Austin’s Problems

That liberal blue dot in the middle of Texas (that everyone wants to move to) is an inclusive and progressive place, right? Actually not so much, considering the African-American population of the city dropped as the overall population grew by 20%.

To me, this is just the latest troubling facet of a city – which i still love dearly – but has clearly grown too damn fast and is a victim of reading its own press-releases. Lets take a brief tour of where we stand:

  • Affordable housing is a damned myth in this city, with voters nixing bond issues to support it and neighborhood associations engaging in trench warfare on increased density in the form of ‘granny flats’ – allowing single family homes to add small rentals or garage apartments on their properties.
  • We prioritize heath-care for musicians over heath care for children and the families in poverty. I appreciate the benefits of a music scene in this city, but this is just stupid and morally wrong.
  • Transportation has reached a mind-bogglingly inane level of incompetence – toll lanes on Mopac, but very little actual extra road, Toll projects that make no sense, a metro-rail alignment that – holy shit where do you even start with that? We’re going to build a $600M train to take everyone from Highland Mall to East Riverside, instead of the Guad–Lamar alignment that most people asked for?
  • We’re going to run out of water.
  • Looking at Transportation on a regional level should have started years ago – that anyone can look at I-35 and say, ‘hrm yeah, that seems like an ok situation,” is border-line insane. Regional rail is starting to come into the conversation, but honestly its five-years late.
  • Seriously, we are going to run out of water – why is no one else worried about this?
  • Back to the earlier point – Austin may actually be the most racially divided city in the state. Nobody likes to talk about it, and more importantly little is being done about it (see above).

Perhaps geographic city council districts (10-1) will be the start of fixing some of this, but as someone whose been here for 12 years of boom-town, it’s hard to see a place i love turned into another characterless urban jungle. Time will tell i guess if we can address our real problems and turn this into the real city it has the potential to be, or if we just continue to focus on keeping it weird for the sake of the tourists.