Austin Mayor Steve Adler answers questions from RECA

Austin Mayor Steve Adler addresses the Real Estate Council of Austin during Thursday's Mayoral Luncheon.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler addresses the Real Estate Council of Austin during Thursday's Mayoral Luncheon.

On Thursday, the Real Estate Council of Austin invited Austin Mayor Steve Adler for a question-and-answer session that touched on several city policies germane to the real estate community.

Council members, lobbyists, developers and real estate executives were among the 400 attendees who packed the Four Seasons ballroom on Thursday for the RECA­ Mayoral Town Hall Luncheon.

After a short speech from Adler, the mayor answered a series of questions submitted by RECA members that touched on several city policies, from economic incentives and property rights as they relate to Capitol View Corridors, to the upcoming CodeNEXT maps and managing Austin’s inevitable growth.

Here are the highlights:

On reviewing the city’s economic incentives policy and bringing companies and jobs back to Austin:

The issue of the city’s economic incentives policy has been near center stage for the last month. Last week, Austin City Council passed a resolution that will begin the process of shifting and modernizing the city’s economic incentives policy.

“We want to refocus how we do economic incentives so it could give us the tools to get middle-income jobs back in the city,” Adler said.

He went on to say there are 30,000 open positions in the city and 30,000 unemployed people looking for jobs that don’t match up. He said the city needs to do a better job of addressing that issue.

How do you balance the taking of private property and property rights that would occur with the proposed new Capitol View Corridors with the desire for equity and recognition of the minority community on the east side who have been historically left out?

City Council approved a resolution that authorized a study into the feasibility of creating Capitol View Corridors on the east side. The idea of new Capitol View Corridors, which District 1 Council Member Ora Houston proposed as a way of furthering equity on the east side, was met with pushback from some in the community who said the plan would impede on property rights and limit development.

“How do I balance this desire?” Adler said. “The law determines what that balance is.” Adler said the process is fair as long as the owner of the property being taken for public use is provided compensation equal to what is sacrificed.

Adler went on to say that the Capitol View Corridor resolution passed by council only started a conversation on the topic and no corridors were officially proposed.

Can the city council pass the best land use code without the interference of city politics?

“The call to having a community-deliberate process happen in the absence of politics is beyond unrealistic,” Adler said. “That is how a community makes choices. It’s important that at the end of the CodeNEXT process that we not only get this done, but done in a way that is supported by the community.”

The mayor said that no one in the community will get the zoning map they want but is optimistic that the map will be something everyone supports. When the first draft of the maps come in April, Adler said, they will be wrong, and it will be up to the community respond.

“I hope when the map comes out [in April], we all say, ‘These are wrong, but we didn’t expect them to be right. Let’s roll up our sleeves and figure out how we start moving the possibility of supply around this map,’” Adler said.

Would you support changing single-family zoning to allow for three-to-four smaller houses on lots for families who don’t want to live in the apartments along the major corridors?

“I do not support changing single-family zoning throughout the city,” Adler said. “If we can give ourselves the best map we can have, that will enable us to have the supply of housing we need in this city … but still preserve what is that is special about this city. Frankly, I would not support either extreme in this argument.”

As Austin continues to grow and land demand continues to rise, the central argument has been between increased density and the preservation of character in Austin’s neighborhoods. Adler said a zoning map that would heavily favor one over the other would be unsuccessful in for the city.
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


Photo of the Travis County sign
Travis County votes to accept application for Silicon Silver development incentives agreement

The company behind the project will be named once it submits an application and pays a $150,000 fee—the same as Tesla paid to apply for its hefty 2020 agreement.

Alder could open its first units in Southwest Austin this fall. (Rendering courtesy Brandon Miller Group)
New townhome community breaks ground in Oak Hill

Alder could open its first units in Southwest Austin this fall.

See how Southwest Austin's real estate market performed in 2020 compared to 2019. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Those who sold their homes in Southwest Austin in December made $91,000 more per sale than in 2019

See how Southwest Austin's real estate market performed in 2020 compared to 2019.

The school at the end of Sawyer Ranch Road is currently under construction. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)
Dripping Springs ISD's newest school to be called Cypress Springs Elementary, helmed by Principal Kellie Raymond

Cypress Springs Elementary School is named for a group of springs near the district.

Austin ISD reported its highest number of COVID-19 cases the week of Jan. 4, but that number has decreased for two consecutive weeks, according to the district. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD sees 70% drop in on-campus students over past 2 weeks after district asks families to stay home

The district saw a 11,839-student decline in on-campus learning as AISD families opted for online learning from Jan. 12-22.

City officials are facing growing pressure to address the growing visibility of homelessness in Austin. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sanctioned homeless camp proposal gains attention from Austin leaders as pressure mounts

Mayor Steve Adler said the urgent need for shelter space and housing could overrule initial objections to sanctioned homeless encampments.

See how COVID-19 continues to impact Travis County. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Despite drop in hospital admissions, Travis County adds 4,039 new COVID-19 cases over past 7 days

Overall, Travis County has reported 65,507 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Last Stand Brewing Co. owner Jim Sampson pours a beer at the business's new South Austin brewery.  (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
After grueling year, South Austin beer industry sees new breweries, opportunities for growth

Local brewers speak to the challenges of opening during the pandemic, adjusting to new state rules and beer to-go sales.

Construction at Q2 Stadium is on schedule to be completed by late March or early April. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin FC will play at newly named Q2 Stadium starting this summer

Austin FC announced the naming partnership with Austin-based tech company Q2 Holdings Inc. at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 25.

The Contemporary Austin will host a virtual artist talk Feb. 3 with photographers Torbjørn Rødland and Philip-Lorca diCorcia. COURTESY SARAH SCHULTZ/CONTEMPORARY ATX
Austin Film Society presents drive-in Sundance Film Festival screenings, The Contemporary Austin hosts a virtual artist talk and more events in Austin

Austin Film Society is a satellite screen partner for the Sundance Film Festival, which normally takes place at a ski resort in Utah, but is screening films digitally and through partners around the country this year.

Hays County opened its COVID-19 vaccine portal Jan. 22. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Vaccine portal opens in Hays County; read Austin business news and more Central Texas info

Read the latest business and community news from Central Texas.