Big-Picture Development Needed

RECEIVED Tue., June 3, 2008

Dear Editor,
    Re: “City Sweeps Its Problems to East Austin” [“Postmarks,” May 30]: One thing that unnerves me is the entitlement felt by some Austinites who attend a lot of the city meetings and hate development. I'd like to remind you that you're speaking for those of us who can't go. Yes, there are probably a lot of us who want to keep our houses and lawns, but many of us will never afford that. Many people don't have the gas money to drive to these meetings and say, "Please increase the fares so that I can pay $40 per month for an expanded, reliable transit service instead of paying for the maintenance of an automobile." There are a lot of people who are working two or three low-paying jobs who don't have the time to go to a meeting and say, "Please put white-collar jobs in my neighborhood so that people with diverse incomes move into my neighborhood and maybe some banks will serve us and delivery places will deliver to us." Developers aren't all big, evil corporate people, and they give people jobs. Maybe you'd like to explain to the contractor with three kids why you just postponed putting him back to work because you want to see the park. Or perhaps you'd like to explain to the bartender whose tips (and income) have been reduced because you "don't like all that racket" of the live music scene. Constructive conversation is necessary because this isn't some campaign that'll get rowdy for a while and then quit: This is our town we're discussing in these meetings. Houston has been destroyed because there weren't enough conversations about density and smart growth. There are many experts that say that Houston will never, ever have the option of expanding a rail line or truly promoting density. I don't want Austin to turn into Houston because some people shut down the conversations with folks who could help. You all are having the conversations for the people who can't. Money is power, and to whom much is given, much is expected. Look at the big picture, not just your portfolio.
Stephanie Webb
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