Environmental groups support increased density in codeNEXT for central Austin


I’m a great admirer of Bill Bunch and his work with SOS, but his views on this subject are not only at odds with other environmental groups; they’re contradictory:

This doesn’t mean all environmentalists are embracing CodeNext, however.

Bill Bunch, the executive director of the Save Our Springs Alliance, said Austin environmentalists are broadly in favor of denser development. He believes the tracts that best lend themselves to such development are undeveloped parcels on the outskirts of town. However, the market tends to encourage sprawling subdivisions of single-family homes in those areas, he said.

“Undeveloped parcels on the outskirts of town” are the precise cause of “sprawling subdivisions of single-family homes.” The whole point of urban density is to minimize that sprawl – and btw a lot of it is being built directly on top of the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, runoff from which poses a direct threat to Barton Springs (and its famous salamander saved by SOS) as well as a number of other endangered species.

“The Evolve coalition, which includes Environment Texas, wants to scrape the central city neighborhoods and put density there while allowing sprawl to continue at the suburban fringe,” Bunch said. “In our view it is upside down.”

In my view this is a gross distortion of the truth. Evolve Austin does not want to allow continued sprawl along Austin’s fringe – that’s what Bunch is suggesting should happen! It’s also considerable hyperbole to suggest that Evolve wants to “scrape central city neighborhoods.” They want CodeNEXT to allow for the development of moderate density in core neighborhoods, instead of the single-family homes that presently consume 95% of its land.

I’d love to know how exactly Bunch reconciles his pro-environmental beliefs with policies that are anything but. I honestly can’t think of anyone else in environmental circles who supports any kind of development on top of virgin suburban land that’s currently home mostly to small farms and ranches – and that goes double for development on top of what is easily the state’s most important aquifer, one that is currently the ONLY municipal water source for the city of San Antonio.

1 Like

I emailed SOS to ask for more information on what led them to coming to this conclusion. I have supported the organization in the past as they have done a lot of good for our region but it certainly seems like now they are completely backwards on this stance and supporting the status quo of sprawl is counter to everything SOS should stand for.