Why Our 78757 Neighbors Have Taken Sides
We all see the construction and traffic that have increased due to Austin’s population growth and increasing urbanization. Locals seem to be adamantly for or against urbanization, leading to the formation of the Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) and Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) movements. There are those fighting rapid urbanization, and those that are beginning to speak out in favor of the changes happening in Austin.
UPDATE: Neighborhood debate over emergency exit
In the latest contention, residents in each neighborhood have differing opinions about a gate that divides the neighborhoods.
In late January 2017, the lock on the gate dividing the communities was cut several times. Those in the Crestview neighborhood want to keep the gate. Children play on the street, and parents fear the street would become a through street heavy with traffic if the lock were to be removed permanently. Some residents of Midtown Commons believe that it may increase wait times for services such as EMS or Fire Rescue in the event of an emergency. Both city departments say that they have a key to the padlock on the gate.
A representative from the Midtown commons neighborhood says that this has been an ongoing debate for several years. Yelling matches have occurred in neighborhood meetings. Some have called Midtown Commmon’s residents cyber bullies on the social media app NextDoor.
Now Midtown Commons has proposed adding traffic calming fixtures if the gate is removed.
We’ll be waiting to see what happens to the gate that’s dividing these communities in more ways than one.
Midtown Commons and Urbanization
The Midtown Commons apartments are located in Austin’s Crestview neighborhood. The apartments are well-known because of their association will the MetroRail. This subdivision was built in an attempt to draw passengers to the MetroRail, and was built through a partnership with developers.
YIMBY locals believe that urbanization brings not only efficient public transportation, but safer neighborhoods. NIMBY locals argue that rapid urbanization is only hurting Austin. So, who is right?
Benefits of Urbanization for Austinites
Those YIMBY locals that support urbanization have many persuasive arguments that explain how urbanization could make Austin better. Among them are organizations like Bike Austin, who advocate for Bike friendly and alternative transportation routes. Among these is the Crestview/Highland Urban Trail which stretches between the MetroRail stations and is lined with attractive landscaping and trees placed between the rail and the busy roadway to protect cyclists and pedestrians.
- Convenience of goods and services: urbanization will bring more businesses into local communities, and an increase in the population of a community will give more money back into the community.
- Public Transportation: with more people comes a need for more reliable public transportation. With a better bus and train system implemented in Austin, traffic and toxic emissions could decrease by putting fewer cars on the road. Say good bye to that terrible traffic!
- More social integration: urbanized areas experience more social integration of people from different ethnic backgrounds, creating a more compassionate, understanding, and social environment.
- Increase in job availability: with more urbanization and businesses comes more job availability. With one business comes numerous jobs, creating a city with a much lower number of unemployed citizens.
- More health and education services: bigger and more populous cities often have more medical and educational services. Urbanization often leads to improved education and health services, improving the lives of locals.
Will Urbanization Damage Austin?
- NIMBY locals feel very differently, and believe that urbanization will cause more harm than good. Here are some problems that come from urbanization.
- Increases in cost: with urbanization come increases in rent and other goods and services. Obviously no one likes spending more money on something that used to cost them much less.
- More corporations: larger businesses have already begun to trickle into Austin, and although they create more jobs, they push out local businesses.
- Increase in competition: although more businesses bring more jobs, the balance between people moving to Austin and job availability is uneven. There is a great deal of competition in the job market because of the increasing population.
- Environmental effects: a higher population leads to more toxic emissions and the rapid construction leads to the destruction of local land and habitats.
- More crashes: with more drivers on the roads, Austin faces not only terrible traffic, but more car and bike crashes resulting in more vehicle related deaths and injuries.
How Austin Moves Forward without Accident
YIMBY supporters advocate for initiatives such as those proposed by organizations such as Bike Austin, where alternative transportation and public transportation initiatives reduce the number of cars on the road, and reduce the number of accidents each year. With 2015 marked as Austin’s deadliest, whether or not we wanted it something has changed. How would you advise Austin City Council and land planners on what to do in your neighborhood?
Do you believe in alternative modes of transportation such as the YIMBY supporters, or do you advocate against a major public transportation hub in your back yard? Land planners and city officials will be tackling these issues in years to come – if you want to speak out you can follow Bike Austin’s neighborhood initiatives on “complete streets” or get involved at City Council meetings.