This page is dedicated to keeping everyone up to date on the latest projects & issues that are affecting our neighborhood. If there is an issue that you want to see posted here that is not currently posted, please send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org and request that an update for that issue be posted on this page. This is our chance address your concerns, so please take advantage of it! So go ahead and send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org, and let us work to discover your answer!

What kind of issues can be addressed on this page? Issues like parking, rentals, noise, off-leash pets, park usage, etc. The RCNA doesn't have any enforcement capabilities, however we can take your issues to the next MUD meeting and get answers to your questions as needed.

If you see something below that is not accurate, send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org and set us straight!

Thank you!

There has recently been a thread on Nextdoor.com about breakins and suspicious people around the neighborhood. We are not going to discuss all the details here, instead feel free to visit the thread and catch up. However, we do want to list the various ideas our neighbors have posted in that thread to help YOU deter and be ready for any kind of late night unwanted visitor or visitors to you house. You are of course free to pick and choose which of these suggestions you take, if any. We are simply passing along all that we found for the sake of completeness and awareness. So if you recognize something you wrote on Nextdoor, please forgive us for the blatant plagiarism. And as always, feel free to send us an email if you have any additional suggestions or edits!\

  • Keep a can of wasp spray near your front door / back door / wherever else - works better than pepper spray
  • Leave you front AND back lights on over night - these late night visitors can easily scale fences so quietly that the surrounding dogs are not alerted but can be spooked if lights are on
  • Install a motion sensing light on your front porch if you don't want to leave the light on all the time, motion sensing floods on the corners of your house by the garage and both corners of your backyard, and landscape lighting with a "wash" near your gates. You can put these solar panel powered, motion activated flood lights anywhere. They are cheap and you don't need to tie into electrical circuit. "Sunforce 82080 80-LED Solar Motion Light"
  • Make sure to report any suspicious activity to someone - even if just sending an email to the RCNA - so these activities can be properly tracked and more informative action can be taken as warranted
  • Have an alarm system installed and maintained
  • Take a basic self defense class
  • Add padlocks to your gates if you can
  • Keep your car alarm nearby at night when you go to sleep. If something happens, hit the panic button on your car to wake up the neighborhood or at least scare off any potential ne'er-do-wells.
  • At night lock up and disarm your garage door. Just pull on the dangling rope by the garage door motor. If anyone is driving around with a universal remote they will not be able to open your garage door.
  • Make sure to lock your car doors every night
  • Get to know your neighbors and communicate often!
  • Attend a board meeting and get involved!!
  • Read up on forming a neighborhood watch program, and additional safety measures you can take, from the Austin PD

If you have any additions, suggestions, or new information, please feel free to send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org so we can do our best to keep this page updated with the latest and greatest!

In case you need or want it, the non-emergency call-in number for the Williamson County Sheriff's Office Dispatch is 512.864.8301. Call this number to report "stuff" that doesn't qualify for 911. If you want to call the Sheriff's office directly, the numbers are Williamson County: 512-943-1300 & Travis County: 512-974-0845. We've added a paragraph at the bottom of this page if you are interested in the Sheriff Substation in the Rattan Creek Park Community Center.

Be advised that 311 is ONLY FOR TRAVIS COUNTY. Williamson county does not use the 311 service. If you are in Williamson county, and call 311, it will either not work, or you will be connected to the TRAVIS COUNTY non-emergency dispatch center, and they will probably get confused and not be sure how to help you.

Please don't be shy, call them if something suspicious is going on. The only way they can accurately track activity in our neighborhood is if it gets reported. The Wilco Sheriff's Office happens to have a substation in the Rattan Creek Park Community Center. They aren't always there, but sometimes they are already in the neighborhood and can respond very quickly if something questionable is happening. This non-emergency number is also the number to call for any complaints you have about noise, parking, off leash dogs, safety issues, etc.

A special note, the Williamson County folks that answer the non-emergency 512.864.8301 number share a big open office space with the folks that answer the 911 calls. So if you can't remember the non-emergency dispatch number, you can call 911 in Williamson County and ask to be connected to the non-emergency team.

To go into more detail about 311: If you happen to be one of our Rattan Creek Travis county residents, 311 (and 911) works fine for non-emergency issues for you. It just happens that Williamson County currently does not have 311 capability. Anyone in our neighborhood that calls 311 will be connected to the Travis County 311 non-emergency dispatch service. And if you are actually reporting something in Williamson County, sometimes the Travis County 311 dispatchers know what to do and sometimes they don't. Safest best is that if you are in Williamson County, don't use 311, use the 512.864.8301 Williamson County Non-Emergency Dispatch number.

Every once in a while, a rumor surfaces on Facebook or Nextdoor about the Sheriff Substation in the Community Center no longer being used. This is false. It is absolutely still in use as a substation. Keep in mind that this is not a regular police station that is manned 9-5 Monday - Friday or anything remotely like that. It is a place they can go to process folks (which happenes more often than you think), to stretch their legs, to do paperwork, to take their breaks or lunches, to make phone calls, to send/receive faxes, etc. It is basically just a tiny little office in the community center that is there for their use as needed. And it absolutely gets used. It just not a manned office.

If you have any additions, suggestions, or new information, please feel free to send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org so we can do our best to keep this page updated with the latest and greatest!

Every once in a while, a post surfaces on nextdoor.com about off-leash dogs in Rattan Creek Park, and this is a VERY divisive topic. Currently, Rattan Creek Park and in fact the entire neighbor has no official off-leash dog areas. Anyone allowing their dogs to walk, run or roam off-leash is breaking the law according to Williamson County and is subject to a fine. That includes in your front yard or in your garage without proper fencing. So if your dog is off-leash, even in your front yard or garage, you are breaking the county leash laws.

We to make this very clear - the RCNA has absolutely no authority to enforce or make any changes to the current off-leash laws, or to create any kind off-leash area in the Rattan Creek Park. Zero authority. None. The MUD has the authority, and the resources, in order to make something like an official off-leash area happen or to request additional police patrols to monitor off-leash activity. But they need to be at a board meeting and have requests formally and publically made. The MUD board members do not follow Facebook, Nextdoor, and don't rely on email or phone calls for requests. The ONLY way to request enforcement or changes is to attend a monthly MUD board meeting. Attend the MUD meeting and present your case.

Information on the monthly MUD board meetings.

Why do we have the laws that we do? Here are some stories to illustrate:

At about 9:50 this morning I was walking my small miniature poodle on leash, entering Robinson Park at the parking lot by the soccer fields. As I approached I saw two large dogs off leash with their owners playing fetch in the soccer field. I started to turn around to leave and the dogs rushed and attacked my dog, one of them picking her up with its teeth and thrashing her. The owner had a really hard time call them off and then holding onto them, but he managed to hand me my bleeding dog. He then proceeded to yell at me, that it was all my fault for not picking up my dog. There were multiple witnesses. My dog will survive but has multiple puncture wounds and is getting stitches and antibiotics. Someone please explain to me what part of "dogs must be on leash" people don't understand. I will be reporting this to the sheriff's office. If you were there and witnessed my screams and this "neighbor" blaming me, please reach out. I'm at a loss that this continues to happen in our neighborhood. I write this in a shirt and hands drenched with my dog's blood.

You can read the full post along with all the neighborhood comments here.

If you are interested in participating in the formation an off-leash dog park area, take a look at our dog park page and get involved!

Broken record alert: keep in mind that the RCNA is not responsible in any way, shape, or form, for park usage. The rules and enforcement capabilities lie with the MUD, not with the RCNA. All the RCNA can do is advocate for you to the MUD, or help you organize a group to approach the MUD independently. We cannot change the rules or enforce the rules.

If this this is an issue you are passionate about, we strongly encourage you to start or join a "let's push the MUD to create an official Rattan Creek off-leash dog park" (there is better phrasing but you get the idea) group on Facebook or your choice of channels. Notice the word "MUD" and not "RCNA". The MUD is the governing body that would have the authority and finances available to create an off-leash dog area.

We encourage you to come to the RCNA meetings, and we will help you to organize an off-leash area committee. And once organized, we encourage you to approach the MUD, or we at the RCNA will address the MUD on your behalf, with a list of potential solutions. That is the important part - we as a community need to keep brainstorming potential solutions until we come up with something that works. If the MUD shoots down our first 50 ideas, we come up with 51. And we at the RCNA will do everything we can to help you make your voice heard by the MUD. If this facebook group already exists, send an email with the link to webmaster@rattancreek.org and it will be added right here in the blurb and also on our Online Groups page.

If you have constructive ideas for how we, as a neighborhood, and working through the MUD, can create an off-leash dog area, please come share them at any RCNA Board Meeting! Everyone loves their four legged furry friends and family members. What we at the RCNA want to do is to work within the law and come up with a legal solution that works as well as it can for everyone in the neighborhood, dog owners and non dog owners alike.

Broken record alert: Remember, we have no authority to make any changes to the current off-leash laws, or to create an off-leash area in the park. All we can do is advocate to the MUD on behalf of our neighbors. We at the RCNA will ABSOLUTELY advocate for you. And we need to do this in an organized and unified fashion, and take something concrete to the MUD. If we have 50 people show up to EVERY MUD meeting going forward, and everyone takes their alloted 3 minutes to speak, solutions will surface.

If you have any additions, suggestions, or new information, please feel free to send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org so we can do our best to keep this page updated with the latest and greatest!

What this page is not about is Off-Leash Dogs. We already We already have a page dedicated to that. Bottom line, if your dog is off-leash, you are breaking Williamson County law, whether you agree with the law or not, and you are subject to being fined. This page focuses on creating an off-leash area, where you can legally allow your dog(s) off-leash to roam and socialize.

We want to make this very clear - the RCNA has absolutely no authority to create any kind off-leash area in the Rattan Creek Park or anywhere else in the neighborhood. All we can do is advocate to the MUD on behalf of our neighbors and RCNA members. The MUD has the authority, and the resources, to make something like an official off-leash dog area happen. But they need to be presented with a solution that is both legal and agreeable.

As of July 2016, the current MUD board (not the RCNA but the MUD), has had ZERO people ever attend a MUD meeting and ask about the possibility of a dog park. There have been various discussions between neighbors, facebook & nextdoor discussions and comments, questions, concerns - but no-one actually attending a MUD meeting and asking about a dog park. Remember, this is a separate issue from off-leash dogs. There have been plenty of people that have attended and wanted to discuss off-leash dogs. None discussing a dog park.

There is a Facebook Group that has been created specifically to discuss the possibility of a dog park. However, it is a closed group so we have no information on what is being discussed. If you are passionate about having a dog park in the area, consider joining this group and participate in whatever discussions are going on.

A few points:

The empty lot on Dallas Drive next to Tutor Time has been mentioned as a potential dog park area. The problem is that the way the County Law is written is that a dog park has to be enclosed by a "permanent structure". This empty lot next to Tutor Time is a fire station lot that while controlled by the MUD, has deed restrictions on its usage. The main restriction in this case is the fact that the MUD is prohibited from putting up any kind of permanent structure. So since by definition, there cannot be a permanent structure erected, any potential dog park put up there, by definition, would not meet the County requirement of being a permanent structure.

The Rattan Creek Park Greenbelt area, along the hike & bike trails of Rattan Creek, has been floated as a potential place for a dog park. However, this is a FLOOD ZONE. No permanent structures can be erected in a flood zone. The main reason is that if some permanent structure is put up, and water is diverted and causes flood damage, the MUD is liable for that damage. That is a liability they are absolutely not willing to risk, and rightly so. Anyone who has seen pictures of the Rattan Creek greenbelt during really heavy rains, will understand that there can be a HUGE amount of water that moves through that flood area. The MUD is simply not willing, or legally able, to put anything up there.

Robinson Park has been discussed as a potential dog park area. Up to this point the MUD has been very hesitant to convert any of that park to off-leash areas due to the fact that they feel the the usable areas are already heavily used, and they do not feel that the trade-off would be worth it. And the cost to develop other parts of the park are very financially prohibitive.

Ultimately, it is the MUD that will make the decision about land use for a dog park, and eventually any person or group interested in having a dog park in the neighborhood will have to attend a MUD meeting, present their ideas, and work hard with the MUD to make any kind of dog park a reality.

Coyotes are an issue off and on in our neighborhood. The main route for coyotes is the east end of the green belt as it passes under Parmer and into the lands on the east side of Parmer and north of McNeil. There is lots of wildlife out there. Also, generally speaking, when coyotes become a problem in Rattan Creek, it is almost always a sign that they are spreading, and many other outlying areas will experience coyote incursions. Rattan Creek is never alone.

While posting on Facebook or Nextdoor is helpful in alerting your neighbors, that does NOT alert the proper authorities. You really need to call the Williamson County Sheriff's Office non-emergency number at 512-864-8301.

Sunset Valley put together a great page about coyotes, so the rest of this page is a cut and paste of their information, with minor edits. See - not just us in Rattan Creek!

Throughout the year many people may have seen or heard coyotes around the area. Coyotes come near the neighborhoods in search of water and easy food. Coyotes are a member of the dog family, with gray coats and a reddish tinge near the ears and legs. Coyotes are incredibly adaptable animals that can inhabit a variety of different areas. The question of the dangers coyotes pose is often asked and in some areas of the country they can become a nuisance. Although coyote attacks on humans are extremely rare, coyotes may kill domestic animals such as cats and small dogs. The following are some basics that you can do to help reduce coyote occurrences in your area:

  • Do not feed coyotes. Remove all remaining pet food after your pets are done eating.
  • Make garbage inaccessible to animals by using sealed containers. Cover your compost area and do not try to compost meat products.
  • Clean up extra bird seed that falls from bird feeders. Coyotes are attracted to birds and rodents that come to feed on the seed.
  • Keep pets (especially small dogs and cats) indoors. Your pets are most susceptible from dusk to dawn.
  • Fencing may act as a deterrent. Make sure the fence is secure at ground level.
  • Remove brush and tall grass next to your house, to reduce cover for coyotes.
  • Keep dogs on leashes when you are hiking.
  • Teach children to watch wild animals from a distance. If they see a Coyote they need to move away slowly and follow the directions below.
  • If you have a coyote in your yard or see one on the trails, be loud and aggressive. Waving your arms, throwing sticks/rocks, and loud noises will usually scare the coyote off. Never run from a coyote, keep your eyes on the animal.

Most of these recommendations are aimed to reduce the number of confrontations between people and coyotes. Feeding wildlife, allows the wildlife to associate food with humans, and then problems can develop. Keep in mind that more people are killed and injured by pets than wildlife.

Coyote Facts and Safety handout

Check out the Sunset Valley Page with many more links to coyote information at the bottom

To start off, our neighborhood does NOT have a homogenous set of deed restrictions. And it can get very confusing. For a very detailed and real life example, we have 2 neighbors who live next door to each other on Dallas Drive. These 2 neighbors, again right next door to each other, happen to live in 2 different sections of our neighborhood. One of the neighbors is allowed to have a boat parked in his driveway. The neighbor right next door to him is not. And these are indeed enforceable deed restrictions.

Also an important distinction that many people don't fully understand. The RCNA is a neighborhood association, not a homeowner's association. If you understand the difference, awesome! If not, here is a wikipedia entry that better explains the roll of a neighborhood association. Basically, the RCNA has no power whatsoever to enforce deed restrictions, that is solely a MUD power. The RCNA also has no power to "call the cops". If a law is being broken, it is up to each of you to call the cops and report the problem or incident.

That is a specific example, but one we hope that illustrates a very important point. Do not assume anything when it comes to your section's deed restrictions. There are 23 different sections of our neighborhood, which means there are 23 different sets of deed restrictions. It is simply not possible for an RCNA volunteer to be thoroughly familiar with each different set of deed restrictions. And it is not correct to assume that just because your neighbor has a particular deed restriction, that you do too.

On top of deed restrictions, there are also County ordinances that can sometimes be used for situations that are not covered by the deed restrictions. For example, a car sitting in the street for 30 days or more without being moved is considered abandoned and can be towed. Another example is the noise ordinance. Simply call the non-emergency dispatch for your county.

Click here to check out the RCNA list of deed restrictions. We make no guarantee as to the accuracy or completeness of our listing. This is simply provided as is for a place to start your research.

To obtain an official copy of your deed restrictions, or to report a possible deed restriction violation, go visit the deed restriction page on the North Austin MUD #1 website. The MUD has a company that is paid to handle every single deed restriction complaint, and is familiar with all of our various deed restrictions. Do not hesitate to use that resource. Fill out the deed restriction violation form on the bottom of that page. It may take a little while, but they will investigate your submission and get back to you. Unfortunately, sometimes the answer is that there is nothing to be done. It is disappointing when that happens, but let's face it, sometimes life just isn't fair.

One common complaint is overgrown yards. From a deed restriction standpoint, there is nothing that can be done about a neighbor who has an overgrown yard. Our deed restrictions are simply not restrictive enough to have a legal recourse for solving unkempt yard problems. It sill doesn't hurt to make a deed restriction violation, but it may be that no action will be taken. However, one possibble alternate recourse is to contact the health department in the county where the property is located. It may be that they can get involved and order some kind of change in the situation. Otherwise, not much can be done. Maybe its time to recruit some of your fellow neighbors and have a yard maintenance block party!

If you have any additions, suggestions, or new information, please feel free to send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org so we can do our best to keep this page updated with the latest and greatest!

Following is information that has been pieced together from various Facebook & Nextdoor discussions. If you see anything that is not accurate, or have anything to add, please send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org and let us know!

The Austin Public Library issued a News Release, which is reproduced in full below, just in case the link ever disappears.

Effective October 1, 2015, a fee will be charged for people who wish to hold a Library Card but live outside the City Limits.

Free Austin Public Library cards are available to people residing within the Austin City Limits. Not sure if you’re a resident? Use the City of Austin's Jurisdictions Web Map tool to find out if your address lies within Austin’s City Limits. More information about how to use this tool is available on the Austin Residency page. More information about what is required to get a Library Card is available here.

If your address description shows Austin Full Purpose, you qualify for a Library Card free of charge. All other descriptions are considered non-resident addresses and will require a non-resident fee in order to get or renew a Library Card. Non-Resident Library Cards are available for $120 annually or $35 quarterly. Payment must be made upon receipt of the Non-Resident Library Card.

Use of the Library's resources while in any Library location including use of many Online Databases, public computers and wifi and participation in Library programs will remain free and open to all.

This means that we in Rattan Creek, since we are NOT in the City of Austin, are no longer able to use the Austin Public Libaries free of charge. There are ways around this, as posted by our various neighbors on Facebook and Nextdoor.

The consensus is to go to either the Round Rock Library or the Wells Branch Library, and get a library card. With that card you can get a texshare card after 30 days. Using the texshare card, you should be able to use most of the Austin Library resources. Yes, most, but not all. Here is an excellent post by one of our neighbors:

It's been said in pieces here, but just in case, here's what you can do. Go to the Round Rock library. Get their library card for free. Wait 30 days. Go back to the RR library, request a Texshare card. Take the Texshare card to the Spicewood library, get a new account made with the Texshare card. You can now borrow from Spicewood and the APL libraries for as free as before. Limitations: only 10 books out, no downloadble books (though RR has those too). You can still go online and request books as before. As to why, supposedly the library system lost a major grant, so rather than making cards free for everyone, in October 2015 they required you to be an Austin resident, and those of us in the ETJ are not. We can pay money, but it's not worth it. However, most of the Spicewood librarians know this sucks, and they've also been explaining the stuff I did above. It's a bunch of hoops to jump through for the same free service, but it's worth it if you want to keep using the Spicewood library.

Get a card at the Round Rock Library

Get a card at the Well's Branch Library

Texshare Eligibility

While the Plugerville Library was suggested in addition to Round Rock & Wells Branch, it appears that there is a $25 charge for anyone who does not live in the Plugerville ISD, according to This Page. If you have different information, let us know!

It has also been reported that no child will be denied a library card, no matter where they live. So feel free to give this a try and let us know whether that is true or not.

An informative discussion on Nextdoor

An informative discussion on Facebook

Over the years, there have been several people ask about a neighborhood garden at various points in time. However, there has never been any serious follow through. People wonder, why don't we have a neighborhood garden like this neighborhood or that neighborhood?

The answer is very simple. There has been no-one who has stepped up and taken ownership to make it happen. There have been many people who have said something similar to, I'm really interested and I will be more than happy to "help out". Unfortunately, helping out is not the same thing as taking ownership and spearheading the effort.

The MUD would be the group that would need to be convinced, because the MUD controls the available land in the neighborhood. And the way to approach the MUD with your neighborhood garden idea is to attend a monthly MUD meeting.

A little more information: there is an empty lot on Dallas near Parmer next to Tutor Time across from the apartment complex. This lot is actually reserved for a future possible fire station, and is aptly called the fire station lot. The MUD board has already given an initial green light to developing this land as a community garden in the past, with the caveat that no permanent structures can be built. That caveat is actually written into the deed restrictions for that lot, which happens to be one reason why a dog park cannot go there.

Just keep in mind, the community garden is not limited to that spot, that is the only one that has been somewhat seriously floated to the MUD Board of Directors at one of their monthly board meetings. There could be other potential areas, you have to address the MUD with a proposal and see how they respond.

So what the MUD needs is a formalized proposal to be presented to them. Someone showing up to the MUD meeting as saying, "yes I'll lead the charge on a community garden" is not even close to enough for them. They want to see that you've thought it through and you are truly organized and ready to implement your neighborhood garden ideas, along with having a number of people who have signed up to assist you in making this a reality.

So hopefully that answers your questions about a neighborhood garden. If you really want to get a neighborhood garden going, show up to a MUD meeting with some kind of plan, and drive it until you get your garden!

In 2016 there has been quite a renewal in the interest of minimizing the mosquito population with the scare of the Zika virus. There have been many lengthy posts on Facebook, along with a statement for the MUD contractor who handles the parks and greenbelts. Instead of trying to summarize that vast quantity of information, we have instead created an article page and included lots of the Facebook posting unedited.

However, it is worth mentioning here that our District places Mosquito Dunks in standing water areas on a monthly basis during the wet season. These Dunks contain Bacillus genus, a microscopic organism that kills a reasonable percent of mosquito larvae before it emerges into an adult. These Dunks last at least 30 days and become active when wet, then go dormant when dry and activate when it rains again.

In late March of 2016 there was an extensive and educational discussion on Facebook about mosquitos. Rather than trying to summarize, the posting has been copied over. Names have been removed, and various comments have been edited or deleted, however the main information has been left intact. Ahead of the Facebook information, we've included an article supplied by the MUD. If you want to fight mosquitos in your yard, please read the following in its entirety.

MUD Article

Late spring & early summer rains along with warmer temperatures are just what we need to keep our garden growing green, but these conditions are also perfect for a mosquito hatch.

Folks can do many things to try and reduce mosquito populations around their property, however the Center for Disease Control recommends the following as the best mosquito bite prevention methods:

  1. Wear insect repellent: Yes! It is safe. When used as directed, insect repellent is the BEST way to protect yourself from mosquito bites—even children and pregnant women should protect themselves. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer lasting protection.
    • DEET: Products containing DEET include Cutter, OFF, Skintastic.
    • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin): Products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan outside the United States).
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD: Repel contains OLE.
    • IR3535: Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard plus Expedition and SkinSmart.
  2. Cover up: When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  3. Keep mosquitoes outside: Use air conditioning or make sure that you repair and use window/door screens.

The District places Mosquito Dunks in standing water areas on a monthly basis during the wet season. These Dunks contain Bacillus genus, a microscopic organism that kills a reasonable percent of mosquito larvae before it emerges into an adult. These Dunks last at least 30 days and become active when wet, then go dormant when dry and activate when it rains again.

Facebook Discussion - Lengthy & Informative

Mosquitos. Can we talk about strategies that we might be able to do as a neighborhood to reduce mosquitos this summer? When I lived in Circle C for over seven years, one of the biggest surprises was that there were almost no mosquitos in our part of Circle C. Ever. A neighbor explained that was because one of our neighbors had a bunch of purple martin houses. I think purple martins need to have a lot of clearance and can't have their houses close to trees. But there are relatively clear parts of the park and trail that might be suitable. Does anyone know about purple martins or other solutions we can take as a community to reduce mosquitos?

Saw this posted yesterday by a friend:

Central Texas People-- sharing this. One step today for fewer mosquitos this year.

Public service announcement!

So we can enjoy the outdoors this spring: mosquito control advice from another listserv:

1 sentence summary for those in a hurry: Your biologist neighbor who used to study mosquitoes wants you to know that far more than in a typical year, TODAY and TOMORROW are pretty much your big days to very significantly affect how many mosquitoes you will deal with in your yard for the rest of the year with very little work and no cost - by taking 5-10 minutes to walk your property and pour out eliminate any small bodies of water you might have accidentally trapped from this recent rain for them to breed in, you could be choosing between a light or heavy mosquito year for your yard.*

*Please consider checking your yard and passing this information on to your neighbors to encourage them to do so as well! *

(please pass this along!) *----------------------------------------------------------*

*More Details for Anyone Interested:

I am trained as an ecologist, and part of my former research actually directly involved studying factors affecting the presence and growth of mosquito populations over a season (along with many other organisms, but mosquitoes dominated our counts in the early stages of each season, and the lessons from what we saw were striking).

From what I know, this year's incredibly mild winter, as well as our current and potential spring rain patterns make me think that *we could have a horrible year for mosquitoes under business as usual conditions* - all the pesticides or other solutions you want to throw at the problem later in the year may not be enough to make your yard very enjoyable.

However, the prevalence of mosquitoes in all of our yards doesn't actually have to be that bad in Barton Hills - *our underlying dry-land hill country habitat doesn't actually support many mosquitoes here, absent humans inadvertently creating so many places mosquitoes can breed*.

Thus, if everyone just takes a few minutes to check over their yards RIGHT NOW before the major breeding event that the rains we just had have begun runs to its conclusion, our neighborhood's exponential growth of its mosquito population this year can be significantly altered for the better (and actually nearly eliminated if we really could get full participation, but I realize that is difficult). However, since mosquitoes live their entire lives in a very tight geographic pattern (often measured in yards or feet) around the location they emerged from their aquatic breeding site, *even if others don't participate, any efforts you make* *today and tomorrow may still significantly reduce* *your property's* mosquito load, and *any neighbor you mention this to today that takes a minute to check will also make your and their yard much nicer for the whole season. *

The more people that take just a few minutes today and tomorrow to pour out breeding sites for mosquitoes in their yard today and tomorrow, the better it will be for all of us.

*RIGHT NOW, the small number of surviving adults from last year that made it through the winter non-breeding period just got their chance to finally get in their first major breeding of this season.* Most nice pools of trapped water in our yards are likely filled at this moment with the mosquito larvae that represent the first and most significant pulse of breeding that determines what the later population curve looks like. Once it gets out, the number of mosquitoes in everyone's yards will be far more noticeable, and efforts to suppress their population will be much less effective.

A way of practically explaining this: If you think of how few mosquitoes we've had over these last few weeks of amazing weather that should have been warm enough for mosquitoes to be plenty active - that is because the small number you've seen is all that is left to breed right now too, and they likely just expended the largest reproductive effort they'll individually get a chance to get in during the last few days rain opportunity. (*If you have had mosquitoes becoming more prevalent already this year before this recent rain event, it most likely means that your yard or one of your immediate neighbor's yards is *actively* creating mosquito breeding conditions with some small water body intentionally kept full - imagine something like a poorly monitored birdbath*).

The sad news is that if breeding locations are easy to find in our yards, and remain undisturbed over the next few days, each one of those survivors from last year will mean hundreds and then thousands (or tens of thousands) of offspring this season. This is more concentratedly true this year than usual because we've had a dry spell through late winter and the early (functionally as far as the natural world is concerned) spring we've had.

*The early season breeding that is usually more spread out over time appears to have been unusually concentrated into the pools of water this recent rain just created* because there haven't been any real previous opportunities to breed and the surviving mosquitoes have been in a desperate race to get some breeding in before the mosquito predator load in the environment gets high over the next few weeks. Let's all nip this year's tsunami in the bud.

So again, it sure has been nice the last few weeks to enjoy our yards relatively mosquito free. If everyone takes 5 or 10 minutes to look for standing water on their property (gardening pots, pot bases, empty containers of any sort that have trapped rain, gutters with pooled water behind leaf dams, etc.), we all stand to benefit more per unit of effort today and tomorrow than at any other point this entire year.

Spread the word!

Oh wow, thank you, this is very helpful! What about swimming pools, should we be running the pumps full time right now to avoid this? What about bird baths?

Pools are fine due to chlorination. Bird baths are suspect. Change the water FREQUENTLY.

For bird baths, I would get mosquito dunks. You get them at garden stores or Amazon - Summit 20-Pack Mosquito Dunk.

Won't it hurt the birds, though?

Nope! It's used in koi ponds and livestock troughs. The bacteria is specific to mosquitos.

If I don't keep this in my bird baths, they become a MAJOR breeding ground for mosquitos. And each dunk covers 100 sq. ft of surface area, so I break one up and use it in a few bird baths, flower pots, the drainage ditch at the back of our property, any place that might hold standing water at any time in the future even if I empty what I can now. I keep pieces of one in a ziploc bag to use a bit each time I put fresh water in the bird baths. It is safe for birds and pets as well as other insects because it is specifically targeted to mosquitos.

I've heard of neighborhoods chipping in to do mosquito dunks. Every other house or so leaves out a bucket of stagnant water with a "dunk" in it. It's a bacteria safe for everything except mosquito larvae. Mosquitos lay eggs in it, eggs turn to larvae, larvae die, no mosquitos. One dunk lasts 1 month, and a 6-pack costs $10 at Home Depot. I'm sure they could be bought cheaper online. The thing is, it requires diligence from a lot of people to do.

It looks like if you buy the dunks directly from the manufacturer you can get a 100-pack for $98. http://www.summitchemical.com/mosquito/mosquito-dunks/ I suppose if enough people want to do it, that would be the most cost effective way of going. $1/month/household. From what I've heard it takes a majority of the neighborhood doing it to make a huge difference, but if we can get enough people on board it would be easy to take orders and distribute them. I think the hard part will be getting buy-in.

Bat houses. Not kidding. More local bats means less local bugs.

I flush my bird bath out every day. Mainly because I enjoy the birds and clean clear fresh water brings more birds.

I have rain barrels and have used the dunks religiously for years. That's the only standing water I allow in my yard.

Just don't forget, they don't need standing water; any regularly moist area will do. Like if you've got an accumulation of leaves under some shrubs that stay damp, or a compost bucket, those work for them too.

I use the mosquito dunks all the time in my pond, bird bath. You can make them go further and still effective by breaking them in half or quarters.

Plant saucers are notorious culprits.

This is a basic question, but I must ask it. If we clear standing water from our yards, won't the mosquitos still have to lay eggs, but just lay the eggs a few houses down? Would the dunks be better if they are going to lay their eggs anyway? Would the lack of standing water prevent mosquitos from laying eggs entirely or only from laying eggs in our own yard? I realize that this is a pitifully ignorant question.

No it's not. From my understanding, mosquitos either won't lay eggs due to lack of suitable environment, or they'll move along. I'm not an entomologist though, just someone whose husband gripes INCESSANTLY, so I looked into it a little. I think that's the idea behind the dunks I've heard about before, is that you give them a great place to lay their eggs, and they just don't realized its deadly to them. I'll try it this summer and let you know how it goes

So what about purple Martin houses? I know it will take a couple of years but they seem to really work

Purple martin houses is a good idea. But they are quite an investment. And given that we can't even get people to clean up dog poop, I don't see this happening anytime soon (sorry, don't mean to be Debbie Downer).

Is there a genuine interest and motivation to try to make this a neighborhood goal? If so, with the rainy season coming, I think we should "attempt" to create a plan of action sooner than later. It would be a great "neighborhood effort," but it would take "a village". I had no idea there was such a thing as mosquito dunks and how beneficial they can be. My guess is that others are not aware of their benefits either. As Sparkles conveyed in a previous comment, it takes action, not just talk. I am willing to contact the Health Department to see if they still provide free literature in bulk on mosquito control. A thousand years ago, the Health Department gave out lots of free literature, and with the new mosquito virus threatening serious birth defects, they may even be working on a serious mosquito program that may include air drops along streams and creeks. I am not sure if they still do vaccine drops for wildlife, but a 1000 years ago they did. My son can create a simple flyer that gives information about our neighborhood effort to control mosquitos, including using dunks; and depending on what we can come up with as a group, the flyer can include a convenient way to purchase the dunks....convenient being key. I am probably being overly optimistic that there will be volunteers on every street to print the flyers and then deliver the flyers and literature, but if that is the case, let's discuss options. Also, we can ask the MUD about purple martin houses. The MUD certainly seems to have a great interest in keeping our beautiful park great. They obtained grant money for the iron bridge, so money for good causes is out there. I personally don't know a thing about purple martin houses.

I agree that it would take a pretty high level of participation for mosquito dunks to make a real difference. And once we start talking about mosquito programs, that is definitely getting into the MUD or even the county. Like you said, the best way to start to get that kind of information or make that kind of request (or the purple martin request) is to attend a MUD meeting and make a request. They need a formal request in a board meeting before they act on anything. And so often people have all these amazing ideas, but just don't follow through with the MUD. There is a full meeting schedule on the MUD website and the MUD meetings are included in the master calendar on the RCNA website.

North Austin MUD Board Meeting Listing
RCNA Master Calendar

Additional Resources

http://bugofff.com/how-to-rid-your-yard-of-mosquitoes/

http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/dallas-zika-risk-may-be-greater-than-previously-thought-ut-researcher-says-8148279

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/public-health-partners/vector-control-us.html

https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/news/updates.shtm

http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/news/releases/20160303.aspx

http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/control-insects-bat-habitat.aspx

http://www.abirdshome.com/pm/myths.htm

Please check out the extensive mosquito information we have by clicking here.

If you have any additions, suggestions, or new information, please feel free to send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org so we can do our best to keep this page updated with the latest and greatest!

A local resident looked in to the semis parking on the streets. Here is a string of posts from facebook:

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I just wanted to follow up on this. I never did call the sheriff's office. After talking with the RCNA board and a MUD board member last month, I spoke with the County Commissioner's office and they said that there was nothing they could do, because it is a public right-of-way. The sheriff's office would also not be able to do anything about it, because there is no law against parking anything on a public right-of-way in unincorporated Wilco. The assistant to the Commissioner said that she might be able to get the County Engineer to do something about the trucks on Dallas Dr., because it intersects Parmer. (I never received a call back from the County Engineer.)

Texas Transportation Code 545.307 provides for subdivisions to ban overnight parking of semitrailers - the subdivision has to petition for the signs and pay for them but once posted tickets can be written, here is a link to the Code: http://codes.findlaw.com/tx/transportation-code/transp-sect-545-307.html

According to the code referenced above: "The residents of a residential subdivision may petition a county or municipality in which the subdivision is located for the posting of signs prohibiting the overnight parking of a commercial motor vehicle in the subdivision..." However, my understanding is that since we in the NAMUD1 are an unincorporated extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ, we do not qualify for "residential subdivision" status. Again - this is my understanding and I'd love to be proven wrong.

To this layperson, they specified exactly what subdivision meant in that part of the code, and there's nothing that says ETJ's don't apply. Wilco has more than 220k people (over double that!), we have plats and deed restrictions, and that's all that counts, in my opinion. YMMV.

I'm afraid the previous post is right about ETJs. Regarding NAMUD#1, I have had great luck talking to Jimmy Sagnus(?) with the MUD at 512-576-2671. He seems to know the letter of the law, but also seems to be aware of best practice and common sense solutions.

OK, did a little reading and it looks like an ETJ and subdivision are not mutually exclusive, the ETJ sets rules on the area that may someday be annexed and is the area adjacent to the City of Austin - it ensures that roads, structures, etc. are built to City standards so that there is not a lot of change that needs to take place should the annexation take place. In fact, the ETJ speaks of subdivisions within that area - so you don't have to be one or the other. As such, it appears we are still a subdivision that can petition for the signage - the question becomes whether to pertition the City or Williamson County? Probably hit both and see what the response from each is . . .

I think you're getting caught up in nomenclature. NAMUD#1 is an ETJ. ETJ is not an entity per se, it is just a descriptor. The MUD is made up of many subdivisions, as defined by the original developer (Bill Milburn in most cases). Each of us who are residents of the MUD can directly contact Williamson County, but we have no collective bargaining capabilities that way (unless you start a petition for a specific cause). Likewise, MUD residents can contact the City of Austin, but the City of Austin is not required to respond because we are not actually residents of Austin (although some residents of the Rattan Creek area ARE residents of Austin - but NOT residents of the MUD). Your most reasonable path to get Williamson County's attention is to ask the NAMUD#1 Board of Directors to petition WilCo. They can be contacted via email, or you can attend a monthly MUD meeting.

"""""

Here is the bottom line up to this point. The MUD has had their deed restrictions team and legal team carefully look in to this. There is really nothing we can do to prevent semi-trailers from parking in our neighborhood from a deed restrictions standpoint. The WilCo Sheriff's office has been ticketing derelict cars for environmental hazards, and has been checking, very carefully, all the business licenses and inspection papers for all the semi trailers parked overnight in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, there is no legal recourse that we, as a neighborhood through deed restrictions, can currently take to prevent semis from parking in the Rattan Creek neighborhood. The best bet is to attend a MUD meeting and ask the MUD Board of Directors to petition WilCo as described above for signage from the County. So, show up to the the next MUD meeting, request a 3 minute address to the MUD, ask them to petition the county for these signs, and keep showing up and asking until action is taken! Here is info on the MUD meetings.

If you have any additions, suggestions, or new information, please feel free to send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org so we can do our best to keep this page updated with the latest and greatest!

Who owns the fencing between houses? What determines whose fence it is, is what piece of property the fence is actually on? It is not determined by which “side” is facing “out”. Dig up your survey and figure out whose property it’s on. If it truly is on the lot line, you and your neighbors just have to come to an agreement. It’s nice if you can split the repair or replacement cost down the middle. if not, this is NOT a dispute the MUD or the RCNA can solve. Bottom line, ownership is determined by the property the fence is located on according to the surveys, and nothing else.

If you have any additions, suggestions, or new information, please feel free to send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org so we can do our best to keep this page updated with the latest and greatest!

Our sidewalks have not been maintained since the neighborhood was built. The MUD is trying to work with the county to repair our sidewalks, but the county is refusing, claiming that the MUD is responsible for sidewalk maintenance. This is an ongoing and lengthy legal battle, one that hopefully we be resolved in the MUD's favor, but it could still take a while. If there are any updates, we'll get them added here.

If you have any additions, suggestions, or new information, please feel free to send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org so we can do our best to keep this page updated with the latest and greatest!

Speeding along our neighborhood roads, especially Tamayo, Dallas, Osborne, Amasia, and Elkhorn Mountain, has been an issue in our neighborhood since the first houses went up, just like it is a problem in every neighborhood across the country.

Various remedies have been attempted over time including speed bumps, increased patrols and radar-controlled digital speed displays. Speed bumps in particular have been placed in the past. The speed bumps reduced the emergency response time to an unacceptable level - think ambulances and fire trucks - and were later removed.

While the RCNA & the MUD continue to brainstorm ideas for reminding and encouraging people to slow down, we ask you here right now - please slow down and take it easy in our neighborhood. There are too many kids and animals that are on the streets, and we want to avoid all preventable accidents. Save those higher speeds for the highways!

If you have some ideas for controlling speeding in the neighborhood, come to a MUD Board Meeting or RCNA Board Meeting and share your ideas!

If you have any additions, suggestions, or new information, please feel free to send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org so we can do our best to keep this page updated with the latest and greatest!

It is important to note that the crime statistics for our neighborhood are extremely low compared to most neighborhoods around us. The MUD pays for extra patrols in our neighborhood, and it shows. There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding crime, and the big source of that is confusion about our neighbhorhood.

Our neighborhood at one time was called Millwood, not to be confused with Old Millwood down Parmer on the other side of McNeil. Since then, our official neighbhorhood name has changed to Rattan Creek. However, not everyone realizes this, and still looks up crime statistics for "Millwood". These are NOT the crime statistics for Rattan Creek.

If anything, pulling up the crime statistics for Millwood, then pulling for Rattan Creek, will give a very clear example of just how low the crime rate actually is in our neighborhood, relative to surrounding areas.

If you have any additions, suggestions, or new information, please feel free to send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org so we can do our best to keep this page updated with the latest and greatest!

So why can't we get Google Fiber service in our neighborhood? It is because, even though we have an Austin mailing address, we are not part of the Austin City Proper. We are in the Austin ETJ, or Extra Territorial Jurisdiction.

Because we are in the ETJ and part of the MUD, we have a year round heated pool (which the City of Austin would never willingly support), and much lower property taxes that what someone who lives in the City of Austin proper has to pay. Unfortunately, for the time being, that means no Google Fiber. We can hope that Google Fiber expands out to us at some point in the near future!

Check out our page explaining our MUD if you want more info.

If you have any additions, suggestions, or new information, please feel free to send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org so we can do our best to keep this page updated with the latest and greatest!

If you have trees growing into your power lines, you want to call City of Austin Utilities. They don't really like other people to be around their power lines and they want to handle it themselves according to their own rules and regulations.

Here is a link to the home page of the City of Austin Utilities website where you can get their contact information.

If you have any additions, suggestions, or new information, please feel free to send an email to webmaster@rattancreek.org so we can do our best to keep this page updated with the latest and greatest!