by Mary Rudig
Editor, North Austin Community Newsletter
Dear Austin Growth Machine,
I get it, I do. The mayor, City Council, and CAMPO have written you a blanket check to do whatever you want to my city. I get that the lobbyists for RECA (Real Estate Council of Austin) are more important now than the wishes of voters, and Project Connect is far more concerned about what big money wants, rather than what the average citizen needs.
You have also made it abundantly clear that CodeNext is your thinly-veiled plan to turn Austin into the next Vancouver, by using zoning changes to price out long-time residents in favor of more affluent (and more taxable) out-of-towners. (See: Vancouver zoning reform)
And of course, any attempt to raise my voice in protest is met by your bullying tactics to call me names so I will sit down and shut up. (RECA resolution that proposes to scrap most zoning rules, labels opponents NIMBY)
You’re right. I am one of ‘those neighborhood people’. I am an ‘anti-growth ANCer’. I am a ‘NIMBY’.
A plan to cram 750,000 more people into Austin? No, not in my city — until you show me a solid plan for how we will provide water to those people:
Growth built on a plan to bulldoze the trees that cool our neighborhoods and stabilize the erosion we have around our creeks and watersheds? No, not in my city:
A $600 million rail bond by our Mayor that’s all about providing the 7,000 people in Mueller (whoops, I mean ‘the Highland Corridor’ ) transportation options other neighborhoods won’t get? No, not in my city:
Spending millions of tax dollars on capital projects and incentives to support the growth machine, while not providing enough affordable housing? No, not in my city:
Growth policies that incentivize gentrification? No, not in my city:
Championing luxury housing that excludes children, while pricing out senior citizens and the working class? No, not in my city:
Indiscriminate reductions in minimum parking requirements all along commercial streets, that push cars onto side streets and make those streets less safe for pedestrians? No.
Using redevelopment to push long-term residents out of Austin in favor of the more affluent? No, not in my city:
You are absolutely right – I am a NIMBY. Here’s what I would like Now In My Backyard:
- housing that doesn’t systematically exclude families, and that’s affordable to the working class, middle class, senior citizens, and the disabled.
- development that actually follows the rules of good urban planning. Development that includes mixed transportation, diverse housing stock, green spaces, sidewalks and hike and bike trails.
- transportation that addresses the needs of every Austinite, not just neighborhoods hand-picked for the privilege by developers and our Mayor. This means providing east-west routes and connections, cheap and plentiful transportation options for North Lamar, Guadalupe, and Riverside, and some actual solutions to the dearth of mixed transit west of Mopac.
- zoning changes that create child-friendly neighborhoods, lower housing costs for our families, and keep long-term residents in their homes
- development that is willing to shoulder its fair share of infrastructure costs, instead of asking for incentives and zoning waivers, while still expecting the City to build the sewers, storm drains, electrical grid, roads, and sidewalks.
So yes, you are right, I am a NIMBY. I don’t want growth – not until that growth improves the lives of people already living in Austin.
BTW, for a free-market rebuttal that supposedly would get the same results, consider this article at Keep Austin Wonky. (see: The Problem with Austin NIMBYnomics).
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