NIMBYs: a play in five acts

Hot off the presses from its original run in the North University Neighborhood Association yahoo group, I bring you: NIMBYs: a play in five acts.

ACT THE FIRST

NIMBY TO AUDIENCE THEY PRESUMED WOULD BE UNIVERSALLY SUPPORTIVE:

Barbara,

The press seems to have picked up on that one item. I’m an AIA member but didn’t participate in that project. While the teams looked at specific issues they looked at the areas around the sites but not the entire city map. As for missing middle, that will depend on specific zoning districts and not all will permit that. I believe that missing middle and transition zones need to be mapped as the space included in a deep commercial site (along Lamar, Burnet and other corridors) that can accommodate higher density near an intersection and some missing middle or transition housing (such as townhouse) between the commercial and existing single family areas. I do not agree with folks who think that missing middle should replace homes. Ultimately it will come down to a mapping exercise.

AIA also said the code is too prescriptive - the form-based building sizes and locations. That is a huge issue as it makes existing homes and other buildings non-conforming requiring variances for additions. I believe that also incentivizes demolition. The consultants said last night they are going to relax some of that so that is good news.

The consultants presented a more logical structure and nomenclature for the code which PC/ZAP members liked. That is going to help but we still have many miles to go to vet everything in this code and create appropriate maps.

ACT THE SECOND:

URBANIST:

"I do not agree with folks who think that missing middle should replace homes."

Missing middle ARE homes. That disconnect explains almost every conflict we're going to suffer the next few years over this plan.

ACT THE THIRD:

NIMBY:

Surely you can contribute to a conversation without taking things out of context! I simply said where I believe missing middle is appropriate which I do not believe is as a replacement to an existing home.

If you have an opinion of the best location for missing middle then say so. Would you demolish single family homes to put up 3 or 4 units? And if so where?

ACT THE FOURTH:

URBANIST:

I'm using your own words in precisely the context they were given. I will not apologize for doing so. You clearly do not view missing-middle housing as "homes". That is quite illustrative. Even in your follow-up it is clear you do not view missing-middle housing as legitimate homes.

As to where single-family homes should be demolished to allow 3 or 4-plexes, I would say in central Austin, where the property owner wants to do so. I don't want anybody to be forced to demolish their house to build a 3 or 4-plex, of course, just like I don't want people to be forced to build an ADU today. I also don't think we will make any serious dent in the gigantic supply/demand imbalance by only allowing missing-middle housing on the corridors.

Of course, you prefer the current zoning code, in which I am forced not to build an ADU even if I want one, for instance. That's the key difference. Allowing missing middle housing off the corridors would expand the number of options a property owner would be free to choose to build. They don't have to; you can keep your single-family house, just like my single-family house wasn't demolished when the property next door was replaced with a duplex.

ACT THE FIFTH (FINALE):

NIMBY:

Since you continue to assign opinions to me you have effectively ended this conversation.