There’s a war going on in Austin, and it’s not over who serves the best breakfast taco or which music festival has or hasn’t gone mainstream. It may in fact be the fiercest fight going on in Austin right now, with the outcome deciding the future of this growing city in ways that eclipse virtually every other issue.
It’s a war waged over a single word. A word that has become a dirty word in some circles and a mantra in others.
It’s the ‘D’ word, for density.
Austin is growing fast. With an average of 157 people moving to Austin every day, those people need to go somewhere
That’s where the battle begins. Pro-density urbanists want to direct that growth into Austin’s core, densifying neighborhoods that are more suburban in character, creating walkable environments based around vertical construction and public transportation. They argue that density is more sustainable than car-oriented suburban sprawl. They also argue that it reflects the current demand for urban lifestyles, a demand which has pushed the price of centralized housing out of the reach of many Austinites.
Those against increased density, on the other hand, argue that packing more people into central Austin neighborhoods will decrease the quality of life in these areas and ruin the character that’s existed there for decades. They cite conflicts over parking, noise, crowding, and a lack of investment in infrastructure as examples of how more density leads to more problems.
With the City of Austin currently undertaking a major rewrite of its land development code, the fight has reached a fever pitch. While both sides clearly have legitimate arguments, their disagreements often revolve around a lack of clear communication.
One question that neither side seems to have expressed is their vision of how dense Austin should be.
In order to give some more context around this question, SpareFoot looked at how Austin’s density compares to other cities in the US and around the world, mapping out how much of Austin the population would occupy if they lived as densely as these other cities.
Via SpareFoot Austin
Well, South by Southwest 2015 (SXSW 2015) is upon us, with the interactive portion of the festivities kicking off 10 days of parties, presentations, concerts, film screenings and more.
The weather is not very conducive to a festival just yet, but we are expected to start seeing glimpses of the sun by the time SXSWi starts. It looks like we’ll have a fantastic weekend by the time the week plays out.
The festival brings hundreds of thousands of tourists to the Texas capitol city each year, and it sounds like 2015 may be the biggest year of attendance ever. If you are coming to town, you need to be ready for a logistical challenge.
At least you get to deal with that amidst some amazing activities and music, and in one of the best cities in the world. Yes, I’m biased as a local resident, but then again, there’s a huge reason I live here. It’s pretty awesome.
Anyway, for the folks who are coming to visit, we came across the following infographic from Space Chimp Media that is a great basic survival guide for all of the various SXSW assortment of attractions. And of course, while in Austin, you absolutely have to eat some breakfast tacos, so that’s included as well.
Enjoy, and welcome to Austin for the next week or so!
Enjoy this guest post and infographic from John Egan of Sparefoot.
Need evidence that Austin is a popular place for transplants? Consider this: From 2010 to 2013, Austin was the fastest-growing city among the 25 largest U.S. cities, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s a 12 percent population hike in just three years.
Put another way: During that period, Austin essentially gained a city within a city, as the population rose by more than 95,000. By the way, that figure doesn’t include booming suburbs like Cedar Park, Georgetown and San Marcos.
“It’s not much of a mystery why Austin has fared so well,” Jordan Weissman wrote on Slate.com. “The city was only lightly affected by the recession, thanks in part to the fact that Texas was generally spared a housing bust, and its local economy is anchored by a state government, a massive university, and a tech scene.”
That helps explain why Austin is the envy of so many other cities, and so many people, around the country.
For years, business professionals from places like Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Wichita, Kansas, have descended on Austin in an effort to replicate at least some of our city’s economic magic. But the real proof of the level of envy regarding Austin rests with the number of people who have moved here, who are planning to move here or who are longing to move here.
In a recent piece for the Wall Street Journal, former Austin resident Tom Davenport, a professor at Babson College near Boston and a former professor at the University of Texas, succinctly captured the allure of Austin. He wrote that Austin is “quite interesting and fun. It’s got a funky, laid-back vibe and there are plenty of informal restaurants with outdoor seating, a river (that they call a lake) to run and bicycle around, and huge quantities of live music.”
Given that description, who wouldn’t be envious of Austin? If you still aren’t sold, this infographic from Austin-based SpareFoot offers 16 reasons why everyone has a case of Austin envy.
Over 150 people move to Austin, TX every day, making it the fastest growing city in the US. With warm weather, friendly dogs, a great business climate, and more breakfast tacos than you can shake a stick at, there’s no wonder why.
Located in Central Texas Hill Country, Austin, TX is a unique reservoir of arts, education, and eclectic people. Though the city has grown from a sleepy college town to one of the country’s largest city, its residents have still managed to “Keep Austin Weird.” Referred to as the Live Music Capital of the World, it’s not hard to walk down any given street on any given night of the week and see a great band playing.
Austin also hosts some of the country’s foremost festivals, including SXSW, ACL, and Fun Fun Fun Fest, all of which contribute to the growing amount of talent relocating to the city. Its business climate enjoys the open policies and low taxes that the rest of Texas has, but it also includes the innovative and hustling nature of the slew of technology startups moving here. ‘Silicon Hills’ is quickly becoming a hotbed for entrepreneurial talent.
At the center of Austin is the University of Texas, which now enrolls over 50,000 students. Saturdays in fall are electric events marked by huge crowds dressed in burnt orange. The school world renowned, topping national rankings in computer science, accounting, and engineering.
Austin is also a unique culinary experience. With events like Truck by TruckWest, the city is heaven for food trailers, with over 1,400 food trailers registered in Travis County alone. Of course, you can also find some of the best barbecue and breakfast tacos in the world in Austin.
There are many reasons people move to Austin, TX. An Austin-based startup, LawnStarter, points out six of them:
Texas has quickly earned a reputation as one of the most profitable states to do business in the US. It deserves this title for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest contributing factors is the flourishing tech industry in its capital city, Austin.
Home to the University of Texas, Austin regularly graduates a plentiful supply of eager students ready to join the workforce and put their knowledge to use. A large number of people visit Austin and never want to leave, and UT students are not impervious to the city’s magnetic pull either.
The University of Texas supplies all areas of the world with accomplished graduates, but a lot of them fall in love with Austin to such an extent that they decide to remain and launch their careers in the same city they received their degrees. This on top of the daily migration of 150 potential employees helps explain why Austin has such a large number of thriving businesses.
One of the biggest reasons Austin is such an attractive spot to start a career is because of the high tech wages provided to workers and the relatively low cost of living. The average tech job in Austin pays over $93,000, but the average housing cost is barely $200K. Not only are homes in Austin affordable, but so is office space, which currently rents at about $25 per square foot.
The venture capital provided by the companies listed in this infographic — over $300 million in the first quarter of 2014 alone — ensures that startup businesses in Austin continue to grow and provide its residents with valuable services and job opportunities.
This infographic acknowledges the companies and supplementary resources that come together to make the existence of startups in Austin possible.
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