Austin Has Missed the Mark Toward Zero-Energy

RECEIVED Thu., March 20, 2008

Dear Editor,
    In its visionary campaign to become zero-energy, Austin has missed the mark by making the McMansion ordinance a pro-sprawl code. Besides the obvious concerns I have as an architect about its prescriptive nature for residential design and aesthetics (issues better left to designers), my chief concern is its nonsustainability resulting from its density limits. How could a city that so proudly hails its green credentials fail to have put this sprawl-making ordinance under more environmental scrutiny? Disallowing density means people move outward rather than inward, creating more sprawl, roads, traffic, congestion, and air pollution, all while chewing up the very green space that we rely on to aid in sequestering all the mess we've created. Is it really possible that we have cast aside our visionary mayor's call-to-arms for the sake of "neighborhood character," for the sake of NIMBY-ism?
    I would sooner walk past several bad McMansions in my own neighborhood than sacrifice Austin's environmental future. At least McMansions can be remodeled.
David Webber, AIA
Webber + Studio, Inc.
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