Alison Alter

Please list and describe your top three priorities. 

1) Effective COVID Response: My top priority is improving our public health response to COVID and stabilizing our economy. We must be guided by data and the advice of medical experts and protect our vulnerable populations that have been especially hard hit healthwise and economically. The City has an important role to play in economic recovery, training and re-investing in our workers to be economically resilient and prosperous. We must help create safe conditions for our children to return to school and childcare. 

2) Managing Growth While Becoming More Resilient : In the coming years Austin will continue to be buffeted by climate change and public health risks. I believe we can make ourselves more resilient while also promoting a shared and widely-distributed prosperity. We have many public infrastructure projects we could be investing in to make us more resilient to floods, wildfire, or pandemics and we should continue efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change. We also can plant and preserve trees to enhance our urban forest, improve access to parks and green spaces throughout our city, increase broadband access, and enhance our sustainability initiatives. We can do this while training and employing workers for good jobs with living wages and benefits that also contribute to making our city safer for all. As we grow, I believe we must guide development, not simply unleash it and rubber stamp it. I opposed CodeNEXT because it favored special interests, not community interests. I’ll continue fighting to get developers to pay their fair-share towards their infrastructure demands including parks, affordable housing stock, flood mitigation, sidewalks and traffic needs. 

3) Reimagining Public Safety: The goal of reimagining public safety is to make Austin safer for everyone. We have an opportunity to make meaningful, real change by rethinking how we deliver public safety and shifting responsibilities to the professionals who are best suited to carry them out. Our work in the FY21 budget to reimagine public safety is just one recent next step. Since I joined the council I have prioritized rethinking how we “do” public safety in Austin and have understood how expensive public safety choices constrain investments in other community priorities. When the public safety contracts were being re-negotiated in 2017 – 18, my staff attended every single negotiation meeting between the City negotiators and the public safety unions. To our knowledge, this had never been done before. We were able to make important changes to our contracts while keeping our officers the best paid in the state because we put in the hard work to understand the nuances, the tradeoffs, and the possibilities. In FY 22 these contracts will be up for renegotiation and we still have more work to do. Finally, I want to note that for me, reimagining public safety is not just about APD; it involves all entities in our city that contribute to the health and safety of Austin residents. We need to be looking for new ways to work with AFD and EMS to enhance public health for instance. We ought to invest more in public and community health, in children and after school programs, in parks and community facilities and other social service needs and view those as contributing to public safety. 

If you are an incumbent please discuss your top accomplishments, your priorities for a next term, and why you believe voters should send you to City Hall again. 

In 2020 we face multiple crises – a pandemic, high unemployment, systemic racism, and climate change. Yet, I believe the best days for Austin are in front of us. I am running for re-election because this is a time for leadership and proven experience. 

I believe we can turn the current crises into catalysts for solving problems that have challenged our community for too long. Since first elected in 2016, I have asked the tough questions, done my homework, and focused on long-term solutions. I respond with compassion and real action and have always been honest with my constituents. I have four years of experience on council, navigating contentious issues. I know how to listen and learn, and I know how to get things done. 

I have demonstrated a record of standing up to special interests. I regularly use my economic training to challenge lobbyists and save the city money, i.e. on real estate costs, deferred maintenance, or loans. I am a strong voice for my district and have built mechanisms to communicate with and engage with my constituents on a regular basis. I have demonstrated I can run an effective, constructive, and responsive council office and balance the needs of my district with the whole city. I am a Democrat serving in a nonpartisan seat and am proud to have worked with and assisted all my constituents. 

I am proud of my record working to make Austin a place where all can thrive and feel safe. I have advanced many important initiatives during my first term. 

  • I have successfully prevented irresponsible developments and fought for neighborhood voices to be heard in zoning and development cases;
  • Actively pushed to accelerate wildfire prevention efforts, increased the wildfire division’s budget and wildfire related investments in other city departments, adopted the Wildland Urban Interface Code (WUI code) and secured commitments for a new fire station in the Davenport area; 
  • Increased ambulances and EMS medics, enhancing service to District 10;
  • Increased investments in city parks and pools each year and successfully pursued new parkland acquisition and development in the District including along Bull Creek (Spicewood Springs Hotel property at Spicewood and Yaupon); 
  • Fought to protect Muny and preserve irreplaceable greenspace and worked to ensure any development in the area is aligned with the community-developed Neighborhood Plan; 
  • Led Austin’s declaration of a climate emergency and advanced ambitious efforts to make our climate safer and accelerate achieving our carbon-zero and zero waste goals;
  • Created the Austin Civilian Conservation Corps to provide jobs and job training for Austinites while also developing critical city infrastructure and strengthening our climate resilience; 
  • Provided critical financial relief for small businesses, nonprofits, and childcare centers struggling to adapt to the pandemic;
  • Instituted an expedited permitting process and dedicated staffing to facilitate swift and cost effective implementation of the school bond projects at Murchison, Doss, Casis, O’Henry and other campuses; 
  • Invested in Safe Routes to Schools/sidewalks for every D10 elementary and middle school;
  • Increased city budget investments in local public schools and early childhood development and co-founded a campaign to successfully advocate for school finance reform (Just Fund It TX); 
  • Created the Austin Task Force on Gun Violence to advance local gun safety efforts,
  • Proposed the newly adopted Office of Violence Prevention and championed investments to protect children and schools from gun violence;
  • Reformed the City’s response to sexual assault: launched a comprehensive evaluation of our sexual assault system, pursued improvements to our DNA testing processes, guided new staffing resources to our sex crimes unit, and increased funding and staffing for Victim Services;
  • Championed creation of new transportation impact fees to make developers pay their fair share for sidewalks and traffic improvements:
  • Increased enforcement resources for short-term-rentals and worked to prevent
    the state legislature from allowing mini-hotels in our neighborhoods; and
  • Championed increases in the senior and general homestead exemptions. 

How would you have voted on the police budget that the Council approved in August? If you did vote for it, or would have, please explain your reasoning. If you would have taken a different approach please explain.
Note the below is adapted from my OpEd in the Austin American Statesman, published on Sept. 13. ( public-safety?fbclid=IwAR2y7EqDwHTDZK-4jkhVagsoxBenf7QgbacLDOYJlpdxR2pa2M 1OXk0QBYg)
Austin needs an effective police force and Austin must address racism in its policing. We must do both.
Since 2017 I have pursued a holistic process of pushing resistant police leadership to adopt reforms that would address racism and allow for greater public safety at the same time.
Early in my time at City Hall I focused on police contract reform. That work enabled us to finance 30 new officer positions each year and I voted with council to approve these new positions. I also pushed for the creation of our city’s new Office of Police Oversight for grievances about police behavior, especially from communities of color. These accomplishments made our city safer and increased public accountability. My staff attended every police contract negotiation session, working closely with representatives from the Austin Police Department, the Austin Police Association, the Austin Justice Coalition, Grassroots Leadership, and others. The contract we adopted provided the fiscal savings needed to fund more patrol officers and improved mechanisms to address recurring complaints about unfair treatment of people of color.
In 2018 the nation learned that APD was not fully investigating sexual assault cases. Sexual assault disproportionately impacts women and people of color. 99% of reported cases in Austin remain unresolved, and for years, DNA kits languished untested. I worked with the Survivor Justice Project, the women’s commission, victim services, and sex crime unit staff to identify how we could better meet the needs of survivors and stop the violence, and I led council efforts to improve how sexual assault is processed and investigated. We increased staffing and resources for victims services, improved DNA-test processing, and launched a comprehensive evaluation of our sexual assault response system. Unfortunately, police leadership continues to resist changes that would make our community safer, especially for women. 

In December 2019 the City Council unanimously approved Council Member Harper-Madison’s resolution to reform the police training academy, which suffered an astonishing 48 percent attrition rate. We also ordered the city manager to investigate racism in the department following reports of racist language by an Assistant Chief, who conveniently retired before we could investigate. We allowed the cadet class scheduled to begin in February to proceed with explicit directions that no further classes would begin without reform to the training academy. The police were supposed to update the curriculum in time for a July class. Police leadership failed to do so, and we thus postponed a new cadet class until we can train cadets to keep our city safe and implement anti-racist policies. 

Recently, the City Council reinvested city funds from the cadet class in staffing and programs outside of APD, including new ambulances, mental health response, community health paramedics serving the homeless, domestic violence shelters, substance use, and violence prevention programs that will save lives and make our community safer for all. We are using limited city resources more effectively for greater public safety. 

As a city, we would be well served to remember that effective city policy requires avoiding simple slogans and unnecessary tradeoffs. We can root out racism in any form and ensure safety for all. As my examples demonstrate, these are not mutually exclusive goals, and those goals are what I will continue to thoughtfully and responsibly pursue. 

Please describe your approach to homelessness. As part of that, state your position on the camping ban, but please do not limit your answer to that. 

In 2019, I voted against allowing public camping because I did not believe that the City had planned for the subsequent challenges we would face, such as maintaining the safety and sanitation of public spaces. As a city and a community I believe we should compassionately help our neighbors exit homelessness, and we should do so with a comprehensive strategy that addresses community concerns. I have heard from many constituents on this topic, and I share the frustration with the current situation. 

Though I voted against the repeal, I’ve invested hundreds of hours on this issue. 

My work has focused on three fronts: 

  1. Managing the safety and sanitation of public spaces;
  2. Advocating with council colleagues and city staff to ensure we are advancing a
    comprehensive strategy with defined metrics for our investments; and
  3. Addressing immediate housing, mental health, treatment, and employment
    opportunities and solutions for those experiencing homelessness.

Managing Public Spaces 

After the 9-2 vote by the Council majority to repeal the camping ban, many of you have expressed concerns about camping in public spaces . In District 10, the site we hear about most frequently is at 183 and Oak Knoll. Earlier this year, COVID required the City’s encampment response crews to pause their operations. At this time, monthly cleaning at these and other sites have recommenced along with regular visits from city departments to provide resources, referrals, assessments, COVID testing, and other public sanitation services that align with CDC guidelines. I will continue to work with city staff and service providers to ensure those in encampments are receiving services, targeted case management and intervention alongside the regular clean-ups. 

Advancing a Comprehensive Strategy 

For too long the City invested money to address homelessness and our only metric of success was whether the money was spent; those days are over . To target our investments, we must remember that homelessness has many profiles. We have children who have aged out of foster care, families fleeing domestic violence, people actively working but who can’t afford rent, individuals struggling with abuse and addiction or mental health. All of these profiles require different interventions, and those interventions are now being aligned. Where we have targeted our efforts as we did a few years ago for veterans and now towards ending youth homelessness , we have seen real results. In January, for instance, we partnered with LifeWorks to fund a new housing development, the Works II in East Austin . This initiative allowed us to expand shelter and housing options for young parents exiting homelessness, youth experiencing homelessness, and youth who are aging out of the foster care system. By the first quarter of 2021 we should reach our goal of ending youth homelessness in Austin. 

We know we need more housing for single adults experiencing homelessness. In the last year we added emergency overnight shelter capacity for families through the newly opened Salvation Army Rathgeber Center for Families. This step also allowed the Salvation Army downtown shelter to focus on sheltering single adults. We also have added a number of units of permanent supportive housing in the city. 

We also need a bridge between emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing. Bridge housing is necessary to stabilize single adults and transition them into self-sufficiency. Collaboration between our staff and service providers led them to establish the Motel Conversion Strategy . 

The City is acquiring motels to convert into single occupancy units that offer stability and wrap around services. The City intends to deploy 300 units total. The City initiated its first motel purchase late last year and finalized the transaction this Spring. Due to the pandemic, the facility is being utilized for temporary shelter services. Once the pandemic is clear, the motel’s 87 units will be rehabilitated for housing purposes and they will become part of the City’s homelessness portfolio. 

Addressing Immediate Needs and Long-Term Solutions 

I’ve championed important and evidence-based strategies to address homelessness including: 

  • Funding for more permanent supportive housing units with wraparound services
  • Funding for integrated mental health response, substance use disorder
    treatment, case management, permanent supportive housing and employment
  • Purchase of a domestic violence shelter and funding for wrap around services for
    survivors of domestic violence;
  • Additional funding for the Workforce First program run by The Other Ones Foundation that trains and employs people experiencing homelessness to clean parks;
  • Additional funding for the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST) to expand the program beyond downtown; and
  • Funding for additional Community Health Paramedics , whose responsibilities will include medical care and other resources for individuals experiencing homelessness. 

7. How would you have voted on the Land Development Code (LDC) that was before the Council on second reading of the LDC — or, if an incumbent, how did you vote? Feel free to elaborate on your position and the approach you would take on the LDC going forward.

We must guide growth, not simply unleash it. The rewrite of the Land Development Code (LDC) known as CodeNEXT was in process before I took office. I voted against the proposal multiple times; at every single decision point because the Code favored special interests and failed to deliver benefits for everyday Austinites. Though I voted against the code, I successfully advanced multiple amendments including amendments to reduce wildfire evacuation risks, prohibiting “upzoning” in areas with localized flooding, and requiring coordination with local school districts before adjusting minimum parking requirements. 

I also consistently voted in the minority to allow the public to vote on the Land Development Code before it could take effect. I voted to require the city to provide notice to every property owner of any proposed zoning change and allow them the right to protest. The Council majority refused to recognize those rights and requirements, until they were ordered to by Judge Jan Soifer but I always championed those rights. 

I believe we should plan for and manage growth not simply unleash it and rubber stamp it. Rather than upzoning the entire city without proper guidelines or planning, we should engage neighborhoods to plan for change. We should target growth to our transit corridors and Growth Centers like Downtown and the Domain. Neighborhoods should be engaged to develop small area or neighborhood plans to guide changes for future growth that reflect their local context and needs. 

I also believe we can support homeowners renovating or expanding their homes without adopting a code that upzones the city and exacerbates demolition rates. I co-sponsored creating the Family Homestead Initiative which aims to improve and streamline our permitting system to make it easier to obtain permits for renovations. As we update our code, we should focus on making it simpler and easier for everyday Austinites to navigate without having to hire a lobbyist. 

Continuing on the LDC, do you support petition rights for property owners and nearby property owners as prescribed in state law? Would you continue the appeal seeking to overturn the Judge’s ruling which, among other rulings, said that the Council erred in trying to deny appeal rights in the proposed mass upzonings in the LDC? 

I think Austin deserves a code that favors everyday Austinites, not just special interests, and has widespread support among the community. That is why I voted on December 10, 2019, in support of Council Members Pool’s and Tovo’s motions to recognize the right of property owners to protest the rezoning of their property or nearby property. Under state law and City ordinance, a valid protest triggers the requirement of a three-fourths vote on the Council to pass the rezoning. A three-fourths majority represents broader community buy-in. Those December 10th motions would have recognized protest rights, avoided an expensive lawsuit, and set the community on the path to a code revision with a greater degree of consensus. Unfortunately, a majority of the Council defeated those motions. On March 8, 2020, District Judge Jan Soifer held that the protest rights apply to the City’s code revision and that the City of Austin acted illegally in denying them. On April 9, 2020, I voted to oppose the Council majority’s decision to appeal the District Court’s judgment. Protest rights are an effective way to compel a consensus-based process, leading to a land development code with broad community support – but only if there are at least three votes on the Council to insist on that. I’m proud that I was one of those votes. I will continue to be one of those votes. I am proud to be an independent voice for my constituents with no ties to the real estate community. I will use the knowledge I have gained while standing up for everyday Austinites through-out the code-revision process to remain vigilant against any proposed stratagems that seek to evade the public’s rights to notice and protest. 

Will you commit to opposing and voting against transition zones – like those in the LDC rewrite — in single family neighborhoods? 

I voted against CodeNEXT precisely because, among other reasons, the transition zones were poorly thought out, created a negligible housing supply and inserted a great deal of unnecessary uncertainty in the community. I would never support a code that upzones existing residential neighborhoods, such as how transition zones would have done. However, I would also underscore that many people did not realize that the damage CodeNEXT would have done was not limited to transition zones. The proposal as the Council majority left it on second reading would have dramatically upzoned residential lots across the city. Allowing multiple units, and larger buildings on residential neighborhoods far outside of transition zones. In some ways, paying attention solely to transition zones allows far too many to think their areas would not have been impacted, when in reality the proposed changes would have been drastic to their neighborhood interiors as well. 

Pooja Sethi

Pooja Sethi

Please list and describe your top three priorities.

Economic Resilience: As a small business owner and Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce Policy Committee member, I recognize the importance of a strong economic recovery plan. I would prioritize small business grants; execute more city-wide outreach to inform local businesses about local, state, and federal loan programs; create partnerships with local businesses and larger companies to encourage buying local, and collaborate with local restaurants and arts programs to utilize city spaces for retail and performance spaces.

Public Safety: Moving forward we must commit to seeking community engagement as we reimagine public safety. I have developed a community center plan (available at that brings resources to the community to make our city safer and stronger, including emergency and mental health providers, property investigators, resources for women facing domestic violence, and services for those experiencing homelessness. I would advocate for implicit bias training and continued professional development among our law enforcement.

Affordable housing: Making Austin affordable is a priority–our city is the least livable U.S. city for minimum-wage workers. On city council, I would support increasing affordable housing in collaboration with neighborhoods and AISD, increasing transit-oriented development with affordable housing, diverse building types, and ADUs that align with any transit plans that we approve. I would also work to simplify and ease the City of Austin permitting process for homeowners, business owners, and builders.

If you are a challenger to an incumbent please discuss your priorities and why you think voters should pick you over the incumbent and your other opponents.

In addition to the priorities previously listed, I believe government should be accountable, accessible, and transparent. If elected as your City Council member, I will balance my point of view, with the needs of the district, and the good of the city as a whole. I want District 10 to be a part of all policies that get passed. I know what it means to meet with our residents, bring voices to the table that have never been heard, and truly represent our district and Austin the way it needs to be represented. I would discuss potential votes with constituents before I take them, and come back and explain why I voted the way that I did to the district. If on council,  would also implement a District 10 neighborhood advisory council that includes our local business owners, have monthly town halls in the district, and works towards solutions together.

Please discuss your philosophy of a Council Members’ role and responsibility when it comes to ensuring the provision of basic City services to citizens.

Council Members play a large role in how basic city services are available to Austin residents. Through my own work as an Asian American Quality of Life Commissioner, I have championed resolutions to ensure that all communities have access to the services they need.  Thus, I created the community centers plan on my website  This is a plan that brings resources back into our neighborhoods, with victims services if you face assault or family violence, property investigators if your car, business, or home is broken into, and access to mental health resources.

How would you have voted on the police budget that the Council approved in August? If you did vote for it, or would have, please explain your reasoning.  If you would have taken a different approach please explain.

My own work has led me to realize that we need actual police reform to diminish deep systemic inequities. I would like to see us working with advocates, community members, and our first responders to truly start dismantling systemic inequities. I would advocate for implicit bias training and continued professional development among our law enforcement.  I also believe in putting money into resources in our communities to create a system of prevention over punishment.   

Please describe your approach to homelessness. As part of that, state your position on the camping ban, but please do not limit your answer to that.

Last year the Supreme Court issued a ruling that affirmed that we cannot criminalize the homeless if the city is not providing enough beds. Per the City of Austin Homeslessness Dashboard, we only have 2,000 beds, and in the last Point in Time Count we had more homeless people than beds. Therefore, we need to be more aggressive and develop long-term solutions to house people experiencing homelessness.This is an issue I approach with experience and practicality since I have worked with our unhoused communities. First, we need better data of our unhoused communities, and people on the brink of being homeless. This includes people who are sleeping in other people’s homes and in cars. Next, we need more resources into a rapid rehousing plan and an eviction diversion plan which includes financial education classes for the community. Third, we need to partner with local organizations like The Other Ones Foundation and Camp Esperanza to get resources, specifically mental health resources, directly into our unhoused populations. Finally, we need more affordable housing. We need to add more affordable housing units around Austin, and I would be vigilant about adding more housing in our city that is affordable. 

How would you have voted on the Land Development Code (LDC) that was before the Council on second reading of the LDC — or, if an incumbent, how did you vote? Feel free to elaborate on your position and the approach you would take on the LDC going forward. 

We need an updated land development code. My vision for Austin is one that is more accessible and affordable. I believe in Transit Oriented Development, and I believe that any LDC we have, needs to prioritize this. We need to create more compact mixed-use communities where people have access to their jobs, small businesses, arts venues, and homes.  However, through my work as a Commissioner, I have also advocated for the land development code to be translated into different languages, made simpler for everyone to understand, and allowed for more community engagement. I strongly believe that more community engagement within all communities would have been necessary before voting for the Land Development Code on second reading. 

Continuing on the LDC, do you support petition rights for property owners and nearby property owners as prescribed in state law? Would you continue the appeal seeking to overturn the Judge’s ruling which, among other rulings, said that the Council erred in trying to deny appeal rights in the proposed mass upzonings in the LDC?

As an Attorney, I would defer to what the Courts determine in our LDC.

Will you commit to opposing and voting against transition zones – like those in the LDC rewrite — in single family neighborhoods?

There were areas in Northwest Hills where the Land Development Code would have added density in areas that were already dense. We need to work with neighborhoods and get more community engagement to add density where it is appropriate. Furthermore, I am a proponent of us working with any public transit plan that the voters approve, and supporting transit-oriented development to ensure we are creating communities where City of Austin residents have access to work, school, and healthcare options.

Jennifer Virden

Jennifer Virden

Please list and describe your top three priorities.  

(My top four)

  1. Opposed to “De-Funding the Police” – I support ALL first responders, including APD, AFD, and EMS.
  2. Homeless Population Crisis – REINSTATE the Camping Ban, Cleanup & REAL Solutions (Please see answer to Question 7 below for more detail).
  3. DEFEAT the $7.1 BILLION “Project Connect” – an UNCONSCIONABLE 25% city tax increase NOW – and for 10 YEARS – before it’ll carry its first passenger.  80% of that $7.1 BILLION won’t service even 1% of our (pre-pandemic) projected mobility needs.  Further, fixed rail is antiquated technology, which has already been proven in at least 10 major US cities to be a complete failure.
  4. Opposed to any Land Development Code rewrite (f/k/a CodeNEXT) that includes comprehensive rezoning (of nearly the whole city at once!), or that doesn’t include required notice to neighbors, or that attempts to take away our legal right to protest.  I’m FOR maintaining our property values, property rights, and for maintaining the precious green space that we still have left “inside the loop.”

If you are a challenger to an incumbent please discuss your priorities and why you think voters should pick you over the incumbent and your other opponents.

I believe Alison Alter’s vote to “defund the police” (shift their budget), her vote in favor of the unprecedented and obscene “Project Connect” 25% City tax increase, and her inability to effectively address the homeless population crisis, are all deeply unpopular positions to the voters in District 10.  My position is different from hers on those three issues.  I believe a critical mass of D10 voters strongly support replacing Alison Alter because of her votes on those three issues, and others.  Regarding another challenger in my race, Robert Thomas, I believe the key difference between us is where we stand on the Land Development Code and CodeNEXT.  He speaks in generalities and platitudes that would not successfully withstand the scrutiny of the D10 voters in a runoff election.  Just compare my detailed LDC position paper on my website to where Robert mentions the LDC/CodeNEXT on his website.  Robert appears to talk a good game about CodeNEXT, a term for the LDC rewrite that the City has tried to abandon, but what Robert actually puts in writing is the need to be “flexible” on changes to the LDC.  I have reason to believe that Robert’s first C&E report in this election cycle will show heavy contributions from the pro-CodeNEXT development community.  I believe I am in a better position with the voters in D10 on my top 4 issues.

Please discuss your philosophy of a Council Members’ role and responsibility when it comes to ensuring the provision of basic City services to citizens.

The city’s spending priorities should be to provide core municipal services, which include police, fire, EMS, water, waste, and electricity – period.  Regarding a thoughtful review of the budget, I believe a true external audit is well past due on the City of Austin’s budget.

How would you have voted on the police budget that the Council approved in August? If you did vote for it, or would have, please explain your reasoning.  If you would have taken a different approach please explain.

I am vehemently opposed to the $150M cut in funding of the APD budget, which included $2.2M for three incoming cadet classes.  I support the immediate reinstatement of these canceled cadet classes.  APD was already understaffed with 150 open positions, and the attrition rate is climbing every month.  For a core municipal department budget, one that is to be allocated to the safety and security of our community, I do not believe that enough time was taken by Council to deliberate on that cut of 1/3 of APD’s budget.  Not to mention, the decision served to exacerbate even further a new divisiveness that has been injected into the municipal dialogue. 

Please describe your approach to homelessness. As part of that, state your position on the camping ban, but please do not limit your answer to that.

Austin must reinstate and enforce its public camping ban, because homeless camping is unsafe and harmful to our citizens, environment, and economy.  Homeless-on-homeless violent crime is up 23% and homeless-on-non-homeless violent crime is up 6%.  Homeless camping spreads dangerous and communicable diseases like COVID-19 and influenza.  Homeless camping damages our city parks, which are meant for the enjoyment of all citizens.  Homeless camping impacts watersheds, and runoff from unsanitary areas pollutes our waterways and spreads disease.  We must partner with and coordinate with our fellow Texas entities, such as Austin’s core of non-profits, to assist with intake and triage of the homeless population to appropriate housing for their specific needs (including addiction recovery facilities and mental health facilities).  We can quickly set up temporary safe and adequate housing inside of currently empty buildings and on government-supported campgrounds (like the 5-acre site near ABIA) where there are sanitary services, regular food deliveries, regular social services, and police patrol.  Solving this crisis will be a process, but we CAN solve it.  We should follow models with proven results, such as San Antonio’s “Haven for Hope,” and we need to include a length-of-residency entry barrier requirement, as Bexar County does.  Solving this crisis must be a priority, not a side issue.  We must reinstate our public camping ban ASAP, and our currently budgeted $62.5M per year is adequate to do that.

How would you have voted on the Land Development Code (LDC) that was before the Council on second reading of the LDC — or, if an incumbent, how did you vote? Feel free to elaborate on your position and the approach you would take on the LDC going forward. 

I would have voted against that second reading of the LDC rewrite before Council. 

I believe this could be the issue that most clearly differentiates the District 10 candidates.  I hope it’s well known by now that I am opposed to the LDC rewrite that was called CodeNEXT.  To be clear, CodeNEXT lost in District Court and is now being appealed by the city in the State Court of Appeals, and I hope they rightly lose that appeal.  Going forward, I have red lines when it comes to any potential future LDC rewrite:

1.  I am opposed to increased density in District 10, other than considering allowing the addition of one accessory dwelling unit (ADU) per single family lot.  The COA zoning of SF3 throughout most of D10 allows for an ADU, but in the majority of our D10 subdivisions, the deed restrictions (which supersede zoning) do not allow for ADU’s.  It is irresponsible for the City to propose new zoning that is contrary to existing deed restrictions, when it’s the individual homeowners – and NOT the City – who are responsible for bearing the legal expense to enforce the deed restrictions (which are intended to maintain the character of the neighborhood).  The City and the Council should not be operating in that cavalier of a manner at our expense.

2.  I am opposed to any decrease in the parking space minimum requirements.  Presently in our area, the minimum number of parking spaces required on SF3 properties is two spaces, but CodeNEXT went so far in most cases to reduce that parking space minimum requirement to one on-site.  Anything that would exacerbate street parking or cause parking in the yards is a non-starter for me.

3.  I am opposed to comprehensive rezoning of the whole city all at once.  Further, the City Council should absolutely never try to pass a comprehensive new LDC AND a new city-wide zoning map at the same time.

4.  Rezoning cases need to continue to be considered on a case-by-case basis, and any LDC rewrite must not take away proper notice to surrounding owners or attempt to take away property owner’s or nearby property owners’ legal right to protest.  We should always aspire to preserve the unique characteristics of each neighborhood and to preserve the charm of our city.  I’m FOR maintaining our property values and property rights, and I’m for maintaining the precious green space that we have left “inside the loop.”

Continuing on the LDC, do you support petition rights for property owners and nearby property owners as prescribed in state law? Would you continue the appeal seeking to overturn the Judge’s ruling which, among other rulings, said that the Council erred in trying to deny appeal rights in the proposed mass upzonings in the LDC?

Yes, I support petition rights for property owners and nearby property owners.  No, I do not support the City’s appealing that District Court decision on the LDC rewrite.  That appeal is bad decision making and a waste of our tax dollars.  I would be just one vote of 11 votes, but if I can get that reconsidered by the Council, I will vote against funding that appeal.  The City and City Council need to address the real issues of the LDC, instead of spending time and taxpayer money to try to pull a win out of a loss with bad policy.

Will you commit to opposing and voting against transition zones – like those in the LDC rewrite — in single family neighborhoods?

Yes, I commit to opposing and voting against transition zones as they were proposed in the last LDC rewrite.  Regarding “corridors” and proposed transition zones, it is important to question which streets may be determined to be “corridors” beyond the transit corridors, and how far might the transition zones extend from the corridor into the neighborhoods.  I do not support 1/4-mile transition zones into existing single family neighborhoods.  I do not support any new “transition zones” in D10 into single family neighborhoods.

Candidates Robert Thomas, Belinda Greene, Bennett Easton, and Noel Tristan did not return questionnaires.


District 2 Questionnaires

District 4 Questionnaires

District 6 Questionnaires

District 7 Questionnaires

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