AURA Response to the Project Connect Vision Plan

AURA, a grassroots organization that believes in an Austin for Everyone, got our start doing transit advocacy. In 2014, we worked to improve the previous Project Connect plan. Unfortunately, our data-driven input wasn’t accepted, which led us to oppose the overall 2014 bond because it would unsustainably increase the per-rider cost and would lead to an overall reduction in ridership. We’ve hoped that this round of Project Connect goes better, and so far it is. We appreciate the data and analysis that went into the corridor selection, that there has been more transparency in general, and particularly that the Orange Line seems like it could be a transformative high-capacity transit line. Our approach to Project Connect this go-around is to call for strong corridor selection, careful selection of mode, and a focus on more sustainable future for Capital Metro by limiting unproductive and inequitable expenses while increasing the transit agency’s income. A key way to do this is by focusing on reducing the per-rider cost for new investments, which frees up funds to accommodate more riders. A focus on a high-quality transit network for Capital Metro will increase equity, focus the fight on climate change, and improve the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Continue reading

AURA Statement on Police Oversight, Transit Justice, and Vision Zero

AURA believes in an Austin for Everyone, and one of the main ways our city can do that is by finally desegregating our neighborhoods. That will mean that everyone can afford to live in the neighborhood they want to live in, and that the place is designed so that they can. A big part of a place being “your” neighborhood is that it feels like home. That’s why we’re in favor of implementing an Office of Police Oversight in Austin as quickly as possible. The Office should ensure that information about critical incidents or policy violations be released to the public so that public confidence in the police and police safety can be improved.  Continue reading

AURA Statement on 2018 Elections

AURA is a grassroots, all-volunteer organization that advocates for an Austin that is inclusive, open to change, and welcoming to everyone. Our members worked hard for candidates and ballot propositions in the City of Austin that share this vision. We hosted two candidate forums We knocked on thousands of doors, including three days of action for endorsed candidates We handed out thousands of fliers at the polls We participated in advocating for a huge affordable housing investment from the very beginning, including letter writing with Habitat Young Professionals. This hard work paid off, and we are very pleased about the results of this election. More than 60% of voters in Austin endorsed a pro-housing mayor.  Prop J, which would have tied our city’s hands in addressing everything from our housing crisis to climate change to gentrification, failed despite its proponents’ fearmongering and dishonesty. And last but very much not least, Austin’s largest affordable housing bond ever just passed. Austin is for everyone.   Continue reading

AURA supports dockless vehicles

AURA has joined with Bike Austin, CNU Central Texas, Environment Texas, Vision Zero ATX, Walk Austin, and TexPIRG to send the following letter to the Austin City Council urging the city to increase protected bike/scooter lanes to meet the high demand, and decrease conflicts between street users:   Continue reading

AURA endorses in 2018 elections

AURA has completed endorsements for Austin Mayoral candidates, City Council candidates, and ballot propositions. Endorsement is determined by AURA member vote. We held two candidate forums in May and August and asked candidates to fill out a questionnaire—responses available here. For Mayor and City Council, AURA's members endorse: Continue reading

AURA applauds CapMetro's Bus Enhancement Plan

AURA is pleased with the CapMetro’s announcement of a renewed focus on the user experience of the bus system. The staff presentation at the June 25, 2018 CapMetro board meeting mentioned an array of improvements, including stop upgrades, schedule optimization, and service reliability. We are especially excited for shelters that actually shelter: shade screens at bus stops are essential in a Texas summer. (Or a Texas Fall, or a Texas Spring, for that matter.) But, after years of a focus on suburban and “choice riders” it is refreshing to see commitment to the city’s humblest, most important transit mode. Continue reading

AURA Hails Start to Dockless Pilot, Calls for Enhancements

Austin began its pilot program allowing dockless bikes and scooters in May, 2018. Despite the limits placed on deployment during this period, the pilot has powerfully demonstrated the potential of tiny vehicles to give Austinites greater mobility, augment the reach of the Capital Metro transit system by solving “last mile” problems, and take a giant leap toward achieving Austin’s Big Jump goals. If Austin is to be as innovative, progressive, and forward-thinking as our reputation and own self-image, we must “go big” on this innovative new low-carbon, low-cost, zero-pollution mobility option. There are two major fixes to the pilot program necessary for it to achieve its full potential as a learning tool: Continue reading

AURA Condemns Ken Paxton's Lawsuit Against Austin Planning Commissioners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 5, 2018 Austin, Texas — AURA released the following statement today about Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s recently-filed lawsuit against eight individual volunteer members of Austin’s Planning Commission: AURA is appalled that Fred Lewis and Austin’s anti-housing groups have succeeded in enlisting Attorney General Ken Paxton to target Austin’s all-volunteer Planning Commission. The slap in the face to hundreds of hours of work by dedicated volunteers is intolerable. Continue reading

The Case For CodeNEXT’s Elimination of Conditional Overlays

We strongly support CodeNEXT’s proposed elimination of “conditional overlays,” commonly called COs, as a tool for future rezones. As explained below, COs greatly complicate the City of Austin’s zoning process, significantly increase costs, and require extensive lot-by-lot rezonings that detract from the City Council’s ability to focus on broader land use planning decisions appropriate for a legislative body. They are a vestige of a highly transactional zoning culture that keeps Austin from pursuing its larger vision and goals. Continue reading

Broad Base of Community Organizations Announce Support for $300 Million Housing Bond

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 8, 2018 Austin, Texas — In response to Austin’s housing crisis, fourteen local community organizations announced today their support of a $300 million housing bond for the City of Austin this fall. The endorsing organizations include the following: AURA Austin Democratic Socialists of America Austin Justice Coalition ADAPT of Texas Austin Cooperative Business Association Austin Tenants Council Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association Family Eldercare Friends of Austin Neighborhoods Left Up to Us Texas Alliance for Retired Americans Texas Appleseed Texas Low Income Housing Information Service Workers Defense Action Fund These organizations advocate for a broad variety of issues including criminal justice reform, immigrant justice, low-wage workers’ rights, transit, and more.  They have joined together in support of the largest housing bond ever proposed to support Austin families and prevent further displacement. A $300 million bond will provide thousands of homes for working class families, help struggling homeowners stay in their neighborhoods, and will create thousands of construction jobs with wage and safety protections. Continue reading