by Jennifer Paris
The essay “What Happens When a Bunch of Rich People Move into our Neighborhood” really caused me to think a lot about what is important to me as far as our quality of life goes. I don’t think that I’m the person who has to solve Austin’s affordability issues, or our nation’s class struggles, but I absolutely will take on any threat of losing the intrinsic beauty of our awesome Allandale home that I have worked so hard to have and keep.
I have lived in Allandale since 1997, went to St. Louis school when I was young, (and Austin High school after that), and I grew up in a middle class family of two teachers. I am still in the middle class – at least I think I am. and I think I won the jackpot as far as being able to live in Allandale today. To be certain, I couldn’t afford to purchase my own house if I needed to buy it today. And the rising property taxes are absolutely shocking compared to what we expected when we bought our home.
But the author’s suggestions that we need to let the city add densification to our neighborhood sent me into an almost panic state. In fact, I intend to do my best, publicly or privately, to fight against any code changes that allow densification in our space, including the relentless chewing up of green spaces among our lots by certain developers and private owners. So, what’s in my craw?
Here’s a scene we all recognize:
Today is Sunday morning. I look out my window to see houses like my own, owned by people just tike me, those of my dear neighbors. I see my dear neighbors walking their dogs, talking about our yards, helping each other put up trash cans, standing in the street and talking about whatever it is that we all talk about. I get in my car and drive through our neighborhood, being careful to pass happy joggers and bikers without scaring them, smiling and waving at them, them smiling and waving back, all of us going slow near the school and the park because children are usually around there, seeing other folks I’ve met at our parks as we all go about our day. I stop at our HEB and remember why I shop there: people help each other around here, offering to trade places in line for one reason or another, chatting about daily things standing in the aisles, being the lovely, kind and well mannered Allandale Austinites that we are. On the way home, I pull over to take a daily photo of my favorite landscape in the neighborhood, looking at the sprawling trees and rolling lawns, gorgeously landscaped green spaces big and small, tree covered streets where each neighbor’s tree reaches out to hug and shelter me. I’m home!! Oh joy, how lucky we all are to be here!!!!! However we got here.
So, in regards to the article, I would say: Any rich person, or poor person, who wants to live here, or even invest here, in the “as-is” capacity: Welcome Home!! I can’t wait to meet you. To others who have agenda that conflict in any way with the scene I know to be my home, I say: Please… let me show you the way to anywhere else for your ventures. I whole heartedly wish you good luck, and maybe we’ll see you downtown sometime. Come and see us sometime and share in our peaceful and friendly space.