YIMBYtown 5: Austin Texas!

What we now refer to Austin sits on traditional village sites of the the Tonkawa, the Apache, the Ysleta del sur Pueblo, the Lipan Apache Tribe, the Texas Band of Yaqui Indians, the Coahuitlecan, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, the Kickapoo Tribe of Texas, Carrizo & Comecrudo, Tigua Pueblo, Caddo, Comanche, Kiowa, Wichita, Chickasaw, and Waco peoples.

This March, YIMBYtown 2023 Site Selection Committee announced that AURA has successfully bid to host the next upcoming YIMBYtown conference this fall/winter in Austin, Texas.

“We are delighted to host YIMBYtown 2023 in the heart of Texas” shared Felicity Maxwell, AURA board member and YIMBYtown application chair, “It is a fantastic opportunity to gather YIMBY leaders from across the country so they can see firsthand the housing opportunities and challenges faced by the second largest state in the nation.”

“I am absolutely stoked that AURA will be hosting the fifth iteration of the YIMBYtown conference in Austin,” said Aaron Brown, a member of the 2023 Site Selection Committee and co-Mayor of the 2022 YIMBYtown conference in Portland.  “AURA is clearly passionate about exploring the intersections of zoning reform policy and advocacy with overlapping movements for housing justice in a rapidly growing and changing city.  They are the perfect fit for the continued growth and evolution of the YIMBYtown conference, and we’re excited for them to share their city (and their tacos) with the burgeoning national movement for housing abundance.”

Meet AURA, the next YIMBYtown host

AURA is an all-volunteer grassroots urbanist organization founded in 2013 focused on building an Austin for everyone by improving land use and transportation through policy analysis, public involvement, and political engagement.  The organization is dedicated to a vision of an Austin where everybody is welcome and everybody’s interests matter: young and old, rich and poor, renter and homeowner, healthy and sick, citizen and immigrant, lifelong resident and new arrival.  AURA’s successful bid for the conference includes plans to work alongside local organizations such as Austin Justice Coalition, Planning Our Communities, and others.  Significant event support will also be provided by Capital A Housing, who partnered with AURA as part of the YIMBYtown 2023 application process.

Austin has seen dramatic population growth over the past ten years leading to record high housing prices and the ensuing need for dramatic housing reform.  Throughout that time, AURA has been the foremost local pro-housing, pro-transit grassroots organization, working to create a more equitable, abundant, and future forward city.

“We are immensely proud of the work our organization has done to loosen housing restrictions, support generational transit opportunities, and ensure we are creating an Austin for everyone,” states Zach Faddis, AURA Board President.  “Hosting YIMBYtown 2023 validates our grassroots efforts and gives us the opportunity to demonstrate how towns and cities across the country can benefit from the reforms we have championed.”

AURA recent efforts have focused on City Council elections, parking reform, expansion of the University Neighborhood Overlay (UNO), equitable transit-oriented development, and advocating for the best outcomes regarding Project Connect, the recently approved comprehensive transit plan for Austin.  These efforts mirror work being done by pro-housing groups across the state, highlighting the increasing need for housing and transit advocacy in Texas.

YIMBYtown Austin will be a unique opportunity to discuss the local challenges and successes Austin urbanists have experienced and how they compare to similar fast growing mid-size cities, as well as look at the larger, nationwide picture of how the pro-housing movement has changed the discussion of policy needs across the country. YIMBYtown Austin will also be an opportunity to focus on how equity is too often not made a key aspect of the YIMBY movement and how we can better align our goals to truly build cities for all.

“As part of YIMBYtown 2023, AURA plans to convene the first ever state gathering of pro-housing, pro-transit groups in Texas and beyond,” shares Felicity Maxwell.  “We know housing restrictions and suburban sprawl impact every growing city in the South and Southwest.  We are looking forward to connecting with fellow state and regional housing leaders to share best practices and begin building critical coalitions.”

Previously convened in Boulder (2016), Oakland (2017), Boston (2018), and Portland (2022), YIMBYtown is the national gathering of the pro-housing “yes in my backyard” movement.  It’s a three-day conference for grassroots community organizers, political leaders, educators, housing providers, and activists to identify obstacles, create solutions, and share resources and strategies.  YIMBYtown offers inspiration, tools, and a network for those working to advance abundant, affordable housing and sustainable development in cities across the United States, Canada, and beyond.  Previous iterations of the conference have hosted speakers including Oregon Governor Tina Kotek, California State Senator Scott Wiener, The Atlantic writer Jerusalem Demsas, Brookings Institute’s Jenny Scheutz, and Harvard University economist Edward Glaeser.

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