Architects at City Council

As I read the Statesman's article this morning about South Shore Central, I thought I could post two thoughts about why planning and design is critical to a safe and healthy community. ////

(1) AUSTIN CITY COUNCIL agenda has been overflowing with opportunities for architects to help transform the built environment, and the policies and legislation affecting that environment. Over the past couple of years, IMAGINE AUSTIN presented a once-in-a-generation chance to assess the foundational themes of Austin’s regulatory system. The work continues to implement the plan so that future regulations can orient in a consistent direction. “The AIA believes that planning and design that integrates transportation, housing, and land-use policies at the neighborhood, community and regional scales are prerequisites to the creation of safe, attractive, walkable and sustainable communities… AIA Austin therefore advocates for City Council to approve the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan to insure that the City of Austin has a unified vision moving forward.” ////

(2) What appears to be a surge in the complexity and number of projects submitted to CITY OF AUSTIN PLAN REVIEW has combined with a reduced staff to cause significant DELAYS in review times.

The City of Austin issued 96,205 building/trade/demo permits last year with roughly 30 intake/plan/zoning reviewers of various types. Given average valuation of $7782, that is $2.1 million invested in the community per reviewer per month. Since every $1 million investment in construction generates 20 jobs, TO CLEAR ONE MONTH'S BACKLOG GENERATES 42 LOCAL JOBS. It also provides substantial additional revenue to the City in the form of fees, taxes, and services. Furthermore it widens the path for projects to get built and inspected with consistent regulatory oversight of public health, safety, and welfare.

The AIA Austin Advocacy committee presented concerns to the Mayor and City Council resulting in a Resolution to address bottlenecks. This is a sign that our Advocacy Committee has participated meaningfully and successfully in just the type of core activity for which it was formed.

We want to thank the office of Sheryl Cole for taking the time to hear our concerns. We commend Greg Guernsey and the Planning and Development Review Department for their diligence and professionalism. May the AIA continue to be a voice for positive change in their resources and the overall review process.

Thanks to for permit totals and the office of Greg Guernsey for average valuation. Not all permits require plan review; "there is no direct relationship between the number of plans reviewed, permits issued and valuation."