Each week we ask readers to weigh in on a timely topic. This week we sought your input on Austin growth and affordability: “The Austin City Council is on the verge of raising height restrictions on residential development to help increase affordable housing supply; do you agree or disagree with this, and what other actions should the city take to make housing in Austin more affordable?”
Another hollow gesture that won’t
solve Austin’s affordability problem
Don’t kid yourself!
The notion of relaxing height restrictions in exchange for another hollow gesture by developers to solve the affordability problem is an insult to tax-paying local citizens.
We’ve all heard this before.
As long as Austin’s mayor and city council continue with the same unworkable solutions that only favor developers, no such shift toward more affordable housing will occur.
It has not mattered that Austin’s plan to revise the building code never passed when I see my Galindo neighborhood morph into mansions with giant auxiliary backyard units, three homes on a subdivided small lot, and towering duplexes next to the ’50s-style small home next door.
Dan Schulman, Austin
Raising maximum building height only
helps owners; city needs to lower taxes
The plan to raise maximum building heights will not help anyone but greedy site owners.
The obvious reasons for the fast-approaching mass exodus from our once-fair city are also rooted in greed and short-sighted planning that has raised the taxes for real estate to unrealistic heights at the same time the property values are multiplying out of control. No one who lives here can avoid this and a shocking percentage of the population is desperately seeking a new hometown.
The city needs to roll back the taxes, rethink plans that are too expensive, and fund their future budgets from the population expansion and valuations. Otherwise, get ready for a tax revolution that should put everyone at City Hall in the unemployment line. Fight to keep this your hometown, Austin!
Kerry Jaggers, Austin
It’s time to address the hypocrisy and
recognize the need for more housing
Austin is a city with a physical topography and geography that favors density. Austin’s development strategies favor density. Austin’s ethos of inclusion favors density and affordability.
Austin is not immune to its growth and the nature of growing cities with limited topography is to go vertical. Think Manhattan and San Francisco.
It’s time that city leadership addresses the inevitable and plans for affordable housing through the removal of height limitations and parking requirements.
It’s time the not-in-my-backyard-ism of neighborhood protectionism while preaching the need for affordability hypocrisy is addressed through additional housing.
As an advocate for affordable housing said about San Francisco, there is plenty of housing to be made available. You just have to allow it to be built.
Time to grow up, Austin, and recognize the inevitable future, and be thoughtful, proactive and true to the inclusive nature of our city.
Mike Kennedy, Austin
The unquestioned assumptions behind
the city’s approach to land use reform
Inside the city’s Trojan horse approach to land use reform lurk not enemy soldiers but these unquestioned assumptions:
1. The city excludes current citizens from the actual design of zoning changes. This could have built broader support for focused densification. This exclusion guaranteed that Code Next would fail. And it did.
2. Calling zoning changes by another name is good governance.
3. The city’s current approach to affordability is justified because it allows displaced citizens (at least those with higher incomes) to buy new homes (at much increased cost) in high-rises after having lost the many sustaining relationships of stable neighborhoods that are the lifeblood of healthy civilizations.
Albert Meisenbach, Austin
Austin housing costs soared, but city
affordability requirements did not
I’ve been developing affordable housing in Austin for nearly 30 years and I’m incredibly disappointed that the mayor and some council members continue to give increased entitlements to developers while sticking to affordable housing requirements of 10% or, in the recent case, a me 12%; that’s a 20-year old approach.
Housing prices and rents have tripled or quadrupled since 2000, when Austin’s first developer incentive program was implemented; shouldn’t affordability requirements have been increased during the past two decades as well?
Years ago, when our affordable housing crisis became critical, Austin’s City Council should have begun increasing affordable housing requirements to achieve what inclusionary zoning in other cities, similar to Austin, get without granting any additional entitlements.
Not-in-my-back-yarders may fear height and density, and it seems our city council fears asking for 15%, 20% or 25% affordability in exchange for handing more profits to developers. We’ve been losing valuable opportunities.
Mark C. Rogers, Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation Executive Director, Austin
Developers want to transform old
neighborhoods into ‘strip mines’
We are fighting the YIYBY (Yes in Your Back Yard) cabal of developers who want to turn existing old neighborhoods into lucrative “developer strip mines” and their willing partners, the misguided liberal city council.
The last time we had such a pact of developers, liberals and politicians, we were delivered so-called urban renewal, the massive destruction of downtowns and the replacement of minority neighborhoods with “projects.”
They destroyed the architectural hearts of so many towns. Now they’re returning to bayonet the survivors: our lovely old neighborhoods.
Ron Magnuson, Austin
Editor’s note: Some readers weighed in on other topics this week. Here are some of their letters.
Senate gun deal doesn’t go far enough;
gun lobby still has too much sway
Sen. Cornyn, this negotiation concerning guns is a giant step for you but a very small step for the safety of our schoolchildren. ,
The core issue is keeping AR-15-style riflesout of the hands of US citizens. Owning guns should require training, registration, background checks, minimum age and mental evaluations. An AR-15 is for killing people.
The gun lobby has taken over Congress. According to a Gallup poll, more than 50% of Americans believe gun laws and laws covering the sales of guns in the US should be more strict. There are many gun issues to deal with in the future. I hope you will be a part of this common-sense solution.
In Texas, Patrick, Cruz, Abbott and others do not care about children slaughtered in school! Their choice: Desired gun money or schoolchildren’s safety.
There are so many ways to allow safe and responsible gun ownership. Schoolchildren would greatly appreciate your help.
Richard Hatfield, Austin
Senate deal a good start but a
ban on AR-15s would be better
I was happy to hear after last month’s mass shooting that a bipartisan agreement has been reached on a modest gun reform bill that would improve school safety and mental health programs.
But tragically, until Republican lawmakers are brave enough to “just say no” to the National Rifle Association and ban military-style assault weapons with high-capacity magazines, a gunman armed with an AR-15-style rifle will still be able to enter a church, theater or school and quickly slaughter every man, woman and child seated within.
Sharon Autry, Fort Worth
Make gun ownership a privilege
based on training and patriotism
“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
The whole point of the Second Amendment is so we can support a well-regulated militia – one intended to secure our collective safety. I believe the solution is to connect the right to bear arms with the responsibility to protect our country.
I suggest the creation of the National Guard Extended Force. Every American who wants to own a gun would be automatically enlisted as part of this force. They would be certified on a yearly basis via an exam, with gun training, safety, and psychological components, verifying that they meet the basic requirements to serve their country in this capacity. The murderer in Uvalde would have never been worthy to serve in this unit, and 19 innocent kids would still be alive.
Zach Zivkovich, Austin
Tax dollars better spent on innovative
gun safety than hardening schools
The proposal to provide school districts with bulletproof shields makes as much sense as providing airline passengers with parachutes to address air travel safety.
The Texas Legislature appropriated millions of dollars in recent years to provide bulletproof vests and windshields in an effort, one presumes, to make everyone and everything bulletproof so as not to address the real problem – the proliferation of guns.
Abbott was unable to appreciate the irony of patting himself on the back for recentlaws to harden schools while holding a press conference after a mass murder of 19 children and two teachers at their school.
Intelligent and reasonable people in industry and government examined air accidents since the beginning of air travel and devised ways of making it safer than driving an automobile. Why can’t GOP leaders understand the importance of the gun issue and address it in the same way?
Lon Heuer, Austin
Cruz offers empty pandering
in face of horrific gun violence
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s message following the Uvalde massacre began, “Heidi and I are lifting up in prayer the entire Uvalde community… .”
As a 72-year-old gun owner, native Texan and your constituents, I would prefer that you lift up your hand and sign House Bill 8 in the Senate.
In 2021, a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll found that 71% of Texans and 61% of Republicans supported universal background checks on all gun purchases. However, background checks alone will not solve the problem. So after this background check law is passed, we will need red flag laws, magazine capacity limits and to increase the minimum age to buy any firearm to 21.
I am sick of your Christian-esque blabber, your deflection of the real problems with gun violence and your continuing do-nothing attitude.
As a Texas senator you are supposed to be representing me, so please do so.
David Voss, Dallas
Editor’s note: A bipartisan group of US senators has reached a tentative deal on a framework for modest gun reforms.
This week we’re asking readers: Do you think the steps are enough. If you’d like to see more, what should the senators address?
Send letters of no more than 150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon Thursday.