Monday, October 31, 2016

"Cataclysmic" Money: The Biggest Hidden Danger of Adler's "Corridor" Bond

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

At yesterday's rally, Roger Falk made an offhand comment about the 'redevelopment' scheme embedded in this bond that, having had a night to sleep on it, strikes us as unintentionally profound; we didn't record his exact words, but a rough paraphrase below:
The mayor's office is trying to portray the opposition as nostalga tinged old folks who don't want Austin to change, but nobody has any problem with organic change, we just think it's a terrible idea to inject all this 'redevelopment' money into a small geographic area all at once without meaningful public input.
This is a point we hadn't verbalized previously, but it encapsulates our biggest fear about the bond's impact on the "corridors."  Obviously, Austin needs 150,000 new units of housing and condos/apartments have to be a major part of that mix.  But there's a gigantic difference between new construction that comes from eliminating zoning restrictions and 'redevelopment' subsidies designed behind closed doors between the Mayor's office and rent-seeking real estate cronies.

In 1961, Jane Jacobs wrote:
[D]ensities should be raised -- and new buildings introduced for this purpose -- gradually rather than in some sudden, cataclysmic upheaval to be followed by nothing more for decades.
Beyond the obvious corruption, that's the biggest problem with the 'redevelopment' aspect of this bond:  Injecting this much money into this small of an area all at once will overwhelm everyone except the pre-existing big players.

Bottom Line: Between its cost, the city transportation department's inability to execute this complex of a project, and the shady process by which this package was developed there were already plenty of reasons to oppose this proposal; to further inject massive quantities of centrally-planned 'redevelopment' money into a small geographic area in a short period of time cannot lead to anything good.

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