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Garza and Adler defend fee waivers

Monday, October 31, 2016 by Jack Craver

Neither Mayor Steve Adler nor City Council Member Delia Garza accepted the premise of a question they were asked about affordability at a forum hosted by the South Austin Neighborhood Alliance last week. The question that was prepared by the group, and read by SANA President Ken Jacob, referred to fee waivers that the city has offered developers in exchange for affordable housing commitments – such as in the case of the controversial Pilot Knob planned unit development – as a “monetary incentive” that “basically shifts the burden from one group of residents to another, since taxes and fees have to be increased to pay for the incentive and the developer comes out ahead.” Garza said that she often feels the term “fee waiver” is misleading, since the city is still requiring the developer to pay the same amount of money but is directing it to affordable housing, rather than to the water utility, for instance. Adler echoed her comments, expressing regret that there are “so many people walking about thinking that Pilot Knob was about giving a break to a developer.” Rather, he said, “The developer pays the money to the city. The only question is, when the city gets the money, what does it do with it?”

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