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Watson reveals housing platform

Friday, July 22, 2022 by Elizabeth Pagano

Former state Sen. Kirk Watson, who is currently running for mayor, announced his housing platform Thursday in a seven-point plan that has some very specific ideas for the future. Echoing past sentiments, Watson has vowed to “scrub Austin’s development review process” and “use every tool in the toolbox to expand housing options” in pursuit of fixing Austin’s housing emergency. Watson’s plan also calls for some solutions that are much more novel. Notably, one point would let each City Council district establish its own code reforms, in a wager that adopting 10 land use codes will be easier to accomplish than the failed, yearslong attempt to adopt a single land use code. “I propose that the best way to make progress is to stop trying to  force every Austin district to adopt the same type of code reforms, and instead allow each Council member to bring forward a set of district-specific reforms,” writes Watson on his campaign website. The candidate also proposes throwing out a vision plan for East Austin’s Walter E. Long Park (referred to as “Lake Walter E. Long”) and, instead, building a mixed-use, transit-oriented development on the land, in the style of the city’s Mueller development. We will, of course, dive into the details of the plan in the months to come. On Twitter, Watson invited all Austinites to do so as well, encouraging everyone to reach out to the campaign with “reaction, perspective or proposals.”

The seven components of Watson’s campaign are laid out below, and more information can be found here.

  1. Scrub Austin’s development review process
  2. Temporarily cut targeted development fees in half
  3. Let Council districts adopt their own code reforms
  4. Reward neighborhoods that adopt pro-housing reforms
  5. Launch a Central Texas housing partnership
  6. Create a master-planned community at Lake Walter E. Long
  7. Use every tool in the toolbox to expand housing options

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