Anti-displacement task force offers mixed bag of ideas

The anti-displacement task force released a report with recommendations on combatting displacement due to gentrification. My understanding is that the report is a first draft based on recommendations made by four separate working groups of the task force. So nothing in the report has yet been voted on by the overall task force.

I do not expect the task force to come to any meaningful consensus on many of these issues. Why? Because its members were appointed by Council and therefore mirror the divisions over development that exist on Council. Of the 17 members, seven were appointed by the mayor and 10 were appointed by other Council members. The members predictably represented an ideological mix, including affordable housing advocates, anti-growth neighborhood preservationists and, of course, some guy from the Texas Public Policy Foundation appointed by Troxclair.

Much of the report is straightforward advocacy for policies that most progressives will agree are beneficial: more subsidized housing, more tenant protections, assistance for at-risk tenants and homeowners etc. But then there’s this:

Develop a Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay (also called a Neighborhood Conservation District) requiring new development to meet standards more stringent than the baseline zoning standards as a way of respecting neighborhood scale and character (i.e., slowing or prohibiting out-of-scale development that is occurring).

You can bet that a good number of the task force members won’t be on board with this. Such restrictions might help preserve the architectural character of a neighborhood, but they’re not going to prevent rich people from moving in. Mandating that the area remain off-limits to denser development simply makes it more likely that the neighborhood will eventually become off-limits to lower-income people.

On the other hand, this is a good idea:

Do not take actions that shift the tax burden to renters and small businesses such as increasing the homestead exemption. Any property tax relief should be targeted to populations at risk of displacement.

But again, considering that most of the members were appointed by Council members who have repeatedly voted in favor of a homestead exemption, this recommendation is going nowhere.

The task force is meeting on Nov. 9 to start working on a final report.

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