City Council candidate Laura Pressley was nice enough to respond thoughtfully to the questions that the Northfield Neighborhood Association has been posing to all District 4 and 9 candidates interested in representing our neighborhood. Our questions and Dr. Pressley’s responses are below.
NNA: The city council lowered occupancy limits in an attempt to reduce the proliferation of so-called Stealth Dorms, but this reduction in occupancy limits will only be in place for 2 years. What would be your commitment to following through on that initiative to ensure the preservation of single-family homes into the future?
Pressley: I am 100% committed to the preservation of single-family homes and will ensure we keep the occupancy limits in place. My work on the Austin Neighborhoods’ Council has included maintaining the integrity of our neighborhoods and the zoning that protects that. The root cause and reason why we have so many issues with multiple unrelated adults in a single residence is our affordability challenges. The way to improve our affordability is to stop subsidies to corporations and we can lower our utility rates and fees.
NNA: Austin housing prices have increased dramatically over the past 20 years, raising concerns about both affordability and property taxes. What efforts will you take as a city leader to improve housing opportunities in central Austin for people from economically diverse backgrounds. And what will you do to keep increasing property taxes from driving people out of their homes?
Pressley: I will lead the implementation of a 20% City of Austin Homestead Exemption, lower utility fees, and to pay for these reductions in budget revenue, we need to stop subsidies to corporations.
From a housing standpoint, there is an article that was done by The Austin Business Journal, that states the housing shortage is actually being driven by funding limitations. As a policy, the City Council can define new zone categories such as for properties for smaller homes in the range of 700-800 sq. ft. that includes requirements for parking on the property. Developers don’t build such housing stock due to the profit margins not being as large as larger homes, etc. After WWII, several neighborhoods (Crestview, etc.) sprung up that were based on the idea of affordable homes for families that were smaller in size, etc. We should consider this model.
NNA: The City of Austin started a process to improve Airport Boulevard, but there has been no progress in recent years. What would be your commitment to continuing that process?
Pressley: There are some issues with Airport Blvd and the existing Neighborhood Plans as they relate to increased population density, parking requirements, and layout of Airport Blvd with proposed medians. Developers, businesses need to honor the Neighborhood plans.
NNA: What are the most important improvements and initiatives that you feel would benefit constituents in the Northfield Neighborhood?
Pressley: The main improvements I feel that would benefit Northfield is to address affordability with a 20% Homestead Exemption, reduced utility fees, stopping subsidies to corporations, protecting single-family housing zoning (which in turn will support schools in the area), and development that honors the Neighborhood Plans and parking requirements.