Following up on yesterday’s excitement where I got involved in the McMansion debate on an austin neighborhood planning email list, angina infertility pointing out that the rationale used to justify adding MORE rather than LESS regulation of what people do with their property is shoddy, epilepsy
and in which I accidentally mailed something to the whole list which I meant to send offline to one person in particular, for which I then had to apologize, to which I then received a snarky, obnoxious, rejoinder that I might want to read the Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan (which I printed out and have had on hand for 3 or 4 years now, as I’ve done with all center-city neighborhood plans, since, heck, I was a committee chair on one back in the day),
to which I then wrote this mean, mean, mean retort…
Today, I call your attention to the Planning Commission recommendations for the issue. Note how few of the items listed have anything to do with drainage.
Here’s a radical idea: If the problem being addressed here really is “drainage”, i.e. storm sewers, and it MUST be, since the center-city neighborhood associations who pushed this through used the DRAINAGE EMERGENCY as the justification for their immediate moratorium, why not attack the actual problem? Here’s a simple idea. (Using single-family here; multi-family fees would require another formula).
- “Normal” drainage fee on monthly utility statement = X (today’s amount).
- Adjust for size of single-family lot. Larger lot = bigger fee.
- Adjust for amount of impervious cover, by percentage. More greenspace = smaller fee.
- Adjust for on-site detention such as rain barrels.
That’s all it would take. Anybody who wanted to live in a McMansion would be faced with a higher drainage bill. Anybody who lives in an existing house which has similarly large impervious cover ALSO pays. Make these multipliers high enough that they generate enough money for the necessary drainage facilities, and you then have a way to harness the power of development to solve the actual problem.
I wonder how interested in this actual solution to the DRAINAGE!!!!!! EMERGENCY!!!!!! the center-city neighborhood associations will be. Any guesses?
I should probably start adding this disclaimer: M1EK hates McMansions more than you do. M1EK just doesn’t like punishing property owners who don’t want to build a McMansion but might want to build a bigger house. M1EK is especially pissed off by people who use bogus excuses to hide what they really want, which is to keep ‘those people’ out of ‘their neighborhood’. M1EK is even more especially pissed off by neighborhood associations whose leaders bleat about keeping housing affordable, yet have resisted every multifamily development in and near their neighborhood for years..
After discussions with a few like-minded folks, drugstore I’ve created a group on yahoo called austin_urbanists. Some of the readers of this crackplog might be interested in joining.
Jeff Wood, information pills in the middle of a thread on lightrail_now where I’m trying to once again prevent Lyndon from wriggling off the hook, this site just posted a link to his thesis on Austin rail transportation politics in which I’m quoted a few times. A good summary for those still interested in the issue.