According to a report by Michael Mazerov and Michael Leachman with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, cities should consider investing in local entrepreneurs rather than focus solely on tax breaks and subsidies for large out-of-state corporations. Rather, the report suggests that most jobs are created by in-state businesses, including startups and entrepreneurs. In the end, the authors recommend economic development policies that support these kinds of businesses.
Diverse options for affordable housing are a key tenet of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan. As the Texas Observer points out, NIMBYism can show it's face in so many ways, going so far as the desire by some State Legislatures to keep affordable housing options out of the backyards of more affluent neighbors. We've been through this before, and it never was and is not any kind of pathway forward towards the Austin and the Texas we all want to live in.
The Supreme Court has recently affirmed that communities cannot relegate affordable housing into the poorest neighborhoods. Everyone should have access to housing in areas with good schools, transportation, and jobs. Even though the case that lead to the Supreme Court's decision originated in Texas, our State Legislators are able to veto affordable housing projects in their districts. Unfortunately this affected our community just last year with Rep. Tony Dale wielding his veto at the behest of a single Austin Council Member. If we're going to follow through on the Imagine Austin plan, our community can't be in the business of exclusion.
Austin certainly has been shaped by its world famous music festivals - in both good and bad ways. From the public use of parks to the number of people visiting - then moving to Austin - music festivals like Austin City Limits and South by SouthWest are at the hear of change in Austin. CityLab interviews sociologist Jonathan R. Wynn about his new book, Music/City: American Festivals and Placemaking in Austin, Nashville, and Newport to find out how festivals are shaping some of America's most dynamic cities including Austin.
Are more lanes of traffic and wider freeways the answer to our mobility challenges? A Texas Mayor answers "no" and it's not from where you'd expect. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner took that message to the Transportation Commission in Austin this week calling for a "paradigm shift" away from serving single occupied vehicles that make up 97% of all trips stating that experience shows that "focusing on serving the 97% will exacerbate and prolong the congestion problems that urban areas experience." We hope you will take a few minutes to read and share this remarkable speech from Houston's Mayor and consider whether we might learn something from the experience that they've had with freeway building.
Whether hot markets like Austin effectively combat raising housing prices by adding supply is a contested question in many of the discussions around our land development code. Denver, another market much like Austin in high demand, has seen rents level off and dip in recent months. Analysis shows that added supply increased vacancy rates that lead to the dip in rents. With vacancy rates dropping even further there is possibly even more relief underway.
Following the recent controversy surrounding a Riverside Drive apartment complex demolition permit that displaced around 100 low-income families, City Council has taken a step toward establishing new rules to assist tenants in similar situations in the future. Council approved a resolution Thursday directing city staff to draft an ordinance that would establish “tenant relocation assistance requirements” for developers that intend to demolish multifamily properties that would result in the displacement of current tenants.
fforts to require developers to contribute more toward new parkland passed only on first reading during an early-morning conversation among Austin City Council members. Both sides of the debate agreed to increased parkland dedication fees and increased fees in lieu, which go toward developing new park space. However, some City Council members expressed concerns about a new formula that nearly doubles the amount of required parkland developers must dedicate.
The city of Austin’s Vision Zero task force plans to bring a proposed two-year action plan aimed at reducing the number of preventable traffic fatalities to City Council’s Dec. 8 work session. Frances Reilly, a planner with the city’s Planning and Zoning Department, said the number of traffic fatalities is now 84—he clarified that did not include recent fatalities that occurred during the weekend. The figure surpasses record number of traffic deaths from a single year—81 in 1986. “We can solve this,” he told members of the city’s Urban Transportation Commission on Nov. 10. “Traffic deaths and serious injuries are absolutely avoidable.”
In a tight race, Travis County voters defeated a proposal for $287.3 million in bond funds to build a new civil and family courts complex, or CFCC, in downtown Austin, according to unofficial results released Nov. 3 in a final report from Travis County. Voting results showed 50.73 percent of voters opposed the courthouse proposal, with more than 37,122 votes counted. According to Travis County tallies, 49.27 percent cast their ballots in support of the proposal, with 36,058 votes.
As we wait for Waller Creek's next Creek Show, Peter Mullan talks about the exciting opportunities this unique project affords. Austin loves its parks and trails, but there are still parks in our city with unmet potential. Take a look at what the Waller Creek Conservancy has planned to bring a new focus to this once overlooked space.
Mobility Week is a call to action for all businesses and community members: help reduce traffic through mobility solutions. During this week of collective effort, you can make a difference by taking alternative forms of transportation instead of driving alone. During the week of November 2nd-6th individuals as well as companies and their employees will try different commuting options, program ideas, and even steps to promote changing how they commute.
Last week's NACTO conference brought some great perspectives and new voices on better street design to Austin, but it's great to know that local voices are still taking part in the conversation even after our guests have left. Thanks to Jace Deloney for summing up this new shift in thinking about 'efficient' transportation into one simple question: "As Austin continues to grow, what would happen if we started focusing on moving people instead of cars?"
Change can be scary, but why do changes in density seem to be the scariest of all? ULI's recent panel takes a look at the issues that arise and the fear that density and growth can illicit when planning and development is pursued on a small scale without a larger, regional perspective. What happens to NIMBYism when people look at the bigger picture and plan for their city and region as a whole instead of bit by bit?
John Simmerman from Strong Towns weighs in on what it's like to be back home in Austin for all the excitement of NACTO's Designing Cities Conference and Better Streets Week. Make sure to check out all the free and open activities HERE to join in on the fun!
If you spend much time around Austin this sight might be familiar: A new building goes up, or a street is completely redesigned. Along with that development a row of young trees is planted along the sidewalk. Then, several months later, some of those trees are dead. KUT takes a closer look at why so many of these trees are planted and forgotten and what we can do to change the trend.
After a record breaking year of traffic fatalities here in Austin, City Council voted Oct. 1 to incorporate goals from Vision Zero, which seeks to go one year without any Austin traffic fatalities, into the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan. Find out more about the new safety initiatives and infrastructure updates that are being rolled out around town to make traffic deaths a thing of the past.