March 10, 2016
RECA's Mayoral Town Hall Breakfast featuring Austin Mayor Steve Adler took place yesterday at the Four Seasons Hotel. If you weren't there, you missed the opportunity to hear Mayor Adler discuss his latest ideas to address affordability, mobility and the city's permitting process. A special thank you to Smith | Robertson for sponsoring the breakfast.
Adler began his address by acknowledging Austin's strengths and the great position the city is in — despite the obvious growing pains.
"Things are going incredibly well in Austin and they are going to stay that way," he said. "Austin is the place where good ideas go to become real."
With more than three million people expected to live in the Austin metro area by 2030, Adler emphasized that even though the city is booming, there are several long-term challenges on the horizon.
He said the city plans to conduct affordability audits on proposed regulations and that Austin needs to be creative and innovative in order to solve our worsening affordability crisis.
"We need to do big things to avoid the housing prices of San Francisco and the traffic of Los Angeles," he said. "If Austin wants to be a better version of itself instead of a cautionary tale, we need to scale our thinking."
He acknowledged that he and his City Council colleagues need to look more closely at the benefit of density and downtown development, and how it can contribute to the city's overall tax base.
"What everyone should be hoping for is new downtown condo buildings," he said. "They can help pay for things like the affordable housing and pocket parks that everyone wants."
Adler said Austin's current permitting process is "holding the city back" and stressed the need for the community to come together during the CodeNEXT process, which will significantly update the city's land development code.
"CodeNEXT is the most important thing we're doing this year," he said. "It has to work and it has to deliver for this city. It must bring predictability for developers and neighbors alike."
Asked by a member of the audience what RECA can do to help the mayor achieve his goals, Adler responded:
"RECA is a really valuable voice in the city. As we deal with policy decisions on planning, RECA members need to get involved early in the processes with their ideas."