Thank you for the Chronicle
’s endorsement against Proposition 2 and for Michael King’s and Katherine Gregor’s thoughtful articles on the topic [“Point Austin: Unpropped,” News, Oct. 17
, “Developing Stories: Controlling Developers,” News, Oct. 24
]. To those readers who are still on the fence, allow me to reiterate that this charter amendment would have far wider reaching consequences than simply canceling the ill-conceived Domain deal. It would affect the ability of the well-conceived Mueller development to deliver on its promise and the city’s ability to shape future mixed-use development in the public interest.
Mueller is an asset to surrounding East Austin neighborhoods and the city as a whole. The innovative result of a public-private partnership with extensive input from Austin citizens, Mueller will provide more than 140 acres of public parks and green space; affordable housing for over 1,000 families, or 25% of the total housing stock; and a vibrant town center with at least 30% of the space reserved for local businesses. While tax-increment financing is exempt under Prop. 2, incentives tied to sales tax, even if used to pay for infrastructure in future phases, are not. If Prop. 2 passes, $12 million in bonds already issued would be canceled, and the 1,000-plus page development contract would have to be renegotiated. There is no guarantee that Austin would walk away with the same mix of benefits, including those that help local businesses.
By prohibiting financial incentives to projects with any retail components, Prop. 2 would severely restrict the city’s ability to encourage future mixed-use, New Urbanist developments. It may shape the redevelopment at the Green Water Treatment Plant, like Mueller, publicly owned land, where local government and citizens should have a significant say in the outcome of the project. It would hinder affordable housing incentives in other mixed-use projects. The charter amendment goes too far, and consideration of its implications is not a “no brainer.” Please vote no on Prop. 2.