As the City of Austin’s official demographer, it’s Ryan Robinson’s job to provide local officials with accurate information about the growth of our community—and he just blew the whistle on phony data being used to justify City Hall’s controversial rezoning plan.
Mayor Steve Adler and his allies have long argued that the plan must be passed in order to stimulate new housing construction. Otherwise, they claim the supply of new housing won’t be able to keep up with demand and Austin’s affordability crisis will continue.
Robinson disagrees. In a quarterly report posted on the City of Austin’s website, he pointed out that the amount of multifamily development currently being built in Austin is “simply phenomenal,” and that the idea that housing production is constrained by the land development code is a “false narrative.”
Here’s his full quote:
Austin’s multifamily market just keeps building momentum as yet another extremely large raft of incoming product was submitted for site plan review with the City of Austin during the fourth quarter of 2019, roughly 5,700 new units proposed within 28 different projects.
But the true pig in the python this quarter is the number of units to initiate construction, 14 individual developments containing over 3,800 new units—with another 3,400 units clearing the site plan hurdle and now eligible to begin construction. The amount of multifamily housing under construction right now within the City of Austin is simply phenomenal—a phenomenon running orthogonal to the false narrative that housing production within the City is somehow severely constrained by the City’s land development code.
In other words, the next CodeNEXT isn’t needed to fix the problem the mayor claims he wants to address. But that doesn’t mean the rezoning plan won’t affect Austin neighborhoods. Robinson hints at some of those effects here:
And even if the code were to be dramatically opened up with vast increases in entitlements, I’m just not sure we would see levels of production much above what we’re currently seeing—the pipeline of production must be nearing a maximum threshold of sorts.
The key phrase is “vast increases in entitlements.” Robinson is referring to the new types of structures that the rezoning plan will allow on residential properties throughout Austin (such as pairs of large housing units added onto lots that already contain single-family homes). These changes to Austin’s neighborhoods will have a definite impact on property taxes, compelling many financially squeezed homeowners to sell and renters to move.
That means City Hall’s rezoning plan won’t fix Austin’s affordability crisis, but it will make it much easier for predatory land speculators to snap up single-family homes, bulldoze them, and replace them with unaffordable multi-unit developments like these.
And that just might be what some of the plan’s supporters have been after all along.
Want to take action? Here’s what we recommend:
- Make Sure You’ve Filed an Official Rezoning Protest
If you own property in Austin, go to FileYourProtest.com and file an official rezoning protest. The process is easy, safe, and takes just 30 seconds. Once you’ve filed a protest, our legal team believes the City of Austin will be unable to legally rezone your property without support from three-fourths of the city council (9 of 11 votes).
- Consider Donating to Community Not Commodity
Help us educate and activate Austinites from every corner of our community. Make an online donation today!
- Contact Mayor Adler and Your City Council Member
City Hall needs to listen to its official demographer. Reach out to the mayor and council and tell them so—then demand that they hit the brakes on the rezoning train! Check this map if you aren’t sure which council member represents you.
Together we can build an Austin for everyone!