City staff compiled an initial list of 45 city-owned sites that could serve as temporary sanctioned homeless camps. The possible sites span across all 10 council districts and include decommissioned wastewater treatment plants, public parkland and recreation centers.
Leadership presented the options to Austin City Council on Tuesday afternoon, emphasizing that the sites are potential options and stressing that staff are still looking for other suggestions, including private land.
Most council members expressed concerns about the sites in their districts, especially those in parks, and safety risks given the recent spate of fires at homeless camps around town in recent months. Council Member Sabino "Pio" Renteria raised questions about the equitable distribution of such sites. "Unless everyone else participates, I don't think my community would accept a (sanctioned) homeless camp," he said.
Council Member Kathie Tovo, who sponsored the resolution that directed staff to develop a plan and budget for temporary sanctioned camps after the resounding victory of Proposition B in the May 1 election, called on community members to offer up alternative sites. "Please help us with this," she said, citing dozens of constituent emails she received about the list in the few hours since it was made public.
The proposition, which reinstated city bans on sitting, lying, camping and panhandling in certain areas of Central Austin, took effect last week and forced city officials to revisit temporary sanctioned camps, an idea they previously abandoned because of concerns about cost and upkeep.
Save Austin Now, the local political action committee that spearheaded the Prop B campaign prepared to respond to the preliminary site options in a tweet Tuesday. "As the clueless city council prepares to announce dozens of 'campsites' near schools, we'll all be called 'NIMBYs' for fighting it," the group wrote.
Staff estimates each of the 10 proposed camps will cost between $1.4 and $1.9 million to operate on an annual basis and have a capacity of 50 to 100 people. Annual operating costs will likely include basic infrastructures, such as electricity and water service, as well as other services, such as trash collection, laundry facilities and 24/7 security.
Council members expressed concern about these cost estimates and floated the idea of restricting certain services or sharing them among camp sites to lower costs.
Following Tuesday's presentation, staff are due to issue two subsequent reports to council. By June 1, they will provide a proposed implementation schedule, potential funding sources and possible partners that can help share the cost or provide services. By July 1, they will identify land within the city limits that could accommodate tiny home structures to serve as temporary housing and the estimated related costs.
This story was updated at 4:25 p.m. to include council's discussion of these sites.
- Austin City Council considers where homeless can go after ban ... ›
- Austin begins phased plan to reinstate homeless camping ban ... ›
- Photo essay: Austin's homeless camps amid COVID, cleanups ... ›
- Austin voters overwhelmingly support reinstating camping ban ... ›
- How Austinites and businesses will vote on homeless camping ban ... ›
- Austin City Council pushes back on sanctioned homeless sites - austonia ›
- Multiple homeless arrested at City Hall as tents cleared - austonia ›
- City of Austin reveals two possible sanctioned homeless camps - austonia ›
- Council members ask for pause on sanctioned homeless camps - austonia ›
Officials are asking certain residents in Bastrop State Park to evacuate as crews work to put out a “very active fire” that is currently 0% contained.
The Texas A&M Forest Service has responded to help local fire departments with the Rolling Pines Fire at 100 Park Road 1A, which is consuming 300 acres. Residents of Pine Hill Drive, Pine Tree Loop, Linda Lane and Lisa Lane are being asked to evacuate.
Today’s Bastrop Rolling Pines Fire is burning along Power Plant Road towards Lake Bastrop South Shore. pic.twitter.com/YCvJkIAg1u
— BastropCntyTexas OEM (@BastropCntyOEM) January 18, 2022
Aviation resources have been called to assist.
According to the Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management, the wildfire sparked during a prescribed burn that took place today, despite wildfire warnings. Park Road 1C from Harmon Road to Park Road 1A had been closed for the prescribed burn.
The blaze is in the same location as the Bastrop Complex Fire of 2011, which burned for 55 days, killing two people, destroying 34,000 acres and around 1,700 homes and buildings. The fire, which started in 2011, became the most destructive wildfire in Texas at the time.
A hotbed for fires, the Hidden Pines Fire started at the same location in 2015, destroying 4,600 acres and 64 structures.
Some road closures have been put in place at State Highway 21 South Shore Lake Bastrop and East State Highway 21.
This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.
After months of record-setting periods for Austin real estate, the Austin Board of Realtors announced Tuesday that the metro's housing market accounted for over $23 billion of economic activity in 2021, making it the biggest year yet for both home sales and median home prices in the metro.
The Austin-Round Rock MSA saw 41,316 homes sold in 2021, 2.5% more than a record-setting 2020. Median home prices skyrocketed as well, rising 30.8% from 2020 to $450,000. The housing market also saw unprecedented impact on Austin's economy, with sales dollar volume jumping to over $23.38 billion, and more homes hit the market in 2021 than any previous year, increasing by 5.9% to 46,449 total homes listed.
(Austin Board of Realtors)
As many recent Austin homebuyers have experienced firsthand, Austin Board of Realtors 2022 President Cord Shiflet said 2021 was the most "exciting, complicated, fast-paced and record-setting housing market" in Austin's history.
Shiflet dubbed the market as "complicated" for a reason—Austin became a case study on supply and demand in 2021, with demand far outpacing the number of active listings, which dropped by 48.2% to 2,348 homes in 2021.
The metro ended the year with 0.6 months of inventory, a far cry from a "healthy" six-month supply, and houses were snatched at breakneck speeds, spending 25 fewer days on the market when compared to 2020. The average home was on the market for 20 days.
But low inventory is more due to high demand than a stagnant homebuilding market, Mark Sprague, Independence Title's state director of information capital, said in the report.
“In 2021, the record number of homes sold were demand-driven transactions and that demand was influenced greatly by companies continuing to target the region for job creation and expansion," Sprague said. "Even though more homes are being built, listed and sold than ever before, our region is still nowhere close to having a comfortable amount of supply to meet the demand, which is why home prices continue to rise steadily.”
Over 23,000 jobs have been promised by companies across the metro as of December 2021, breaking the 2020 record, according to Opportunity Austin, the economic development arm of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. With an influx of major factories and offices, including Tesla's Giga Texas, Samsung's Taylor plant and a planned 33-floor Facebook office, Sprague said the region's booming market paired with a struggling inventory and supply chain issues could be a double-edged sword in 2022.
"In short, 2022 will see a robust market for home sales and property values, but the region must do more to address inventory, ” Sprague said.
Shiflet recommended that potential homebuyers make a decision ahead of predicted increases in interest rates and home prices and said that he hopes local politicians will continue to prioritize affordable housing in the election year.
Still, Shiflet said a record-breaking housing market reflects Austin's growing reputation as a hub for talent, tech jobs and a good quality of life.
"With all the new jobs across the region from exciting companies like Tesla and Samsung, Austin was put on the world’s stage and captured the hearts and attention of so many," Shiflet said. "We are lucky to call Austin our home when it has so much to offer from a great quality of life to a wonderful destination for innovation and opportunity.”
- Austin metro posts $800M in home sales to foreign buyers - austonia ›
- Austin's housing market is hot, but buyers feel burned out - austonia ›
- What $10 million (or more) can get you in Austin real estate right now ›
- Fall breeze begins cooling Austin housing market ›
- Austin luxury real estate market booms in pandemic - austonia ›
- Luxury real estate to get special tax status under 'blight' statute in ... ›