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Please characterize your support for an ambitious plan to reduce cost of living and allow residents more freedom to live in the neighborhood of their choice, through allowing a variety of home types in all neighborhoods (particularly west and central Austin) and eliminating residential occupancy limits which stigmatize and harass the poor. Please characterize your support for an ambitious plan for 2020 bond issue for light rail, to increase access for those who cannot afford to maintain a car.

Natasha Harper-Madison

City Council, District 1

My feeling here is that the first part of this question can be answered by my response to question #7, in which case I’ll reiterate: There are several ways I propose to help promote these initiatives, including but not limited to: community land trusts, expansion of affordability programs for historic and first time home owners, assure that all eligible homeowners take their rightful homestead tax exemptions, assertive appraisal reform to end double and triple appraisal increases, reform permitting, inspection and approval processes and work to increase and protect current homestead preservation districts as well as dramatically increase the fee in lieu costs to developers to ensure all means are taken to increase affordability in new development projects. I wholeheartedly believe that there are multiple reasons to eliminate occupancy limits within reason. As a candidate with first hand knowledge of the dangers of structural modifications that limit the ability of fire response teams to carefully and accurately extract residents from structure fires- the “within reason” portion of my response addresses the need to maintain structural safety requirements which can be compromised by increased residency of a building that includes the addition of walls and doors that first responders can not anticipate. That said, I believe when done safely, residents should be allowed to exceed the current limitations for related and non-related persons in homes as it accommodates affordability and communal living which I support. As a proponent for cooperative housing models and all the positive benefits they bring to intentional community building, I am definitely in support of eliminating residential occupancy limits. I support the proposed bond to address the need for high capacity, multi modal transit options, including light rail. This expense and what will certainly be a long time in the actual execution is the kind of intergenerational planning project that is future focused. I would argue that Austin as a whole will benefit from this kind of innovation and investment in our transit corridors, not just people who can’t afford cars. That to say, less cars on the road now and moving forward is ideal for a number of reasons including but not limited to: infrastructure, the environment, the expense of commuting, increased access and overall improved quality of life for residents of our city.