Should we Have a Customer-Focused CapMetro?

At the beginning of July, Capital Metro released two sets of data: one showing huge growth in revenue, and the other showing that ridership is declining in spite of that increased revenue.   Continue reading

Growing List of Organizations Join AURA’s Call to Legalize Backyard Cottages Across Austin

For Immediate Release Growing List of Organizations Join AURA’s Call to Legalize Backyard Cottages Across Austin AURA will host a press conference Tuesday, June 9th at 12 PM at City Hall June 9, 2015 Austin, Texas AURA, a grassroots non-profit that works toward an Austin for Everyone, is proud to announce the support of a broad coalition of organizations in the call for Austin City Council to allow Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)—known colloquially as granny flats, garage apartments, or backyard cottages—to be built by any homeowner in Austin. Continue reading

AURA Calls on Austin City Council to Fight Housing Crisis by Legalizing Backyard Cottages Everywhere

For Immediate Release AURA Calls on Austin City Council to Fight Housing Crisis by Legalizing Backyard Cottages EverywhereNew report released today demonstrates that new rules can create thousands of of new affordable homes June 8, 2015Austin, Texas AURA, a grassroots non-profit that works toward an Austin for Everyone, calls on City Council to adopt a comprehensive ordinance that gives all homeowners across the city the option to build a backyard cottage (also known as an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADUs). Simplified rules proposed by AURA will lower the cost of new small homes, allow more of them in every neighborhood, and help Austinites struggling with housing costs to get more revenue from their homes or to rent an affordable home. Continue reading

Statement on the McMansion Ordinance and the recent Planning and Development Review Memo

AURA, a grassroots group that believes in an Austin for Everyone, calls on the city council to rethink the McMansion ordinance.  As the memo from the Development and Services Department and the Planning and Zoning Department on May 1 clearly shows, the complexity of McMansion has added significantly to backlogs, and is in part responsible for the $1.6 million budget hike being proposed for the next calendar year in that department. Continue reading

AURA responds to CAMPO 2040 Regional Transportation Plan

AURA recently submitted a letter to the Capital Area Metropolitan Regional Planning Organization’s (CAMPO) Transportation Policy Board, in response to CAMPO’s 2040 Regional Transportation Plan. In the letter, which you can read below, we call on CAMPO to prioritize moving people—mobility—over  moving vehicles. We also question the funding priority given to road construction, given the plan’s own recommendations. AURA member John Laycock helped write the article and attended the April 8 meeting of the Austin City Council’s Mobility Committee, where he read the letter during Citizen Communications. Video of John speaking is below. John blogs about urban planning at The Theseus Project.

AURA Policy Paper on Accessory Dwelling Units

AURA has released a policy paper on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), better known as garage apartments, granny flats, or back houses. Allowing more ADUs to be built is a crucial piece of AURA’s advocacy for abundant housing in Austin. Our paper argues for a substitute ordinance that would be stronger than the one currently proposed  by City staff. Thank you to Cory Brown of our CodeNow working group for his work on the paper.  Want to help?  Join AURA today!

AURA suggests improvements to Housing Market Analysis

AURA welcomes the recent release of Austin’s 2014 Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis. The report provides valuable context into the state of the Austin housing market and a stark reminder of the depth of problems Austinites face in finding housing available. We particularly agree with the report’s recommendations for rapid reduction in regulatory barriers toward homeowners building accessory dwelling units (ADUs), a change we have led the push for. However, we are disappointed in both the depth of analysis offered and the scope of the recommendations. The recommendations would barely begin to address the housing crisis in Austin. We offer suggestions for the improvement of this report: Continue reading

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