not helpful or healthy.  If there was a law broken, the police will investigate and handle it.  If you have a legitimate complaint, file it with Building and Development or the police - if it is not handled in a timely manner, call the city manager, the mayor or a council member.  Where has civility gone?

Here is a link to the city's statement.
The Statesman reports that a bicyclist was seriously injured near Lohmans Crossing and 620 about 5:45 AM.  Please be careful and watch out for cyclists in the area - especially when lighting is poor.  This gentleman worked at Randall's and is reported on life support.  The driver left the scene and was apprehended by Lakeway Police.  Please keep him in your prayers.

Some of you might know our puppy was diagnosed with congestive heart failure a few weeks ago.  I bring this up because the care that Lakeway Vet has given us has been overwhelming.  Having a 24 hour vet in the area has certainly been a godsend and we are lucky to have Dr. Doyle and his office take on this task.  If you need a vet, please consider Lakeway Vet, 512-263-2134 - their service and caring is absolutely outstanding!

A Baylor Scott and White Marble Falls physician, Dr. Michael James Babineneux died after a pickup truck struck his vehicle on Texas 71 near Serene Hills Dr.  Please keep his family in your prayers.  According the the DPS report the driver of the pickup was using the center turn lane to pass another car in front of him.  

In some good news, O'Neill's Pools and Hot Tubs were named in the top 50 pool and spa service ranking.  It's good to see a local business do good!  Congratulations!

November 10th the Lakeway Swim center will host another Worldwide Aquathon Day with instructor Terri Mitchell.  First session starts at 11 AM - this event is free of charge!  Here is a link to more info.  Check it out - I plan to take some pictures.

I have one more shameless referral of a business in Lakeway - Dr. Rhodes at Lake Travis Eye and Laser center does a wonderful job.  If you need an ophthalmologist he's the guy.  He did wonderful work for my wife and is doing cataract surgery on me in the next couple of weeks.  I'll keep you posted on how it turns out - tell him I sent you!

Don't forget the Veteran's Day Ceremony at 3:30 PM in Lake Travis ISD's Performing Arts Center.  The guest speaker will be Anna Baker of the Texas Veterans Commission.

The Public Engagement Advisory Committee meets on November 6th from 1 PM to 3:30 PM at the City Hall.  Here is a link to that agenda.

Zoning and Planning will meet Wednesday the 7th at 9:15 AM at City Hall.  Here is a link to that agenda.

The Wildlife Advisory Committee meets November 8th at 6:30 PM in the City Hall.

The Parks and Recreation Committee meets Tuesday, November 6 at 6:30 PM.  Here is their agenda.

And finally, Council will meet in special session Wednesday, November 7th at 2:00 PM.  Here is that agenda.

That's all for now.  Just a note to the council candidate that tried to harass me while I was in my front yard - I will not be intimidated by your actions.  Please learn to be civil.

If you would like to be added (or removed) from my email list - please send a note to and I'll get it done.  Thanks for all the continued support!  I'll be glad when this election is over!!  As always, questions and email's are almost always answered - I love Lakeway!

Joe Bain

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Flood, Pictures, Boil Water and More!

Well, here we are on Sunday and I'm behind as usual.  The weather has been gorgeous hasn't it!  I never thought I would wish the rain would stop but I almost reached that point.

Jason's Deli Site Work
PD Facility Road Right Before Asphalt
I was busy last week training to inspect cell towers for my new business - Sky Pictures.  If you haven't seen the website yet, click the link and check it out.  Look at "Recent Photo's" to see the area construction update or click here.  This is a picture of the site work going on for Jason's Deli.  I also noticed they put down asphalt on the Police Facility road yesterday - it's moving right along.  The project is on time to be completed in the February - March 2019 time frame.  I'll try to get some interior pictures soon.  Click on the pictures for a larger view.  There are more pictures in recent photo's.

Double click on the pictures for a larger image!

I'll be glad when the election is over.  It disturbs me that candidates that want to make the laws can't seem to follow them and continue to put signs in the right of way and even on city property.  

Please vote!  It looks like the voting totals are way up this election.  Glenda Engert and Betty Haley are my candidates of choice and I would appreciate your support for them.  They both have the city's best interest at heart and are not special interest candidates.  Both will work hard to keep taxes down and keep Lakeway the place that most of us moved here for.

The Lakeway Arts Committee meets Monday at the City Hall at 5:30 PM.  Here's the agenda.  Looks like they have lots to talk about.

Interesting about the "Boil Water" issue.  If you live in the Lakeway MUD area or Water District 17 area or Hurst Creek MUD, you are not affected.  Thanks to those entities for having the capacity to serve their areas without interruption.  This includes the "Old Lakeway" area, along 620 and the Village of the Hills.  It looks like at least part of Rough Hollow and the Highlands are affected.  Check with your supplier to be sure! Maybe they will lift the restriction today.

Lake Level Graph
As far as the flood, Lake Travis is currently at 695.21 - this is still 14.21 feet into the flood plain.  The lake is going down about 2 feet a day with 4 flood gates still open.  Some of the Graveyard Point area is still under water.

The Veteran's day Ceremony this year will be on Sunday, November 11th scheduled for 3:30 PM at the Lake Travis ISD's Performing Arts Center, 3324 RM 620 S.  Anna Baker of the Texas Veterans Commission will be the guest speaker.

I also attended the Patient Advisory Board Meeting at Baylor Scott & White last week.  It is a Board formed to make patient experience better at the hospital.  More on that as we move forward.

That's all for today - be sure to check out the Recent Pictures on the Sky Pictures Website.  Follow me on Instagram - jbain18.  If you have a home you want a photo of or an event, shoot me an email and I'll take care of it!

Thanks for the continued interest - don't forget to vote -  Glenda and Betty for Lakeway City Council.  Be sure to check your votes, there are reports some of the machines are making changes.

If you want to be added to my email list, send a note to and I'll get you added (or removed).

Joe Bain

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Weather Stats, Mansfield Dam and Some Pictures

Let's look at the rain and weather issues.  I'm sure you are getting good updates from all the media coverage so I won't be sending out too many updates.  Currently Lake Travis is at 704.12 feet.  Full pool is 681 so we are 23.12 feet into the flood area of the lake.  The highest I've seen on the LCRA website was 704.39, so we are going down a little bit.  Of course the continuation of the decrease depends on any rain in the watershed zone.

So far we have received 8.6 inches in October, and 24.46 since September 1.  A lot of rain for the Hill Country!  

June 25, 1997 - Lake level 705.11
If you get a chance, go down to Mansfield dam and view the 4 floodgates open.  It is impressive!  Here's a picture I took from a plane the last time they were open.  It smells like sewer - that is normal because of the naturally occurring hydrogen sulfide gas that is produced off the bottom of the lake.  

Here is a link to the LCRA hydromet that gives current lake levels.  

I've taken a few pictures at Graveyard Point, but just today.  Here is a link to those pictures on Sky Pictures > Recent Pictures.  It's illegal to fly a drone at the dam because of national security issues, some are doing it.  Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be better and I'll try to post some more pictures.

Here's a video link of some of Graveyard Point - It is a LARGE file so be patient! 

Another video file of the Graveyard Point area.

Monday is the first day for early voting, please make a good choice for those that will continue to keep Lakeway great.  I am supporting Glenda Engert and Betty Haley, I think they are solid candidates that have Lakeway in their heart.  They are not single interest candidates.  I would appreciate it if you would cast your vote for them.  Please VOTE!  25 years ago, well over 50% of the citizens voted in Lakeway elections, let's do that again!

More tomorrow if I can get time.  If you want to be added to my email list, send a note to and I'll get you added.  Thanks for reading the blog.  If you have questions or suggestions, I always read and usually answer all my emails!

Joe Bain