Growing Weirder combines analytical frameworks, grassroots and treetops advocacy strategies, and public agenda framing necessary for a paradigm shift in the growth and development strategies of a complex, diverse 21st Century Austin.
What if I told you that you live in a major metropolitan region with a metropolitan government that controls around a billion dollars in spending every year?
What if I told you the seats of that decision making body were overwhelmingly over represented by white males and underrepresented by city residents?
What if I told you that radical sprawl forecasts chosen by that wildly inequitable body impact how much money your neighborhood or county gets in transportation spending from the state and local entities?
What if I told you that transit planning, traffic impact studies, or local school citing decisions all rely upon the faulty forecasts chosen by that inequitable body?
What if I told you that these regional decisions are making traffic, climate change, and affordability worse – all at the same time?
Zoning limits how many people are allowed to live within city limits placing an artificial cap on housing units capacity. This limit denies hundreds of thousands of people access to affordable, low-carbon lifestyles. Read our mini-report to learn about the current state of affairs, what CodeNEXT can do to help, and our vision for housing capacity in Austin.
Building outwards instead of upwards is an environmentally disastrous choice. Austin residents of denser areas are responsible for drastically less impervious surface per capita, the financial and environmental footprint of municipal infrastructure is more efficient for compact, connected development, and the redevelopment of wasteful land use within the city means the preservation of hundreds of square miles of Texas pastures, forest, and countryside.
Austin is in need of a multiplicity of strategies to address growing affordability and environmental crises. If we fail to responsibly plan for growth, low income communities and people of color will be disproportionally burdened with costs to their quality of life. Building off of successful models throughout the nation, we propose the establishment of an Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Fund to take advantage of the opportunity to make meaningful progress towards an Equitable Austin.
The affordability of a location is normally calculated with only housing costs. However, transportation is the second largest household expense. Throughout Texas, housing and transportation cost around half of typical local incomes. We divided Austin into urban, sub-urban, and rural areas based on population density and compared costs of housing and transportation in these areas as a percentage of typical median income. Bucking conventional wisdom, we found that urban areas of Austin are the most affordable.