A Dense Discussion

Downtown density debate to unfold on dais tomorrow

A Dense Discussion
Photo courtesy Flickr user jdn [CC]

One City Council agenda item we neglected to mention Monday - because it deserves its own post - is the re-re-return of the Downtown Austin Plan. And we got a preview of philosophical disagreement over one of the plan's biggest sticking points – the Downtown density bonus program – at a council work session Tuesday.

We'll have more on the density wrangling in this week's column, but, suffice to say, the question over whether Downtown density itself is a benefit is as hot a question as ever.

Kathie Tovo and Laura Morrison sounded decided agnostic on the question, saying regardless of its community benefits (reduced sprawl, to name a big one), it still created a financial incentive for developers that should be shared with the city. Said Tovo, “When you have a developer who has purchased a lot to go 60 feet, and they’ve suddenly doubled that – there’s an increasing financial benefit to that developer. Some of that economic benefit should be returned to the public in the form of a community benefit.”

Lee Leffingwell argued that “the additional density, in and of itself, is a community benefit,” noting that “the Downtown area subsidizes the rest of the city” and “produces more money for services than they use … The calibration formula you come up with [for future density bonus projects] should address some part of the community benefit” density itself produces.

Taking a middle-ground approach was Bill Spelman, noting “On balance, I think the benefits [of density] exceed the costs.”

It'll be fun to see how much discord this presents on the dais tomorrow. We'll be live-tweeting the proceedings; in the meantime, bone up on the discussion by eying the presentation council received at their work session.

Density Bonus Briefing - Dec. 2011

HEY! Sign up for the Hustle's weekly e-mail newsletter, recapping news, politics and more every Friday. Don't worry, we'll never spam or sell your address. Visit here, enter your info, and click 'City Hall Hustle.'

Got something you wanna show the Hustle? Email it to wells [at] austinchronicle.com, tweet it @CityHallHustle, drop by the Hustle's Facebook or Tumblr page, or leave a comment in the section below.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More City Council
Inching Toward Higher Heights to Get More Housing
Inching Toward Higher Heights to Get More Housing
Advocates for low-income tenants urge a go-slow approach

Maggie Q. Thompson, June 13, 2022

Council Recap: A Balanced Budget, Without Much Drama
Council Recap: A Balanced Budget, Without Much Drama
But many hours of deliberation over two days on the dais

Austin Sanders, Aug. 13, 2021

More Development
#ATXLDC: And on the Sixth Day, There Was More Public Input
#ATXLDC: And on the Sixth Day, There Was More Public Input
Familiar hopes, fears shared at Planning Commission hearing

Austin Sanders, Oct. 27, 2019

AISD Taking Offers on Underused Properties
AISD Taking Offers on Underused Properties
Four buildings plus 75 acres up for new uses

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 3, 2016

More by Wells Dunbar
Top 10 City Council Stories
Top 10 City Council Stories
Dais and months

Jan. 6, 2012

City Hall Hustle: The Hustle Bids Farewell ...
City Hall Hustle: The Hustle Bids Farewell ...
To the beating hearts of a great city

Dec. 30, 2011


The Daily Hustle, City Council, Development, Downtown, Downtown Density Bonus, Downtown Austin Plan

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle