Information For New Neighbors

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Our neighborhood has many beautiful landscapes and lovely greenbelts. They provide us with pleasant places to live and places to hike and enjoy nature. However, the greenbelts (and often the green space around our homes) is a source of wildfire fuel. Occasional strong rains help that fuel to grow, and dry times cause it to become brittle and fire-ready. As we continue to experience years of drought, the NWACA area is very vulnerable to wildfire. Almost all of our 4000+ homes are easily reached by embers that might fly out from a wildfire in our canyons (or, in fact, from any fire source). Therefore, it’s important that each of our homes is made as free of wildfire risks as possible.

To learn more about wildfire prevention, read the materials in this collection. A good summary is in this brochure. To be sure that your home is well-hardened against wildfire, sign up for a free wildfire risk evaluation at this link.

Crime prevention is important to all of us in the neighborhood, as we consider the safety of our families, pets, homes, and possessions. NWACA has an active Neighborhood Watch program to help neighbors establish their street as a collaborative group that watches out for problems and helps protect each other from harm.

There is a large collection of information about our Neighborhood Watch program here. If your street has a Neighborhood Watch sign on it, check with a neighbor to see who is your Watch Captain and get in touch. If there is no sign, that may be an invitation for you to start the group! You can sign up here for more information or to volunteer.

You’ve noticed that your neighborhood is full of lovely trees, many of them oak trees. They bring us lots of benefits, but they require good care from us to remain vibrant. One large issue neighbors have dealt with over the years is oak wilt. This disease threatens live oaks and red oaks, with serious consequences – generally death of the infected tree, and the possibility of killing those surrounding it – unless treated early. Our neighborhood has had large outbreaks of oak wilt in its history, costing residents in aggregate hundreds of thousands of dollars in mitigation and tree removal. Treating just one tree can cost more than $1000. Therefore, it’s very important to prevent the occurrence of oak wilt.

You can read more about oak wilt, its prevention and its treatment here.

Several key points need to keep in mind:

  • Do not prune oaks between February 1 and June 30. This is the time when the beetle that transmits oak wilt is most active. You will see yard signs all around NWACA in the spring reminding all of us of these dates.
  • Do not employ tree trimmers who go door to door soliciting business. They are unlikely to use good practices. Anyone who trims your trees should treat the wounds; if a trimmer is not doing so, it’s a sign they are not a professional.
  • Always employ certified arborists, and check their credentials at these web sites, to be sure they know how to deal with your oaks. Many charlatans masquerade as tree trimming experts in our neighborhood.
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If you are new to the City of Austin, the array of trash and recycling bins might be a bit confusing. At this point, residents of the City have three types of collections:

  • Recyclable materials (the big blue bin) – newspaper, office paper, aluminum, hard plastic, glass containers, and some others. For a full list, see this City of Austin web site. A common mistake to avoid is the use of plastic bags in the blue bin. They clog the sorting equipment, so no plastic bags should ever be put in the blue bin. The blue bin is set out every two weeks, according to a schedule that is mailed to your address each year. You can also find the calendar at the same web site.
  • Yard waste for recycling – large trash cans or leaf bags with leaves, branches, and other yard waste is collected weekly on your designated trash day.
  • Landfill trash – trash that is not recyclable is collected weekly on your designated trash day. There are 4 sizes of trash containers, with monthly trash fees that vary by size. You can see the alternatives at this web site.

In addition, there are special collections done twice a year. A large brush pickup occurs once in winter and once in summer, and a bulk trash collection (doors, carpets, furniture, appliances, …) is also done once in winter and once in summer. For more details, see this web site.

There are many organizations in Austin that recycle and reuse specific types of items. Here is a list of those locations and what they take.

We live in a hilly, green area which we share with a lot of wildlife. Over the years, NWACA has strived for habitat balance, where the needs of plants, animals, and humans are met, and we can all coexist. Sometimes things get out of balance, as when wildlife becomes habituated to the human environment and abandons its natural world. That can lead to bad consequences for both the wildlife (whose health depends on the wilderness diet) and the neighbors (who encounter threats to pets and people).

The most prevalent animals of concern to our neighborhood are raccoons, coyotes, and deer. Raccoons can be very destructive to our homes, and they should never be encouraged to remain nearby. See this link for more information about dealing with raccoons. Coyotes feed on small animals, and they do a good job of controlling rats and other vermin; however, when they become habituated to people, they also attack cats and small dogs. See the articles in this collection for more information on coyotes.

Deer are beautiful members of our neighborhood, but they are vulnerable to our cars when they are on our streets. We have heightened concern during the mating season in November and December, when the animals are focused on each other and can dart into traffic they don’t notice. Similar care is needed in the fawning season in the spring when the mother deer are protecting their fawns, as they meander through the neighborhood. You can find more information about deer in our area in this set of material.

As the deer walk through our neighborhoods, they graze on the plants they find – especially those that are non-native shrubbery and flowers. If you are new to this area and aren’t aware of what plants deer prefer and which they leave alone, you might review this brochure; however, realize that deer don’t read well, so they might nibble on things the list says are safe!

A general rule of thumb: Don’t feed the wildlife. It’s bad for them, and it leads unwelcome wildlife to take advantage of whatever feeding is being done. Feeding of deer is prohibited by City Ordinance; for details see the ordinance. Experience shows that feeding deer (or raccoons, or whatever particular animal), also attracts coyotes, rats, and other unwelcome animals.

Another rule of thumb: If you have a problem encounter with wildlife, call 311 and report it. If a coyote attacks a pet or person, call it in. If you encounter an injured or dead deer, call it in. If you ever see a feral hog in the neighborhood, call and report it immediately. Problems with feral hogs have been rare in NWACA so far, but they have caused extensive damage in neighborhoods just west of Loop 360. We need to prevent them getting a toehold in the neighborhood.

We are pleased you’ve moved into our NWACA neighborhood, and we hope you enjoy your new home! There are many interesting things going on, including special events throughout the year. The highlight for many neighbors is our huge 4th of July Parade and Party. Other things you’ll want to watch for are the annual neighborhood meeting in May, the pool parties at Murchison Pool Park during the summer, and the Neighborhood Garage Sale in the fall of each year.

As you can see looking around the web site, we have about a dozen committees who work in areas that make our neighborhood a safe and pleasant place to be. You’re welcome to join a committee that fits your interests, and get to know some of your neighbors who share those interests. Whether it’s parks, or transportation, or communication, or public safety, or something else, there’s bound to be a slot for you. Take a look at the list here and let us know of your interest on this page.

Each year you’ll also see opportunities for special recycling events. One of the events each year is a BOPA (batteries, oil, paint, antifreeze) collection day; we also take clean Syrofoam at this event. The other recycling event each year is an electronics recycling day, when you can dispose of used electronics that no longer work, as well as Styrofoam. These are important to the neighborhood because none of these items can go into the regular trash. The NWACA Tree, Wildlife, and Environment Committee runs these events, and they haul the items to the City of Austin’s special recycling center in far south Austin for appropriate disposal.

Most of the events and services of NWACA are freely available to the public, but they’re made possible by the membership fees of NWACA members. Some events, like the special recycling events, are open to members only. With an annual membership fee of just $25 per household, being a NWACA member is a real bargain, and we invite you to join us here to help keep our neighborhood vibrant.

In addition to the monthly newsletter that comes to your home, there are several other ways to stay informed about what’s going on in the neighborhood. See the details on this page.

Welcome to your new home!