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Old 10-30-2012, 02:52 PM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,941,483 times
Reputation: 2546

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Quote:
Originally Posted by austinrebel View Post
Suppose I am against skyrocketing rent and housing costs that make Austin unaffordable to any but the well-heeled? It appears as Austin becomes more dense, it becomes more expensive. How are the musicians, the Yoga teachers, the checkout people at Whole Foods, the artists and the other people that make Austin cool supposed to afford to live here?
It is a complete myth that dense development somehow raises the cost of housing. In fact, precisely the opposite is true. Economics 101 - supply/demand curves.

If you are against skyrocketing rent and housing costs in the center city then you should be for density.

Austin has added a modest about of housing to the CBD and very little elsewhere - almost all growth is in the suburbs. At miles 0-7 from the city center, there has been very little growth. Almost all the growth is miles 7 - 23 (Pflugerville, Cedar Park, Kyle, Leander, Buda). As roads to the suburbs become increasingly congested, the demand to be in the city grows. But supply is extremely constricted.

By adding supply we meet the demand and alleviate the upward pressure on rents.

The reason rents are sky high is the available supply is extremely limited. I am on your side, I want to see lower rents for musicians and yoga teachers (and doctors and lawyers and everyone else that needs a place to live). The problem right now is that city regs and zoning and the ANC NIMBYs make it virtually impossible to develop multi-family in all but a select few corridors. The very few projects that get off the ground are expensive and must be very profitable to be worth all the headaches it takes to get developed right now. There is mere lip-service paid to the needs of lower cost housing by setting aside x-percentage of new developments for low cost housing. This will never address the real needs.

If Austin weren't so backwards about this, then you would see multi-family sprouting up everywhere, not just in the pre-approved and selected areas deemed acceptable by powers that be. And as new housing becomes available you would see the pressure on occupancy drop and rates dropping accordingly.

Last edited by Komeht; 10-30-2012 at 03:04 PM..
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Old 10-30-2012, 03:20 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
16,780 posts, read 43,379,136 times
Reputation: 9357
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark311 View Post
Isn't this really just about what the cheapest option is?

It's cheap and easy to use a "sprawling" model to build out a city. I hate that I have to buy low quality products from China every single day, but most of the time there isn't an affordable option. Go try to walk into any store and find a coffee maker that isn't made in China.

The easy and cheap route always wins out. The densest cities in the US were built up way before the cheap/China model became the norm. Any of the younger cities in the West including Austin started to grow too late. Somebody would have to lose a lot of money in order for the sprawl to stop in areas of new growth where a high density model isn't already established (either individuals, businesses, or taxpayers).

Just like it's not worth it for any companies not in China to make coffee makers, it's not worth it for most cities to promote density over sprawl because it's just too expensive and there aren't enough people that can afford the costs. I'm not saying that I'm for or against sprawl, but the only way that I can get a single family home in a safe neighborhood that feeds into good schools for under $200K is to be part of the sprawl. I don't like it, but just like everybody buying coffee makers from China, I do it because I don't think I have a better option that is affordable.
I agree, my wife and I are both professionals who worked downtown most of our careers. We would have loved to live near downtown instead of commuting, but we were never able to afford it. The only people I know in our age group who were able to afford to live near downtown, inherited the money they used to buy their houses. If you are doing it on your own, its not likely to happen for most people. Also during most of our 35 years in Austin there has been very little housing available downtown, the best you could hope to do was buy something close to downtown.
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Old 10-30-2012, 03:37 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
16,780 posts, read 43,379,136 times
Reputation: 9357
Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
It is a complete myth that dense development somehow raises the cost of housing. In fact, precisely the opposite is true. Economics 101 - supply/demand curves.

If you are against skyrocketing rent and housing costs in the center city then you should be for density.

Austin has added a modest about of housing to the CBD and very little elsewhere - almost all growth is in the suburbs. At miles 0-7 from the city center, there has been very little growth. Almost all the growth is miles 7 - 23 (Pflugerville, Cedar Park, Kyle, Leander, Buda). As roads to the suburbs become increasingly congested, the demand to be in the city grows. But supply is extremely constricted.

By adding supply we meet the demand and alleviate the upward pressure on rents.

The reason rents are sky high is the available supply is extremely limited. I am on your side, I want to see lower rents for musicians and yoga teachers (and doctors and lawyers and everyone else that needs a place to live). The problem right now is that city regs and zoning and the ANC NIMBYs make it virtually impossible to develop multi-family in all but a select few corridors. The very few projects that get off the ground are expensive and must be very profitable to be worth all the headaches it takes to get developed right now. There is mere lip-service paid to the needs of lower cost housing by setting aside x-percentage of new developments for low cost housing. This will never address the real needs.

If Austin weren't so backwards about this, then you would see multi-family sprouting up everywhere, not just in the pre-approved and selected areas deemed acceptable by powers that be. And as new housing becomes available you would see the pressure on occupancy drop and rates dropping accordingly.
I don't think it is Austin that is backwards about this. I think it is Texas property rights laws. A land owner and developer of a piece of land is entitled to develop it to its maximum economic potential, with very few limits. The City of Austin has very little authority to limit what the developer can do. And Texas is not a state that is likely to grant more authority to municipalities in order to limit property owners rights.

Also 20 years ago when a number of land developers started designing and planning to build many of the apartments and condo's that now exist downtown, there was a lot of skepticism as to whether there was actually enough demand for that kind of housing downtown to actually fill the numbers of units that were being planned. As I recall there were discussions in this forum 3 years ago speculating that there was too much housing being developed downtown and they would never be able to rent/sell them all.
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Old 10-30-2012, 03:45 PM
 
83 posts, read 410,049 times
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Just because Austin gains national and international significance does not mean it has to lose its character. I welcome positive changes and hope Austin continues to attract and foster better restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and culture.
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Old 10-30-2012, 03:48 PM
 
Location: Houston, TX
17,031 posts, read 28,024,637 times
Reputation: 16213
Saw a shirt last weekend that said 'Keep College Station Normal'
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Old 10-30-2012, 04:24 PM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,941,483 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CptnRn View Post
I don't think it is Austin that is backwards about this. I think it is Texas property rights laws. A land owner and developer of a piece of land is entitled to develop it to its maximum economic potential, with very few limits. The City of Austin has very little authority to limit what the developer can do. And Texas is not a state that is likely to grant more authority to municipalities in order to limit property owners rights.

Also 20 years ago when a number of land developers started designing and planning to build many of the apartments and condo's that now exist downtown, there was a lot of skepticism as to whether there was actually enough demand for that kind of housing downtown to actually fill the numbers of units that were being planned. As I recall there were discussions in this forum 3 years ago speculating that there was too much housing being developed downtown and they would never be able to rent/sell them all.
You have this exactly wrong. The city has broad powers to zone and limiting what property owners can do is precisely what the city does. Austin happens to be one of the most abusive cities in the country when it comes to overbearing zoning that prohibit development. Doubt me? Look at the the McMansion ordinance does. Still doubt me? Look at all the neighborhoods zoned as SF3. That means you cannot build multi-family, no matter how desirable or well conceived.
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Old 10-30-2012, 05:36 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,795 posts, read 39,776,427 times
Reputation: 24264
Kohmeht, when it dries out, I think you might want to consider a move to NYC. I think you'd likely be MUCH happier there.
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Old 10-30-2012, 05:41 PM
 
243 posts, read 229,040 times
Reputation: 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
You have this exactly wrong. The city has broad powers to zone and limiting what property owners can do is precisely what the city does. Austin happens to be one of the most abusive cities in the country when it comes to overbearing zoning that prohibit development. Doubt me? Look at the the McMansion ordinance does. Still doubt me? Look at all the neighborhoods zoned as SF3. That means you cannot build multi-family, no matter how desirable or well conceived.
OK. Can you tell me what changes in the City codes need to be made in order to increase the supply of reasonably priced housing in the core of Austin? Are there any politicians who support those changes?

I don't want to live in the suburbs. The suburbs are McAustin.
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Old 10-30-2012, 05:57 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX!!!!
3,765 posts, read 8,153,977 times
Reputation: 1760
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasHorseLady View Post
Kohmeht, when it dries out, I think you might want to consider a move to NYC. I think you'd likely be MUCH happier there.
Did he/she ever write anywhere that he wasn't happy here? I think just because a person has a criticism of a particular facet of a place doesn't mean that they are unhappy.
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Old 10-30-2012, 07:56 PM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,941,483 times
Reputation: 2546
Quote:
Originally Posted by austinrebel View Post
OK. Can you tell me what changes in the City codes need to be made in order to increase the supply of reasonably priced housing in the core of Austin? Are there any politicians who support those changes?

I don't want to live in the suburbs. The suburbs are McAustin.
Start with getting rid of SF zoning in the center city - everything between 183 and Ben White, Mopac to 183 should have the option of MF.

Bump up MF1 to MF2, MF2 to MF3, etc.

Get rid of highly restrictive parking requirements, in dense cities not everyone needs or wants two spaces. Having to build parking lots for people who wont use them is nonsensical.

Impervious cover restrictions make sense in environmentally sensitive areas - this does not and should not include the center city.

Kill the McMansion ordinance - it's driving families with children to the suburbs.

Stop doing stupid crap like the red-line designed to take people out of central Austin. Build urban rail instead that is local.

Oh - and lower taxes. The high tax burden is another massive problem that drives people outside the city.
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