Austin Chronicle – Page 6 – That’s me (right side blue dress at the mic) talking to Mayor Adler at a Q&A at the High Road. I was surprised by the number of YIMBYs in the audience and was very thankful for their encouragement and kind words after.
This was my (roughly) comment and question to Adler :
The greatest issue threatening the character of our neighborhoods is creating a virtual gated community that only the rich can afford to move into.
You talk about displacement.
I would be willing to bet most people in this room purchased their houses did so when central Austin was much more affordable.
Change is coming if we want it or not. The old houses in our central neighborhoods are reaching the end of their useful lives and are going to be torn down and replaced. IF we do nothing to fix the code we are going to end up with nothing but a new $1.2m single family homes on each lot.
However, if we change the code we could get instead get 3 homes that are $400k each per lot instead of a single $1.2m home. It is possible to create more “affordable” units than what exist now.
Not helping to keep down the per unit price is the single greatest threat to our City and if the CodeNEXT does nothing else – it should ensure density across the board – in transit corridors and beyond. People don’t want to live on busy transit corridors they want to live in neighborhoods.
How do you, as the mayor, reconcile the struggle between existing home owners who want to prevent change, and the seeming civil obligation to preserve affordability in the free market by allowing more units to be built in the core of the City?
I was pretty nervous so I wasn’t 100% focused on the mayor’s response, but the part I did catch was something to the effect of “gray area” and there isn’t a black and white answer.
Also of note, I met the Executive Director of EvolveAustin (Andy Cantu) and really enjoyed chatting with him. He is a 4th generation Austinite (wow) and really sharp when it comes to land development and policy.