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What policies and approaches will you advocate to promote neighborhood improvement, and avoid neighborhood protectionism, as Austin changes and grows?

Danielle Skidmore

City Council, District 9

My number one priority is serving as a bridge between the neighborhood preservation community and business/affordable housing communities—to ensure that the growth of our city and stewardship of residents’ well-being move forward using preservation as a lens to enhance our experience, rather than being viewed as a threat to growth.

I also recently moderated a panel on “Creating Space for Community” through intentional placemaking, and would plan to host additional events in this realm to bring outside community voices into the process and better promote this balance between old and new Austin. I understand folks’ viewpoint that preservation is more than just saving buildings. The perennial question that all cities have faced is the need to balance an appreciation of the past while also allowing for a city to grow and evolve organically. Neighborhoods are collections of people, not styles of housing. I will encourage a development strategy for the city that provides tools and resources to help protect iconic places and businesses, but also includes tools to support adding more housing in sustainable locations.

I grew up in an amazing house built at the turn of the last century, so I absolutely agree that we should rehabilitate existing structures whenever practical. Adaptive reuse of existing structures should be a community value. However In Old West Austin alone, over the last 7 years, 44 houses were demolished, with the new houses only added space for a dozen additional families (56 new house total). If demotions do occur, the structures that replace them should come with real and tangible community benefits of increased housing and sustainable construction. Our current code is failing miserably in this regard.