We’ve made progress on permitting reform. According to a poll, satisfaction with the Development Services Department — the City department that issues permits and conducts inspections — has increased dramatically since the Zucker Report was released two years ago. In addition, the Austin Monitor reports that Development Services are issuing more than twice as many residential permits as they did two years ago. Continue reading
A key part of any change agenda this year has to focus on affordability. We must make Austin affordable for people who live in Austin, and we need to build ladders of opportunity for communities that historically have been cut off.
If we’re going to change in a way that promotes affordability the Austin way, first we’re going to have to have a clear-eyed talk about housing and housing supply. Where we build it, where we preserve it, where we keep it affordable, and how we make it easier to remodel and to build the housing stock we need.
We also need to harness the power of the current real estate market to prevent the loss of affordable, middle-income apartments. Last year, I said we were going to join in the work being done in the community to create a strike fund to buy and preserve and protect some of our existing workforce housing before we lost it to gentrification. This year, I gathered a group of real estate investment and housing experts to create a socially responsible investment fund to preserve that portion of the workforce housing in our city. This was to be done as a market driven investment — neither subsidized nor philanthropic and not at taxpayer cost.
Tonight, I’m happy to announce for the first time that the group we convened has created a non-profit called the “Affordable Central Texas.” This will be the operating company that will administer the private investment fund to be called the “Austin Affordable Fund” that will purchase and preserve middle-income housing.
We are working with investors now, and before the end of the year, I fully expect that the Austin Affordable Fund will make its first purchase and begin to protect long-term affordability in Austin.
There’s no rule that says we have to keep having the same planning and zoning fights over and over again.
(Actually, for all we know, there really might be such a rule in the land development code. I mean no one can be completely sure what’s in it.)
This year, we will rewrite our land development code. There are going to be few things, if any, that are as important as this project.
It is also critical that we change the land use code in the Austin way.
CodeNEXT, the name we’ve given to the land development code re-write process, is a huge opportunity for our community.