Nick Barbaro has another confidently misinformed CodeNEXT post up. Most of it seems to be complaining about how long CodeNEXT has taken, and he also addresses the People’s Plan, a plan put forward to by activists that they hope will address gentrification in East Austin. The People’s Plan seems fine if kinda vague, but hey, let’s get the fun part where Nick Barbaro makes shit up about people he doesn’t like to mislead readers of his mediocre column.
Let’s start with him throwing out a falsehood against his least favorite council members:
Ironically, the council members who have been the loudest voices insisting on fast-tracking CodeNEXT, in the name of an affordability crisis – even though every testimony on the subject has warned that zoning has little direct impact on affordability – will be the same ones slow-walking proposals such as these, that promise direct and relatively quick impacts for those on the lowest rungs of the affordability ladder. (To name names, that would be CMs Flannigan, Casar, Renteria, and Garza. Prove me wrong.)
I kind of doubt that it will be these Council members dragging their feet more than any other. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong there, but he also throws in
even though every testimony on the subject has warned that zoning has little direct impact on affordability
I don’t know what testimony he’s referring to, but surely none of the testimony from AURA members over the years has supported that conclusion. There’s also basic economics and plenty of evidence that increasing housing supply can help stabilize prices, especially for older housing stock. Just this week we tweeted an article that described exactly that happening in Pittsburgh:
from the article:
“Quite simply, rent growth slowed in 2017 due to increased supply. Rent corrections are to be expected in 2018, but this will help support a healthy long-term outlook for the urban multifamily market.” Mr. Ackerman expects rents to level off, with increases ranging in the 1 to 2 percent range. In past years, rents in hot markets like Lawrenceville and Shadyside have been averaging increases of 7 to 10 percent, he said.
Perhaps more interesting is a question Barbaro poses about some vacant land in Austin:
City staff could indeed assemble a list of properties that could be made available for public housing; they did so for a soccer stadium, and many of the properties would be the same ones (McCalla Place, anyone?).
Hey that is good question! Why is there vacant city owned land near a transit corrirdor in North Austin that we haven’t covered in dense, afforable housing? Could it be that it’s in Council Member Leslie Pool’s District 7? If only we had tried to build affordable housing in this area before, maybe that would be instructive?
Ah yes, Elysium Park. Elysium Park was an all affordable development proposed just inside Leslie Pool’s district near the Domain. Although the project was timidly approved by the City Council, the required zoning request was quietly opposed by Leslie Pool and vocally opposed by Pool’s close colleague Celia Israel. Israel’s lack of support for the project eventually led to State affordable housing being sent elsewhere (not Austin). If you have any doubts about whether these two work closely, Pool was Israel’s campaign manager and Israel has donated to Pool’s campaign.
Barbaro’s own paper reported on the backstory of the project, and acknowledged that the exact Council Members he is now smearing in his misleading columns (Garza, Casar, Renteria) were the ones insisting on pushing the project forward:
the site is just barely in CM Leslie Pool’s District 7, and she made the motion to accept the developer’s request for an indefinite postponement while the company considers its next move. But Casar pressed his colleagues on whether they still supported affordable housing on the Northwest Austin site, as they had in February, when the project first came before them. “We talk a lot about affordable housing,” said Casar. “We talk a lot about being an economically segregated city, and this is a chance for us to do something about it. So I want to – before supporting a motion for any kind of postponement – understand that that’s the commitment of the council”…After the meeting, Casar issued a statement expressing disappointment in the council’s hesitation but thanking Adler, Garza, Gallo, and D3 CM Sabino Renteria for expressing continued support for the project.
Nick Barbaro is, quite frankly, full of shit. So is Leslie Pool. They don’t care about affordable housing in Austin.