Quantity & Quality

Improving Austin government’s public engagement process requires procedures and tools that separate the two major goals of citizen input: uncovering insightful information and assessing political support.  As long as engagement routines mix both goals together, sub-optimal engagement is likely.

sub-committe-meeting

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Posted in Democracy Reform | 2 Comments

Anti-growth pains

Proponents of ‘slowing’ or ‘managing’ Austin’s growth typically advance policies that will improve the City’s desirability. As a result, while their discourse concerns itself with growth deceleration, their implied solutions are actually additional sprawl and unnecessarily high prices.

atx_pop_change_2010

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Posted in Development

Hahn Shoots First

Amy Everhart of Hahn Public wrote a fantastic memo on what to expect from the next Austin City Council. Here are three points to add to her mix of high-quality insights.

hahn-election-memo

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Posted in Development, Fiscal

The Homestead Exemption debate in 2 minutes

A City of Austin 20% homestead exemption is a tax shift policy that is likely to get a lot of attention from the incoming City Council. Here’s what you need to know.

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Posted in Fiscal

Good Move

Austin’s local government officials should play board games. Many of our most pressing local public policy problems would benefit from overhauls in strategy, as well as creativity in how we manage risk. Playing board games can help by strengthening the following five problem-solving habits:

lostcities

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Posted in Wonker's Delight

Prop 1 in 1 minute

This FAQ provides a pro-transit, anti-Proposition 1 perspective. Here’s the extended version of this FAQ.

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Posted in Transit, Transportation

Pro-Transit, Anti-Proposition 1

Why would a pragmatic progressive that wants to move Austin away from car-dependence oppose an investment in light rail? In brief, because the details of this proposal mean more sprawl and lower transit system ridership. Here is the pro-transit, anti-Proposition 1 perspective to Frequently Asked Questions about this November’s bond.

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Posted in Transportation

Rail Risks

Proposition 1 rail has much higher operating costs than bus-based alternatives, yet it will achieve essentially the same ridership as bus service. This is due to the selection of a route with ridership potential too low to take advantage of rail’s economies of scale. As a result, serving East Riverside-Highland (ER-HL) with Proposition 1 rail lowers overall system-wide ridership.

rail_risks_scenarios

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Posted in Transportation

Let’s Go do rail like Houston!

Advocates for this November’s “road and rail” Proposition 1 would like the electorate to believe the proposed light rail segment will achieve success similar to Houston’s stellar Red Line. Here are the top 3 reasons why they are wrong and why it matters.

rail_opex_ntsd1

Source: National Transit Database. “UPT” means unlinked passenger trip (i.e. boarding). Median values for a category in bold.

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Posted in Transportation

10 bucks or 10,000 homes

A homestead exemption based on a fixed percent of home value is a regressive and ineffective affordability policy. It engenders a permanent loss of much-needed revenue for public investments. Spending directly on policies that promote abundant housing supply is an effective, progressive alternative. Said progressive alternative targets the actual problem: extraordinary assessment growth due to a lack of supply in desirable neighborhoods.

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Posted in Fiscal