Around 2050, we expect to reach 50 million Texans. We need to be ready. The Fifty Million Texans project combines smart growth, inclusive regional planning, the paradigm shift in transportation planning, and modernizing local development codes into an equitable, sustainable vision for the future of the Texas metropolis. We are focusing on the Austin region for the first two years, and expect to replicate the entire campaign for each Texas metro region in the same manner over the next couple of decades.
- People get to live in this Texas metropolis forever
- Regional Transportation Plans optimize future growth scenarios to make people happier
- Local land development codes allow for long term sustainability
What we’re going to do
- Speak maps to power, gather and disseminate useful data and research
- Explain complex public policy issues in meaningful stories for the general public
- Empower citizens and elected officials to dramatically shift regional vision and policies
- Make the case for a dramatic shift to inclusive, walkable urban development
Our goals for 2019
- Produce an alternative growth scenario in GIS with meaningful policy proposals
- Open, iterative, public research and collaboration, through serious of events, publications, and partnerships with diverse entities across the region
- Alternative growth allocations around the region
- Analysis of transportation options given different growth scenarios
- Nurture the creation of an Equitable Transit Oriented Development Fund for the Austin region in partnership with governments, foundations, other nonprofits.
- Comprehensive, equitable rewrite of the City of Austin land development code
State Legislative Agenda
- Local options for transit, regional complete streets, active transportation, and decongestion
- MPO equity reform
- $35,000 minimal seed funding to attempt the above, $125,000 to do it well
- One half time staff member dedicated to Fifty Million Texans, ideally one full time staff member with interns, data, GIS, event, and communications support
- Effective working relationships with diverse nonprofit and community groups across region
50 Million Texans: Austin was called Growing Weirder in 2018. We combined analytical frameworks, grassroots and treetops advocacy, and public agenda framing necessary for a paradigm shift in the growth and development strategies of a complex, diverse 21st Century 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.
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.
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.
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.
Our small amount of funding for this project ran out, but we expect to be able to finish this final report soon.