May 2, 2016
RECA's 25th Anniversary Ideas Forum Luncheon took place Thursday, April 28 at the Four Seasons Hotel. If you weren't there, you missed the opportunity to hear some of RECA's co-founders and earliest members share memories and talk about the organization's history. A second panel also looked at RECA and the community going forward. A special thank you to Heritage Title Company of Austin for sponsoring the lunch.
Prior to the main program, Former Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell spoke about the ongoing Proposition 1 election that will govern how TNCs operate in Austin. Leffingwell was Mayor in 2014 when the City Council passed the ordinance that TNCs have been operating under for the past 18 months and is similar to the ordinance that would be put into place if Prop 1 passes.
"I believe, and I know many people share this opinion, that the requirements for Uber and Lyft are actually safer than the requirements for taxi cabs," he said.
Leffingwell and RECA both support a FOR vote on Prop 1, and the Austin Chamber of Commerce recently announced their support. Early voting runs through Tuesday and the general election will take place Saturday, May 7. Learn more on RECA's website here.
The program's first panel, which was moderated by KXAN's Shannon Wolfson, included RECA co-founders and some of the organization's earliest members, including Paul Bury of Bury now Stantec, Aan Coleman of Coleman & Associates, Gary Farmer of Heritage Title Company and Tom Terkel of FourT Realty.
The panelists shared insightful — and often entertaining — stories about RECA's past.
"We started some PACs early on and it was interesting because everybody wanted to talk to us, but what they didn't realize was that we didn't have any money," Bury said.
The panel discussed how important it is for the younger generation of RECA members get more involved in the community and the political process.
"I really hope this next generation rewrites the script," Coleman said. "We've come along way, but I still hate whenever the real estate industry is demonized."
Terkel said he is most proud of RECA's impact on the city.
"RECA brought about a real change in the culture of the City government and how they interact with the real estate industry," he said.
The day's second panel featured a discussion about RECA's future within the context of our rapidly expanding region. RECA Board Member Kevin Burns shared the organization's perspective while Mark Gilbert with the Travis County Economic Development Department and Chris Schreck with the Capital Area Council of Governments set the scene for Austin's growth over the next 25 years.
Schreck said data is showing that most people moving to Austin are coming from other parts of Texas and not other states.
"People thought our growth would slow down, but it has only been accelerating," he said.
The panel discussed the importance of being able to provide sufficient housing for the influx of new residents.
"We need more variety of housing types," Gilbert said. "That creates an environment where more people of differing socioeconomic levels live together, which is very important for a community."
Burns said everyone in the community needs to work together and that everyone involved in the issues will need to give in a little bit.
"We are growing whether anyone likes it or not," he said. "As an organization, RECA and its members need to be proactive instead of reactive."