Density + Livability = Sustainability

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 31, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Thanks to Katherine Gregor for such a thorough job in her review of the proposed density-bonus recommendations for Austin [“Finding the Sweet Spot,” News, Oct. 26]. We are at a crossroads now in the debate of how we shape our city. We talk about how we have to become more dense to accommodate the waves of people that want to move here. We talk about how we want to be a sustainable and green city. We talk about creating a livable and affordable city. Density-bonus options are all about the art of balancing these elements. One simple idea is this: Density + livability = sustainability.
    Density-bonus options address the "livability" part of the equation. In the Density Bonus Task Force review of other cities, density bonuses supported a broad spectrum of community benefits in exchange for greater developer entitlements and increased density. In Austin, we are recommending that the following be considered for a density-bonus program: affordable and work-force housing, child and elder care, open space, pedestrian connectivity, transit, green building, historic preservation, saving of valuable community features, public art, cultural facilities and live music venues, and sound mitigation. These are the elements that continue to surface as significant community goals for making the dense areas of our city more livable and, therefore, sustainable.
    Thank you to the City Council for entrusting the Density Bonus Task Force with researching and bringing forward these recommendations. Also, thank you to the community leaders from all sectors that gave of their time and thoughtful consideration to a new density-bonus program for our city.
Eleanor McKinney
Chair, Density Bonus Task Force
Austin Design Commission
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