A big whiff from Bloomberg
Who thinks it's easy to build in Austin?
Last week local YIMBYs flew into a rage over an article in Bloomberg about the Austin housing market. Despite dutifully noting that a "wealth of scholarly research" supports the idea that increasing housing supply reduces housing costs, the article by Prashant Gopal and Patrick Clark engaged in a fair bit of housing whataboutism, highlighting obscene rents charged by luxury apartments downtown as evidence that supply-and-demand isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Let's start with the headline and sub-hed:
Wait, this is a story about Austin? What red tape has the city cut? Our notoriously cumbersome development review process has only become worse in recent years due to understaffing; it now takes a year-and-a-half to get a site plan approved. Parkland dedication fees are now six times what they were seven years ago.
To anybody familiar with Austin's land development policies, the idea that our city would be held up as a case study of housing deregulation is laughable. And yet, that impression is common. I recently attended a meeting of my neighborhood plan contact team and heard a number of people point to multi-million dollar mansions popping up in the neighborhood as evidence that pro-density policies weren't working as intended. I was heartened to see some others gently push back, noting that it's because our zoning rules (and in some case, deed restrictions) don't allow multi-unit developments that the only thing getting built are massive houses.