Eastside Alley Flats Are Not a Good Thing

RECEIVED Mon., May 19, 2008

    Your apparently irony-free little blurb about Eastside alley flats being a good thing is way off the mark [“Naked City,” News, May 16]. Having lived near Huston-Tillotson for nine years, I've seen this once quiet, relaxed neighborhood turn into a flipping frenzy, with all the real old-timers (some here since the 1940s) getting the worst of it.
    The original, wise plan of a house with a backyard and plenty of green space to enjoy (or "underutilized lots,” as they're called) has now become a lot with two houses and no yard and a landlord in California or wherever else money needs to be made as quickly as possible (not just UT, as you suggest). There are usually no driveways (and these alleys were not meant to be streets, hello!), so all the new cars are parked out front (usually two per new shack). Some streets now have a line of cars all the way down both sides with barely room for one car to get by, let alone two. Soon some kid will run out and be killed and then we'll see how our zoners feel as they go to sleep, dreaming of maximum density/taxes.
    This town is fast becoming unlivable thanks to profit-driven schemes like this that masquerade as "smart growth" – for developer Will Wynn and his buddies, sure, but not the rest of Austin. Hell, why not just build three houses on every lot and a high-rise on every corner? Where does it end? Only when this town is 100% South Dallas, looks like; we're well on our way.
    I guarantee alley flats would be less welcome if every lot on the west side suddenly sprouted ugly new two-story tin shacks in a neighborhood of one-story wooden houses.
    Alley flats are a typical New Austin scam that makes the real estate weasels rich at the expense of an increasingly less great place to live for everyone else. Do we really want Anytown, USA?
    By the way, nice article on guns in national parks [“Armed and Ready for Nature,” News, May 9]. You may have added many more sane voices to the fray with that little piece and the contact info. Thanks for that, and your recent in-depth focusing on who is really benefiting from all our dumb growth. Keep it up!
Kyle Swanson
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