Housing in East Austin: Land Availability and Transportation

RECEIVED Sun., May 4, 2008

Dear Editor,
    There are two reasons why so much affordable housing is being "dumped" in East Austin [“Postmarks,” May 2]. The first is (obviously) the availability of affordable land, and the second is transportation.
    Bus riders complain enough about the range and frequency of buses, but the fact is that the bus "system" is a lot worse in West Austin than in East Austin. We could perhaps double the Cap Metro sales tax and improve the buses in West Austin to East Austin service levels, but it would be much better for bus riders to just double the service levels in East Austin (and North and South Austin, too).
    We could also double the road budget, widen Manor Road, and upzone the properties alongside for condos and McMansions, which would presumably raise surrounding property values enough to pay for the increase in the road budget. That way the neighborhood would be helping to pay for its own destruction.
    Any neighborhood that compares itself to Hyde Park or Tarrytown is being disingenuous at best – those aren't typical Austin neighborhoods.
    The trailer park planned for along 183 really needs to go where it's going – there isn't any place else that is both so isolated from surrounding residents and so close to a bus route. The property on Manor Road could go anywhere along the north/south bus routes or even be incorporated into one of the new transit-oriented developments.
    However, East Austin neighborhoods deserve their share of growth, and they should seriously consider the advantages of affordable housing with people who ride the buses. The neighborhoods getting affluent newbies with fast cars and big trucks who will soon be demanding road improvements haven't been all that happy about it either.
Kirk Becker
Homeless neighborhood association
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