City to create new homestead preservation districts

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Austin City Council meeting Dec. 17

Austin City Council Member Leslie Pool was among council members who supported the creation of three homestead preservation districts at the council’s Dec. 17 meeting. (via Kelli Weldon/Community Impact Newspaper)

Three new homestead preservation districts are slated to be created in parts of East, Southeast and North Austin following an Austin City Council vote Dec. 17.

The council voted to approve three ordinances to establish homestead preservation districts with a 9-2 vote. The council also passed a related item that will significantly increase the percentage of tax revenue dedicated to the Housing Trust Fund and commits those funds to various affordable housing properties.

District D will be located in North Austin near the intersection of I-35 and East Anderson Lane. District B will be located in Southeast Austin bounded roughly by I-35 and Parker Lane to the west, the Colorado River to the north, Bastrop Hwy. to the east, and Hwy. 71 to the south. District C in East Austin is located north of the Colorado River, east of Springdale Road and Airport Boulevard, continuing east past Ed Bluestein Boulevard and north to Oak Springs Drive.

A homestead preservation district is an area that qualifies as a special district that, under state legislation, establishes residential boundaries for the reinvestment of property taxes in an effort to increase household affordability.

Establishing such districts is a tool that could help more people stay in the inner city of Austin rather than being forced to move out of town, said Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria, who supported the motion.

Council Member Leslie Pool said she hopes the tools established by council will help residents whose wages are “being eroded” by a lack of affordability.

“The whole idea of being able to own a home is becoming further and further out of reach for people who are in the working class,” Pool said.

Council members Ellen Troxclair and Don Zimmerman voted against the motion to establish the districts.

“I cannot go to my District 6 constituents and say ‘Your taxes are going to be going up in order to subsidize a preservation district in another part of the city,’” Zimmerman said.

Council Member Ora Houston voted in support of the motion but said she is concerned that some people will suddenly find themselves living in preservation districts without having participated in community engagement.

According to city documents, the HTF resolution increases the percentage of the annual property tax revenue generated from developments on property formerly owned by the city that goes to the HTF from 40 percent to 100 percent.

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Kelli joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter and has been covering Southwest Austin news since July 2012. She was promoted to editor of the Southwest Austin edition in April 2015. In addition to covering local businesses, neighborhood development, events, transportation and education, she is also the beat reporter covering the Travis County Commissioners Court.
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