Parkland Fees Letter to City Council

August 16, 2022

Dear Mayor and City Council Members,

The Austin Housing Coalition is writing in support of the proposed budget amendment by Councilmember Natasha Harper-Madison to freeze the parkland dedication fees for fiscal year 2022-2023. We also support reconvening stakeholders to review and provide recommendations on ways to improve the parkland dedication fee process.

Although many affordable housing projects are exempt from paying parkland dedication fees, we recognize that the City needs housing for all Austin residents at all income levels. We recognize that the City is in a housing crisis and fee increases doubling year after year only serve to exacerbate the situation. This fee increase will have an even greater impact on mixed income housing by dis-incentivizing market-rate projects from utilizing density bonus programs that would provide much-needed unsubsidized affordable units, as made evident by Housing and Planning’s negative affordability impact statement released recently. Furthermore, the combined fee increase from last year and this year’s budget represents an over 200% increase in the fee, resulting in an unpredictable regulatory environment for projects that take multiple years to build. Where a recent study by the Texas A&M Real Estate Center indicated that Austin’s fees are already 186% (or roughly $ 27,000) higher than other Texas metros for infill / missing middle style development, [1] and where for every $1,000 increase in the price of a home in the Austin MSA, 791 families are priced out, [2] we must scrutinize carefully any increases to home prices that equate to thousands of families being priced out of our City.

While we recognize the importance of green spaces for the wellbeing of Austinite’s, we acknowledge that Austin has almost double the number of acres than is nationally recommended per 1,000 residents, while falling far short of meeting its housing affordability goals. We urge City Council to consider the impact that the proposed fee increase will have on our already strained housing supply. If we are to meet the stated goals of the Strategic Housing Blueprint, we must view every policy decision through a pro-housing lens.

Thank you for the opportunity to weigh in on this important issue. We understand that the Council is faced with many conflicting priorities and appreciate the time and service that each of you have given to make the City of Austin a better place.

Brittany Baize
2022 Austin Housing Coalition Chair