Waterloo Greenway is the latest venue to announce a postponement, following suit in the 2021 edition of COVID-fueled cancellations.
The new urban parks system that was to debut Waterloo Park this weekend announced Thursday morning that it made the "difficult but necessary" decision to postpone opening day celebrations. The day's festivities had been announced in May, but as COVID cases surge this month, it follows other events like Austin Pride in postponing.
August 14th will not look like what we had planned, but it will still represent a momentous occasion for Austin. Though we wish we could celebrate the years of hard work with the fanfare this park and our community deserve, your health and safety are our number one priority. pic.twitter.com/dxYlOJzVGi
— Waterloo Greenway (@WaterlooGW) August 12, 2021
"We truly believe this is in the best interest of all staff, volunteers, artists, partners and countless community members who have helped bring this park to life," the park spokespeople said on Twitter.
There is a silver lining: the park will still open to the public, sans festivities, this Saturday at 10 a.m.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony, land dedication, daytime programming and nighttime concert showcase, all part of CommUNITY Day festivities, will be moved to a later date. Waterloo Park, located by East 15th, Red River, East 12th and Trinity streets, had already had multiple events planned in September as well, which will now be in question.
The announcement comes after the park had already seen delays in opening. The park broke ground in 2017 and was set to open in the spring of this year before it was pushed back until the end of summer.
In the interim, Waterloo Greenway is following local, state and CDC health guidance and said it encourages guests to do the same while visiting.
"The opening of this park comes at a critical time for the community, and access to outdoor space has never been more important for physical, mental and emotional health," park organizers said in an email. "The reopening of Waterloo Park marks a momentous occasion for the community, with 11 acres of revitalized green space for all Austinites to explore and connect with nature, in the heart of downtown."
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Airbnb is moving to make its COVID-induced ban on house parties permanent—but from the affordable housing shortage to
"Under 25" bans, the short-term rental service may be losing its shine in Austin.
In 2019, the company moved to prohibit “open-invite” parties that were advertised on social media and “chronic party houses." By 2020, its ban broadened to all parties and events "until further notice," which was officially coded into policy Tuesday.
From August 2020 to January 2022, Airbnb denied over 48,000 reservations in Texas from serial party offenders, and around 3,300 reservations were declined through the "Under 25" system in Austin.
For some Austinites, the party ban may be the last straw.
Society has progressed past the need for Airbnb's https://t.co/44rTBDQPX1
— Caleb (@ipleadthef1th) June 20, 2022
But Airbnb has already caught plenty of flack for its possible contributions to the nation's housing shortage.
In Austin, short-term rentals are required to be registered through the city. And while the city reports around 1,900 rental units in the rental registry, according to city demographer Lila Valencia, data collection site Inside Airbnb has tracked close to 12,000 in the area.
Inside Airbnb founder Murray Cox said that too many Airbnbs in Austin could shrink the available housing market.
"If the housing units (have) been taken off the market, that's displacing people, it's making housing more scarce. And it's probably driving the cost of housing up," Cox told Austonia.
Short-term rentals could also eat into new housing in Austin, from apartment buildings to accessory dwelling units on single-family properties.
"If new housing has been built, and it's being tied to Airbnb, that's also really just servicing the tourism industry as opposed to the housing needs of the city," Cox said.
Because a large portion of its customers are tourists, Airbnbs may also tend to crowd around desirable areas, such as downtown or South Congress. South Congress's average rent now rivals New York City, according to Austin Business Journal.
"When that happens, you're taking away housing units in an already densely-populated area where there is more of a shortage of housing," Valencia said. "And so then the people who historically once lived there are no longer able to afford to live there, and the unit itself isn't even going to somebody who could afford to rent it on a more permanent basis, but rather to people who are coming in and visiting for a weekend or two."
Despite the pandemic—and growing frustration among homeowners and renters—Airbnb saw a record year in 2021. But two of Airbnb's billionaire founders have quietly sold $1.2 billion in company stock in the last year, a possible premonition of what's to come.
And while some have created an Airbnb "empire"—one company owns 338 available listings in Austin—many priced-out Austinites are fed up with big investors' influence in the tight housing market.
These are not imperialist conquerors; they’re over leveraged milk toast millennials who probably borrowed money from their wealthy boomer parents and be bailed out by the same #housingmarket#airbnb#recessionpic.twitter.com/K6DM8bT730
— Texas Runner (@OGtexasrunner) June 21, 2022
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