CodeNEXT Option 3 is the Affordability Option

At the November 6 Austin City Council meeting, the relationship of CodeNEXT to affordability was raised by Council Members Mike Martinez and Kathie Tovo. Council Member Martinez expressed interest in learning which of two CodeNEXT approaches, “Option 2” and “Option 3,” would make housing more affordable. AURA strongly believes that Option 3, which represents a more thorough revision to the code than does Option 2, is the approach that will yield the greatest household affordability for the city. Affordable housing can refer to two different concepts. The first concept is the plain meaning of the words: low costs, rents, and taxes necessary to acquire housing, whether that housing is provided by the private market or through public programs. In its other meaning, Affordable Housing (capitalized here for distinction) refers to important government programs that directly assist some residents with housing costs. AURA believes CodeNEXT Option 3 is a superior choice for both senses of affordable housing. Continue reading

Austin’s Voters Are Pro-Transit—And Against Bad Transit Plans

For Immediate Release Austin’s Voters Are Pro-Transit—And Against Bad Transit PlansAURA Vows to Keep Pushing for Expanded and Improved Transit Service for All Austinites November 5, 2014Austin, Texas AURA was disappointed when Austin’s leaders decided to put a bad rail plan on the ballot, but we’re relieved that Austinites voted for better public transit by rejecting the $1 billion road-rail bond proposition. From the beginning of the Project Connect process, AURA pushed for data-driven transit planning, but when the city’s own data showed the rail plan would hurt our transit system, AURA was forced to oppose. Continue reading

Why does Austin face the choice between no rail (for now) and bad

There are several points of view on the City of Austin ballot proposition, but other than the property owners and construction companies who hope to benefit directly, it doesn’t feel like anybody is actually excited about this roads-and-rail bond plan. The anti-tax and anti-growth forces predictably don’t like it. And a large number of pro-transit Austinites, like the members of AURA, believe that when given the choice between no rail and badrail, voting against rail is the right choice to save our transit system. We are concerned this plan will have long-term negative repercussions that could reduce overall transit ridership and hurt the credibility of transit with the larger public, like the low-ridership Red Line has. Continue reading

AURA Endorses Candidates in Austin Mayoral and City Council Elections

For Immediate Release AURA Endorses Candidates in Austin Mayoral and City Council Elections October 27, 2014Austin, Texas AURA is a relatively new organization on the Austin civic scene, but it is already having a strong impact representing popular support for our vision of a welcoming city with abundant housing and alternative transportation options. With Austin moving its municipal elections to November and instituting a geographically representative City Council, next Tuesday offers a major opportunity to elect leaders that can help continue to make that vision a reality. The membership of AURA offers these endorsements in Austin’s City Council elections: Continue reading

Many progressive frontrunners for City Council oppose Prop 1

This is part of a two-part series on the supposed ideological aspects of the city of Austin bond proposition (“Prop 1”). Today’s topic is opposition to Prop 1 among liberal candidates for City Council. The Let’s Go Austin PAC has tried to convince liberal and progressive Austin voters that the city roads-and-rail bond proposition (often referred to as “Prop 1”) is an ideological or partisan question. “Know whose side you are on,” the PAC says in a series of recent mailers that try to portray opposition to Prop 1 as a conservative cause. That message has failed to resonate with a vital audience: the leading liberal and progressive candidates for Austin City Council, a majority of whom are openly opposed to Prop 1. Below are listed the positions taken on Proposition 1 held by those candidates for City Council endorsed by at least one of four solidly liberal publications or organizations: the Austin Chronicle (AC), Burnt Orange Report(BOR), Workers’ Defense Action Fund (WDF), and Austin Environmental Democrats (AED). Continue reading

Is the Prop 1 PAC running a campaign for Republican Rail?

This is the first post in a two-part series on the supposed partisan or ideological aspects of the city of Austin bond proposition (“Prop 1”). Today’s topic is funding sources behind the Let’s Go Austin PAC. The second post will cover the widespread opposition to Prop 1 among progressive candidates for City Council. If you’re a registered voter in Austin, you’ve probably received a mailer from the Let’s Go Austin (LGA) PAC telling you to vote for the city’s $1 billion roads-and-rail bond proposition, informally known as Prop 1. As our readers probably know, we oppose Prop 1, and have spent the past two years showing why this rail plan is worse than nothing. Unfortunately, the LGA PAC has favored ideological attacks over a campaign on the merits of the plan. Therefore, we think it is now relevant to examine the funding sources behind the LGA PAC and its expensive campaign. As it turns out, a look at the relevant filings reveals that the LGA PAC is largely funded by deep-pocketed Republican donors. Continue reading

AURA urban rail working group releases System Crash Report

AURA’s urban rail working group has completed an analysis of the impact that the Austin roads-and-rail bond proposition would have on the city’s transit system. Their report, titled “System Crash: The High Costs of Low Ridership Rail,” estimates that the urban rail plan contained in city Proposition 1 would reduce Capital Metro’s system-wide transit ridership by 28 to 30 million boardings over the rail line’s first decade of operation. This is roughly equal to a  permanent annual cut of 10 percent of present-day MetroBus service.

Video from AURA candidate forums for Districts 4 and 9

Videos of the second and third of our three Austin city council candidate forums are now available on our YouTube channel. You can also watch them below. Continue reading

AURA’s Transit-Oriented Austin Pledge Press Conference

Good morning. My name is Niran Babalola, and I’m a member of AURA, a grassroots organization that fights for abundant housing and abundant transit for all Austinites. Continue reading

Red Line Subsidy Increase a Harbinger of Proposition 1 Problems

The recently approved CapMetro budget for fiscal year 2015 included an increase in operating subsidy for a single boarding on the MetroRail RedLine, placing it above $20.  In contrast, the average bus per-boarding subsidy is $4, but is closer to $1 on the most productive bus routes. “The operating losses we see for the Red Line are the same type of losses that will play out with Proposition 1 rail, but on a much larger scale,” said AURA member Kevin Miller. “The proposed route goes through low-density areas, but it has high fixed costs. The rail will siphon money away from bus service, reducing ridership and likely leading to cuts in bus service. Let’s not condemn ourselves to repeating another unforced error.” Miller is the author and maintainer of WorseThanNothing.org, a website that details the pro-transit argument against the road-and-rail package on this November’s ballot. Continue reading