Naked City

ECT Serves Up Its Vision

After more than two years of work, Envision Central Texas presented the fruits of its regional planning effort this week, releasing an ambitious and optimistic "vision" for a future Austin metro area that "absorbs and tames its growth by becoming taller and denser in places, greener throughout, and more connected – while keeping its unique sense of place and soul."

The vision reflects public input received through months of workshops, surveys, and focus groups, in which (in ECT's characterization) Central Texans "voiced a desire to see growth managed in ways that are very different in attitude, involvement, and commitment from what has existed until now" and "voiced a desire for more choices in their lives – in transportation, housing, and opportunities." That translates into more urban density, more environmental protection and open space, more affordable housing, more regional cooperation, and more transit. Much blood has been shed in Central Texas over these issues over the years, and decision-makers in the five-county region are bound in no way (other than via political pressure) to adhere to the ECT vision. The organization – which has brought together leaders from all sides of the growth wars to forge what it considers to be consensus – acknowledges that making the ECT vision a reality will involve lots of further dialogue and negotiation at the local level.

The organization's 73-member board plans further work to advise and assist local communities as they try (or not) to implement their part of the ECT vision. The ECT board has also formed subcommittees to tackle specific issues that cut across the region, including integrating transportation and land use, coordinating economic development efforts among Central Texas communities, and creating a balance of jobs and housing throughout the region. ECT also notes that much more work needs to be done on social equity – to "assist communities in developing goals that will close the gap for underprivileged and underserved populations" – and the group aims to be "an important resource and facilitator in this process."

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Regional Planning
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Katherine Gregor, April 9, 2010

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Envision Central Texas, ECT, regional vision

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