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Unintended Consequences of Irresponsible Zoning

I just posted this to the allandale yahoo group but it bears repeating to a more general audience.

--- In allandale@yahoogroups.com, "kayn7"  wrote:
>
> Some of the neighbors in HPWBANA tried the nice approach and working
> with them - the students were - to say the least - not responsive and
> some were abusive. The neighbors on Hartford call the police and
> Varisty Properties owners on a regular basis because of parking on
> lawns, loud late night parties, beer cans thrown in yards.

This entire process (and I live next door to a duplex full of UT Wranglers who occasionally cause similar problems) is an unintended consequence of something which your neighborhood and mine probably supports - that being restrictions on multifamily development.

Most of these kids (not all, but most) don't have any particular interest in living in a house instead of a condo or apartment - but the artificially low-density development around UT for decades has forced them to either live out in Far West or Riverside and take a slow poky shuttle to school, or get together with a bunch of buddies and rent a house (and be able to carpool to school or take a much quicker and shorter bus ride, or bike or walk). I'd probably pick the same thing if I were in their shoes - I've seen how long it takes to bus in from those areas; my next-door neighbors can walk the 10 blocks to campus in half the time it takes those other schlubs to bus there.

(I know from my experience in college that when the market provides enough near-campus apartments, far fewer kids end up in rental houses - this was at Penn State, in case anybody cares).

So you can thank the decades of foolhardy opposition to density (height restrictions and moronic suburban parking requirements) in West Campus for a lot of this. Unfortunately, the recent rezonings are too little too late for most of us - it will be another decade or two before the number of new apartments there can begin to stem the tide.

Summary: for decades, inner-city neighborhoods pushed the city to keep building heights low, require way too much parking, and otherwise restrict high-density development near UT despite the fact that students living in this area WALK to class. UT doesn't provide even half as many dorms as the students would seem to need; the near-campus market doesn't have enough tall buildings to make up the difference (not even as many as Penn State has, despite having an oversupply of dorms); so students end up in rental houses, even though they have no interest in yardwork and get hassled a lot more by the neighbors (like me) than they would in an apartment in West Campus. Be careful of what you ask for.

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , Urban Design , When Neighborhoods Go Bad