Roger Baker :
Austin : Where real estate drives the
political machine

The most profitable short term growth for land speculators is the opposite of a wise policy when you are moving into a period of scarce resources.

Low Density Sprawl

Low density sprawl: this from the Houston area, where they know their sprawl.

By Roger Baker | The Rag Blog | November 17, 2008

What I have been waiting for is here. A real estate insider lays out the basics of what is going on in Austin real estate trends.

Anyone who knows much about Austin politics knows that money made on real estate development drives Austin politics and the prevailing patterns of political special interest influence in this region, largely involving roads, water and growth policy that bankrolls the publicly funded subsidies for the special interests that thrive on existing trends.*

The way the game works is that politicians try to recruit non-union industry so they can keep the houses selling and the suburbs sprawling, which is how the big local money is made. Meanwhile the money made by industry goes back to the corporate headquarters in Round Rock or wherever.

But the most profitable short term growth for land speculators is the very opposite of a wise policy when you are moving unto a period of scarce resources. What is worse is that the politics is wired in such a way as to perpetuate the old system and to shield it from pressure for change, typically in any shorter time frame than it takes the real estate investments to pay off.

Low density sprawl type growth outside the city, never the Travis county taxing area, may not benefit Austin and its residents, but it certainly does benefit those who have planned for roads secured by US 290 E bonds; the toxic waste debt of tomorrow in the making.

*(Rumors and gossip: I think Mayor Will Wynn is a semi-successful downtown ex-developer who married into money. CAMPO chair, ex Chamber of Commerce director/Austin registered lobbyist Sen. Kirk Watson is trying to get 290E built as a toll road out to him and Sen. Armbrister’s Frontier bank in Elgin. TxDOT also needs SH290 E to help bail out its SH 130 bonds tied to its current lack of road capacity from Williamson into Austin. Deals were cut in the expectation that…)

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