Friday, September 2, 2016
Business as usual #ATXCouncil makes things worse....
"A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,
But the simple pass on and are punished."
[Author's Note: Our testimony on the budget can be found at the 22:50 mark of part 4 of item 44 here.]
Last night, council made Austin's housing more expensive and telegraphed that nothing is going to change with regard to city spending.
By a 9-1 margin (Zimmerman voting nay, Troxclair off the dias), council adopted an ordinance (item 29) to impose vaguely defined 'worker protection' standards on some sort of 'expedited permitting process' that they want the city bureaucracy to develop in the coming months. If this sounds needlessly complicated, that's because it is. In other words, rather than simplifying the permitting process for everyone, they wasted time on obscure contingency planning for something that might happen at some point in the future.
Obviously, Austin's permitting process is a nightmare. Ann Kitchen correctly called it "dysfunctional" while Mayor Adler correctly noted that the current process adds to everyone's housing bill. Nevertheless, they both voted to make said process even more complicated.
We don't know where to begin on the budget. Suffice to say, with the notable exception of Don Zimmerman, council was oblivious to the consequences of their ongoing attempts to nickel and dime citizens. In other words, the status quo prevailed.
In our testimony, we pointed out that every single member on that dais campaigned on the issue of affordability. Yet they're moving forward with all sorts of tax and fee hikes. We suppose it isn't surprising, but it's still very disappointing.
We don't disagree with Mayor Adler when he says that housing costs are a bigger driver of Austin's affordability challenges than direct levies from the government. But taxes and fees remain a big part of the problem. And last night, they made both worse.
Bottom Line: The culture at city hall needs to change.