Poll shows how we’re split over CodeNext and what issue can bring us together

What do you think of CodeNext? It may depend, as much as anything, on how long you’ve been in Austin.

While the legal wrangling plays out at City Hall over whether to put a CodeNext-related item on the November ballot — a subplot with legal questions almost as complex as the rewrite of the land development code itself — I went searching for indicators of what the public actually thinks of CodeNext.

True, more than 32,000 people signed petitions supporting a ballot initiative that would allow voters to decide the fate of CodeNext and similar zoning overhauls, an indication many are concerned about the issue. But as Uber and Lyft can tell you, gathering enough signatures to put something on the ballot doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have enough votes to prevail on election day.

The most revealing glimpse I found on CodeNext attitudes comes from a poll commissioned by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. This scientific survey of 501 Austin residents found 45 percent favored CodeNext and 36 percent opposed it. With 19 percent unsure, a decision could swing either way.

EDITORIAL: With no good options, City Council faces dilemma over CodeNext

Most notably, the poll shows a stark difference in support for CodeNext based on how long people have lived in Austin. Support for CodeNext is 63 percent among those here less than a decade, and just 27 percent among those here more than 35 years. The opposition counts just 23 percent of the less-than-10-years crowd — and more than half of the folks here longer than 35 years.

Now, you may quibble with the pollster’s wording of the question, which described CodeNext as an effort “to rewrite the land development code and rezone certain areas of the city … in order to create more diverse housing options and increase density” in Austin or select neighborhoods. The question waves at the expected positives without acknowledging critics’ concerns about the potential displacement of longtime residents and the disruption to established neighborhoods.

And the poll, conducted in December by Baselice & Associates with a 4.4 percent margin of error, is no doubt a few months removed from the pulse of Austinites now. Even so, the results provide a helpful map to the fault lines in the CodeNext debate.

The poll showed Democrats supported CodeNext 2-to-1, while only a third of Republicans did. Predictably, support was stronger among the folks who said they believed in planning for future growth, and tepid among those who would prefer no growth at all.

The length of time people have been in Austin struck me as the most useful prism for understanding the debate, though there are exceptions to the trends. I’ve talked to some decades-long residents who champion CodeNext, and you can count me among the newcomers (I moved here five years ago) who aren’t yet sold on the plan. Still, in broad strokes, it helps to understand people on the other side of the divide.

RELATED: CodeNext foes are done with compromise. They’re going for the kill.

Most of us recognize Austin is a vibrant city that will continue to draw newcomers (there’s no hope, as the joke goes, of building a wall around Austin — and making California pay for it). It’s not a question of whether Austin will change, but in what ways, and to whose benefit?

I don’t think most longtime residents want a city frozen in amber, but they do want the neighborhood they’ve invested in to retain its feeling of home. I don’t most think newcomers want to knock everything down, but as we’re searching for housing, it’s clear to us that much, much more of it is needed.

And here’s where the poll provides some common ground: 85 percent of those surveyed agree that “Austin has an affordability problem.” (I’d love to meet the 15 percent who aren’t feeling the squeeze.) Devise a CodeNext draft that can address that overarching problem, providing more of the affordable units new residents need without physically or financially pushing out longtime residents, and the city of Austin might get more of us on the same page.

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Will Amazon’s HQ2 home be the old Motorola campus?

Eightfold Development of Austin has proposed its campus in East Austin for Amzaon’s HQ2 headquarters and envisions a main building in the shape of Amazon’s Alexa cloud-based voice device.

Austin is cited as one of the key cities for Amazon’s secondary headquarters, known as HQ2, that the company wants to build somewhere in North America. But even if the Austin City Council came up with the financial incentives to lure Amazon – and successfully hurdled the politics of awarding publicly-financed tax abatements and other sweeteners to a rich outsider – there would be the question of where Amazon could locate in Austin, given its gigantic footprint and many preferences.

After all, the e-commerce behemoth has not been shy about detailing the perks and features it expects from communities bidding on its $5 billion project that is projected to generate 50,000 jobs. And Austin leaders, while expressing their huge interest in luring Amazon, also have been clear about their preference that Amazon fits with Austin values and not the other way around.

In addition to incentives, Amazon is asking for “an urban or downtown campus, a development-prepped site,” adding “We want to encourage states/provinces and communities to think creatively for viable real estate options, while not negatively affecting our preferred timeline.”

And that’s not all. Amazon wants to be within one to two miles of major highways, with a building or buildings that can initially accommodate up to 500,000 square feet by 2019 and up to 8 million square feet (33 buildings) beyond 2027. And that’s not all.

Amazon wants to be near, within 45 miles of an airport, have restaurants, retail, cafes and other amenities on its site. It also wants access to public transportation on its second-home site.

There’s more, but that alone is a big challenge for Austin in providing those features on a site within minutes of downtown.

On Tuesday, I toured such a place. A place that time had forgotten, but is being revitalized and readied for Amazon – or something else. It’s the old Motorola plant and campus at 3501 Ed Bluestein Boulevard in East Austin.

Set off the road on 100-plus wooded acres, it is less than five miles from downtown and about six miles to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Within 12 months, the site will yield about 500,000 square feet of office space with a potential of 5 million to 9 million square feet ultimately as it is built out. The latter will require zoning variances to build taller than the 60 feet now permitted.

Touring the campus is a throwback to Austin before the city was discovered by Formula One, Apple, Google and the hordes of hipsters that have relocated to the city. Then, Austin was laid back, weird and, goodness knows, affordable. A single mother of two, as I was in the late 1980s, could rent a house in East Austin and still put food on the table.

Developer Adam Zarafshani of Eightfold Development is touting the campus for Amazon, but makes clear even without Amazon, the campus, an ugly duckling when Eightfold acquired it, is being transformed into a swan through an $800 million, five-year redevelopment.

Where now there are abandoned buildings under renovation and redesign, he envisions a mixed-use community, complete with an urban farm, cafes, wellness and health clinics, computer labs and space for arts organizations and other nonprofits. He says he already has partnerships with Huston-Tillotson University, Austin Free-Net and Fusebox, a nonprofit arts organization, which will lease space or get it for free. It will be, Zarafshani says, a city within a city, with about 3,000 housing units, many that would be rented at rates teachers can afford. And it will be sustainable, with 75 percent of its power coming from solar energy, he says.

It’s the kind of development that compliments East Austin rather than insults it. It won’t displace long-time residents or drive up neighborhood property values, since it’s in a part of town known more for industry and commerce than for homes and neighborhoods. And most of the buildings are being renovated rather than raised. There will be a museum on site telling of Motorola’s history in Austin, featuring many items, such as an old cappuccino machine and era furniture, reclaimed from the renovation.

There are panoramic views and trails. And the campus has an Austin Energy power substation that was built for Motorola. And the Capital Metro Green line – that proposes to connect Austin with passenger rail service to Manor and Elgin – runs alongside the southeaster corner of the property.

With so much competition – upwards of 200 cities in the United States and Canada – vying for Amazon’s HQ2 project, it’s anyone’s guess which city will prevail when Amazon makes its decision next year. Even if Austin beats out the competition, there is no guarantee Amazon will choose the Eightfold site. But bids are due on Oct. 19 and Eightfold believes its development would be just the right fit.

Perhaps. But with or without Amazon, the old Motorola campus is being revitalized, rebuilt and repurposed. After a 12-year sleep, it’s a welcome awakening.

 

Commentary: Why East Austin article inflamed, hurt Latinos and African Americans

For more than 50 years, East Austin was a neighborhood, home to the overwhelming majority of Austin’s African American and Latino families. Schools, community newspaper offices, barbecue and taco joints, beauty and barber shops, clubs, Mexican restaurants and storefronts that sold everything from hair supplies to groceries, filled out neighborhoods with brick and wood-frame homes, libraries, public housing and shot-gun shacks. And goodness knows, there were churches on nearly every other corner.

East Austin had its problems with crack houses, drug markets and other crime as the city and police department looked the other way and steered resources west to prevent crime and vice from crossing Interstate 35. Nonetheless East Austin was home to vibrant neighborhoods with people who looked out for one another, held block parties and crowded into churches and parks on weekends.

I know because I moved there in the late 1980s as a single parent with my children. Though I have moved north, I still attend church in East Austin.

But you wouldn’t know that East Austin, given the description in a advertorial neighborhood profile appearing in the Homes supplemental advertising sections in Saturday’s print Austin American-Statesman:

“A decade ago Austinites would rarely dare to venture to the east side of the I H 35 corridor. Though the city has never been home to truly seedy or sinister areas, going east of the highway prior to the mass gentrification of downtown was not advised. However, now that the neighborhood has been purchased by California investors and trendy millennial homeowners, East Downtown is one of the city’s most desirable locales.”

With that, another knife was plunged into an open wound. It’s no wonder social media blew up with criticism:

“Dear Austin American-Statesman: You need to do A LOT better than this. I know you’ve had staff reductions but surely someone there knows that following the City of Austin’s 1928 Master Plan, by law Blacks and Mexican-Americans were forced east across what is now the I-35 corridor. There have been families and businesses there long before it was “East Downtown.”

That was posted by A.J. Bingham, founder and principal at The Bingham Group, an Austin-based government and public affairs consultancy.

Such advertorial or “content marketing” articles are commonly published by newspapers in advertising supplements such as the Statesman’s Homes section. In some cases, the articles are paid by a specific advertiser, such as by a subdivision looking to sell homes. In this case, it was one of a series of neighborhood profiles in the Homes section and not tied to a specific advertiser. To keep the editorial and advertising efforts independent, advertising supplements are run by the advertising department, while news and editorial coverage is handled by the editors and reporters in the newsroom.

Regardless of how it came to be, the newspaper apologized for the article via social media on Saturday night and in print on Monday.

I can’t speak to the creation of this particular advertorial, but I can speak to why such words cut so deep.

It starts with understanding the city’s history and its part in displacing people of color with policies, such as the city’s infamous 1928 zoning initiative referenced by Bingham that moved African Americans out of neighborhoods, such as Bouldin Creek, Wheatsville and Clarksville, as well as the Sixth Street business district by essentially forcing them to move east of I-35, mostly north of Lady Bird Lake.

That was enforced by denying black people city services, such as utilities, unless they lived in East Austin, and imposing restrictive covenants to ban them from other neighborhoods.

Redlining and other similar discriminatory policies also led to barrios for Hispanic families.

In the past two decades as Austin’s growth exploded, East Austin suddenly became valuable real estate because of its proximity to downtown, walking distance to the Capitol, downtown hotels, bars, shops and businesses.

So the city and its powerbrokers, helped by local and out-of-state developers, turned their sights on East Austin, moving swiftly to buy out landowners and build new houses, businesses and condos, forcing out out many longtime residents who could no longer afford skyrocketing property taxes.

Many properties that owed back taxes were sold on the courthouse steps for far less than their market value. Other homeowners,  unknowing of the city’s and developers’ plan to create “East Downtown,” sold out — tired of living in an area neglected by the city, Austin school district and business leaders. In selling out, they aimed to give their families a better life in neighborhoods with better schools, parks and city services.

Ironically, the old Johnston High School campus, now Eastside Memorial High School, a predominantly Hispanic and low-income school, is slated to house the mostly white and affluent Liberal Arts and Science Academy if the school district’s $1.04 billion bond election is approved by voters in November.

Gentrification — or the second mass displacement of Austin’s people of color — has been in full swing for about two decades with much success. Many community leaders now are trying to save what little they can of East Austin as mass media continue to erase and rewrite the history of Austin’s black and Hispanic residents.

The Statesman’s advertorial inflamed those conflicts and deepened the hurt of people facing a white-out of their culture and history in this city.

And for the record, it’s not “East Downtown” or “The East End.” It’s East Austin.

 

Note: This blog was updated  to correct the date the advertorial ran in print.

Rainey bar incident reminds us hate lurks, even in Austin

Hate has no place in Austin. It has no place anywhere.

Yet we know it lurks and it simmers, boiling until it explodes, jolting us out of our comfort zones, letting us know in no uncertain terms again that it is there, always there.

We were reminded of this again this week when reports surfaced about racially charged and sexist social media posts allegedly coming from the accounts of a Rainey Street bar. Patrons also complained about anti-Semitic imagery.

Unbarlievable on Rainey Street. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

On Wednesday Brandon Cash, the owner of Unbarlievable, apologized for what he called his “intolerable actions,” issuing this statement:

“To those who I have hurt and offended, I am deeply sorry. My words and actions were wrong, inappropriate and inexcusable. They certainly don’t exemplify the values of a community that I love and care deeply about and my insensitive actions do not represent the views of my loyal and dedicated employees.”

One hopes Cash’s apology is sincere.

Earlier, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said it is investigating Unbarlievable over an unspecified incident in March involving language and imagery, KVUE reported.

I’ve heard some say that this proves to us once more that racism is alive in Austin, a city that would like to think it is an exceptional model of tolerance. But we’ve known this for a long time; we don’t need to be reminded again.

Yet, for all the handwringing we do about what incidents like this say about Austin, we should remember that for the most part, our city is a place that welcomes the stranger and the person who might not look like us or vote like us or worship in the same place we do. For every instance of the kind of thing that happened at a Rainey Street bar, there’s more examples of tolerance we can hold up, like the congregations of many denominations across Austin who consistently stand by efforts to bring undocumented immigrants into society.

We can’t begin to understand what goes on in the minds of those who believe they are innately endowed with superiority based simply on the color of their skin, or on their national heritage or their religion, their money or anything else. Our nation holds central the right of free speech, but we also have the right to call out hate and intolerance. Those who took to social media, news conferences and protests this week were right to do so. We should send messages to our community and to our children that we uphold and cherish tolerance and civility.

We should not forget either that the intolerant messages emanated from Rainey Street, for decades a peaceful, working-class Mexican American neighborhood. Now it is one of the city’s busiest entertainment districts, oddly located alongside one of Austin’s cultural jewels, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.

The center and the old Chicano barrio were there first, and to many long-time Mexican Americans here, Rainey Street has become a symbol of gentrification, consistent with 1920s city decisions that pushed minority communities east of the highway. Now many older Latino families there are having to move out because they can’t afford East Austin’s soaring property values, propelled by the arrival of new wealth, new condos, new bars and restaurants.

I heard one local radio host say this week that there are greater things to be offended about, and he’s right — there’s a lot in this world that should have us hanging our heads. But we don’t get to be the arbiters of what offends others.

Among the vile images that allegedly surfaced this week was a photo making light at the expense of a Latina toddler selling gum, her eyes brimming with hope. Innocent children can’t begin to comprehend the plight of their circumstances and the depths of poverty that places them on a street corner, trying to eke out a few pennies for their families. You’ll have to understand how an image like that might throw hot water on open wounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for our 2016 endorsements?

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

Early voting for the national and local elections starts October 24 and while the Editorial Board is not endorsing in the presidential race, we are weighing in on some very important issues facing Central Texans.

There’s no doubt that by now most Americans know how they’ll vote on the main ticket this presidential election, but local races are just as important — if not more so, some will argue — and deserve voters’ attention. It’s at the local level that the Editorial Board has decided to focus and dig a little deeper, providing both analytical editorials on some of the most pressing issues coupled with Q&A’s with candidates who will take on these issues if elected. Below, you’ll find a list of the races and issues we’ve chosen to weigh in  on.

So whether you choose to head to the polls next week (early voting ends Nov. 4) or decide to wait for Election Day on Nov. 8, we encourage you to make it through to the end of the ballot and cast as an informed vote as much a possible. (BTW: Need more info on Austin City Council Candidates? Don’t know who represents you? No problem. Use the Statesman’s City Council Candidate Explorer to answer your questions.)

Presidential Election:

Mobility Bonds Election:

Travis County Sheriff race:

Travis County District Attorney race:

Austin City Council District 2 and 4 races:

Austin City Council District 6 race:

Austin City Council Districts 7 and 10 races:

Austin Community College Board of Trustee races:

Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees races:

 

And of course, you can get full election coverage here: Statesman Elections 2016

 

Denying Rosewood historic zoning belittles its value in black history

Residents and others look on during a presentation at the Texas Historical Commission hearing on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. The meeting was to discuss on the nomination of the Rosewood Courts which is the oldest black housing projects in the country according to the national registry of historic places (RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN- STATESMAN)
Residents and others look on during a presentation at the Texas Historical Commission hearing on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. The meeting was to discuss on the nomination of the Rosewood Courts which is the oldest black housing projects in the country according to the national registry of historic places (RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN- STATESMAN)

Celebrating Black History Month is more than just participating in feel-good events, where people hold hands and sing, “We Shall Overcome.”

It’s about educating people about the contributions as well as the struggles of African Americans during times when people and their local governments relegated black people to second-class citizenship — if that. It’s a dreadful, but beautiful, history of a people who have overcome, but not yet arrived, it seems, considering the unequal treatment and decisions by city of Austin officials in too many matters.

Among the things at the top of that list is the city’s disparate treatment of Rosewood Courts in denying it historic landmark status. Rosewood Courts in East Austin clearly meets the city’s criteria for such, but was rejected by Austin’s Historic Landmark Commission based on a negative recommendation by the city’s Preservation Office. Those organizations have a long history of granting historic landmark status to properties of dubious historic value, but not to the Rosewood Courts housing project, which meets and exceeds city criteria for historic zoning.

Austin was a segregated city when Rosewood Courts opened in 1939 as the nation’s first federally funded housing project for African-Americans. Along with nearby Santa Rita Courts, initially for Hispanics, it is among the country’s oldest public housing projects constructed under the 1937 Housing Act, research shows.

City preservation officials have looked the other way to accommodate the local Housing Authority, which has its eye on Rosewood for redevelopment, which would increase gentrification in an area already suffering from massive displacement of black and Latino families. The housing authority is using its political influence in Austin and in Washington with the federal Housing and Urban Development Department to have its way, and in the process, run over many Austin elected officials, community leaders and clergy who represent African Americans.

The Austin City Council has an opportunity to right that wrong on Thursday by approving City Council Member Ora Houston’s resolution to initiate historic zoning for Rosewood Courts. It is co-sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Council Members Sabino “Pio” Renteria and Leslie Pool. This would be a fine time, during Black History Month, to finally acknowledge and affirm Rosewood Courts’ historical relevance.

I wrote about Rosewood’s rich history and the case for its historic preservation. You can read a counter view from my colleague Ken Herman.

Local Austin resident Bob Ozer, a leader in the fight to preserve the Lion’s Municipal Golf Course in West Austin, detailed equally important reasons to grant historic status to the Rosewood Courts in a letter to Mayor Steve Adler and the Council:

Dear Mayor Adler and Council Members Houston, Tovo, Pool, Renteria, Zimmerman, Kitchen, Troxclair, Garza, and Casar:

I am writing in support of Agenda Item 48, the resolution supporting the nomination of the Rosewood Courts housing site to the National Register.

For me, of particular interest in reading the nomination for the National Register listing was the role Rosewood Courts played in bringing modernist housing design for workers originating in the Bauhaus in Germany to the segregated black community of Austin in the late 1930s. The Bauhaus, of course, was closed in Germany under pressure from the Nazi regime shortly after Hitler came to power in 1933. The modernist style exemplified by Bauhaus was considered “degenerate” and many members of its faculty were exhibited in the “Degenerate Art Exhibit” held by the Nazis in Munich in 1937. In contrast, in this country the style was being adopted by an important New Deal agency of our federal government, the United States Housing Authority (USHA), to promote affordable housing for African Americans who had been displaced from West Austin largely through the power of local real estate interests as implemented in the 1928 Austin Master Plan. Aside from Lyndon Johnson, one of the principals in this process was Nathan Strauss (the son of a German Jewish immigrant and co-owner of Macy’s department store empire) who was the administrator of the USHA.

Hence, in Rosewood Courts you see in microcosm the marshaling of our national will to respond to the destitution of the depression and racism as a precursor to the national will and might we marshaled to defeat Hitler’s racism and fascism in Europe. This history represents a past we should be reluctant to forget and eager to embrace today: That of a nation resolved to forge a path of decency, fairness and equality for all our citizens now just as we tried to do over 75 years ago with Rosewood Courts.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully,

Bob Ozer

Council should go big on affordability crisis

The city has landed an affordable housing deal that requires Brookfield Residential to make 1,000 new housing units in their 10,000-unit Easton Park development available as affordable housing. The first phase for 188 single-family homes is under construction. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
The city has landed an affordable housing deal that requires Brookfield Residential to make 1,000 new housing units in their 10,000-unit Easton Park development available as affordable housing. The first phase for 188 single-family homes is under construction. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

What truly constitutes a crisis in Austin?

That is a fair question, given city leaders’ feeble response over the past several years to Austin’s affordability crisis. At best that response has been incremental, lacking the big ideas or major repositioning of resources required to address a crisis.

The current City Council, led by Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Kathie Tovo, has taken steps to provide a meaningful homestead exemption, which starts small but is expected to increase up to 20 percent over the next few years. That will help homeowners pay their escalating property tax bills.

But it doesn’t help those who are being pushed out of the city because they no longer can afford to rent or buy a home in Austin’s hot housing market. Such trends, unabated, could severely damage Austin’s dynamic cultural fabric, which enhances its creative economy and hipster appeal.

Clearly, the public has yet to witness the kind of response to today’s affordability crisis that city officials and grassroots organizers waged in the 1990s in the midst of an environmental crisis. It is with that in mind that I view the big idea advanced by Adler and District 2 Council Member Delia Garza to generate 1,000 affordable homes in Austin.

The deal calls for the City Council to waive $51 million to $80 million in fees for the developer of the Easton Park project in Southeast Austin’s Pilot Knob area in exchange for the developer committing to make 10 percent of the housing units affordable.

That would yield 650 single-family homes — of the planned 6,500 — to be sold to people who earn 80 percent or less of Austin’s median family income, which is $61,450 for a family of four. But here’s the thing: Those 650 homes would be affordable in perpetuity through a land trust or other such mechanism so that they remain in the hands of lower-income homebuyers forever.

Another 350 rental units would be reserved for low-income households for a 40-year period. Renters would have to make 60 percent or less of median family income.

One misunderstood fact about the deal is the belief that the developer is no longer paying $51 million to $80 million in fees to the city. The developer is paying those fees, but instead of the fees going to the city’s water utility department, the city would divert those fees to the Austin Housing Finance Corporation to purchase lots from the developer for affordable homes or help with down payments on those homes.

Typically, the developer pays such fees to the city’s water utility department to cover costs of new development hooking into the water utility’s system or other infrastructure needed to serve a new development. Critics have blasted the deal for “blowing a $50 million hole” in the water department’s budget.

But the actual “hole” would amount to less than $2 million a year since the fee waivers would be spread over the life of the project, about 30 years. That is less than 1 percent of the water utility’s annual $525 million 2016 budget.

To be sure, the rollout was flawed, lacking the transparency deserving of such a major change in policy, including the amount of fee waivers and their impact to the water utility.

And it was wrongly sold as a freebie for the city, when there is a fiscal impact. Intentional or not, the damage is done in the perception that Garza, Adler, or their staffs, hid key information from the council and the public.That must be cleared up by making all of the deal’s specifics public.

Other questions also need answers: Did the city give up too much in the deal, does it fit with the city’s smart housing policy, does it violate city code requiring the city manager to prepare a fiscal note — and can it be reversed should the water utility’s finances stumble?

Those answers are important. But they shouldn’t foil other such big ideas from emerging. And the council should take a page from its past on that.

When dealing with an environmental crisis in the 1990s, community organizers, including Brigid Shea and Bill Bunch, led efforts to put the city’s Save Our Springs ordinance on the books. As the crisis escalated into wars between business groups and environmentalists, then-Austin Mayor Kirk Watson brokered smart growth and housing policies aimed at steering development away from Austin’s beloved Barton Springs and environmentally sensitive terrain in a way that permitted growth to prosper.

In some cases it meant spending millions of public dollars — about $300 million since 1992 — to buy land to serve as open space. It meant bringing hard-charging developers and impassioned environmentalists to the table and cutting deals. The city reset its priorities with the awareness that they were acting for the public good.

But where is the comparable response to today’s crisis that is reshaping Austin in some very profound — and negative — ways?

Consider that no large metro area in the country is more economically segregated than Austin, according to a 2015 report that underscores growing concerns about the divides in Central Texas and the impact they could have on the region’s economic prosperity. Austin stands out as a city that is growing rapidly, but is losing its share of African Americans.

Those trends are compounded by massive gentrification in central East Austin, which has displaced major portions of Austin’s Latino and black communities and wiped out much of the most affordable places in which to live in the central city.

Those shifts are changing ideas of such things as urban sprawl, a term once used to describe the voluntary exodus of middle- or more-affluent residents from central city neighborhoods to the suburbs, aka white flight. Now sprawl is in the reverse, with people of color being forced to the city’s outer limits or beyond to find affordable housing.

When it came to Austin’s environment, city leaders used nearly every tool in the box to help resolve that crisis. No less is needed to address Austin’s affordability crisis.