Friends of Hyde Park Endorses Celia Israel for Mayor

Austin Needs a Mayor Who Understands The Urgency of Our Housing Crisis

Austin is at a pivotal moment in its history.

Amidst a nationwide housing crisis, the city is making the incomprehensible decision to double down on its history of exclusionary zoning. Instead of embracing the fact that reversing our city-imposed development bottleneck and greenlighting the building of housing in all its forms, we’re still producing a trickle of units when we need a flood. A drastic increase in our housing supply is the only logical, and more importantly equitable, way forward.

For that reason, when it comes to the November mayoral election, Friends of Hyde Park endorses Celia Israel, the former Texas House representative and longtime Travis County resident. We believe she is the only candidate who understands the urgency we must have as a community when it comes to addressing our housing crisis and has the plans ready to tackle it.

At her January campaign kickoff, Israel proclaimed that “every week will be housing and affordability week,” and indicated her commitment to increasing not just housing but access to transit and public health infrastructure. “This election is about who can afford to live here,” she said, “and who gets to decide.”

Israel is calling her housing plan Home for All, which directly calls out Austin’s long history of fighting housing development and charts a new path forward. This plan would streamline the permitting process, leverage public land for housing development, connect transit to housing development, revise and loosen the standards around accessory dwelling units, and tackle nuisance parking requirements.

In other words, Israel’s housing plan is a bold and comprehensive call for action on several critical fronts in our crisis. It doesn’t placate the housing skeptics who have over the decades created and maintained a city that is insular, lacking diversity, and economically segregated. Instead, it calls out the problems we face and proposes decisive action to fix them.

Last month, when City Council approved the $350 million housing bond that voters will consider in November, Israel congratulated her colleagues on the achievement. “Austin, housing justice is on the ballot this November. Big time.” Austin deserves a leader who will be unapologetic in framing Austin’s housing troubles as what they truly are – an existential crisis.

Israel is already hard at work drawing contrast between her approach and that of her opponent, former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson. Watson’s plan suggests “localizing” development decisions by allowing each council district to come up with their own proposed set of development code reforms. “Watson’s plan allows city council members and individual neighborhoods to veto housing proposals for working families they deem to not fit their neighborhood aesthetic,” Israel said in a statement. The policy would be a return to the racist redlining in Austin’s past, she said, in which “the most affluent neighborhoods didn’t have to share power with their more marginalized neighbors.”

“To solve a crisis, you need bold leadership with an inclusive spirit that brings everyone to the table,” Israel continued. “You don’t send them to their corners in a segregated city. Austin deserves better.” With that sentiment, Friends of Hyde Park heartily agrees. And that is why Celia Israel is our choice for Austin mayor. We urge you to consider voting the same way.

Information About Friends of Hyde Park

Friends of Hyde Park is currently the largest neighborhood association in our neighborhood with over 500 current members (approximately 50% renters and 50% homestead homeowners). Friends of Hyde Park advocates for more affordable housing and a more walkable, bikeable, inclusive, environmentally sustainable, and transit friendly neighborhood.

Board of Directors of Friends of Hyde Park

Pete Gilcrease
Thomas Ates
Matt Desloge
Teresa Griffin
Tania Oropeza
Scott Snyder