Podcast interview with Ricardo Zavala

Texas growth and its effect on neighborhoods & civic groups w/ Ricardo Zavala, of Dove Springs Proud

Ricardo Zavala, founder of Dove Springs Proud shares the dynamic changes in Dove Springs, Texas and how urban development and taxation impact inner city communities.  The episode highlights the importance of developer engagement with communities, discussing ways in which builders can work alongside residents to enhance inner cities like Dove Springs for the benefit of all.

Texas growth and its effect on neighborhoods & civic groups w/ Ricardo Zavala, of Dove Springs Proud Read More »

Podcast - Reviving communities through non profits

Reviving Community News through a Nonprofit Model with the Austin Monitor’s Joel Gross

Joel Gross, CEO of the Austin Monitor, offers a front-and-center look into Austin’s increasing need for community news. With a nonprofit model, Joel is helping sustain the information landscape within a city rapidly growing into a metro region. Joel’s first mission is to make community news more accessible so that locals can stay informed and engaged, having a voice in the decisions made where they live.  

Timecoded Guide: 

[5:02] Mission of the Austin Monitor 

[7:14] Sustaining a nonprofit news model 

[10:26] Access to local news 

[14:05] Future of the media landscape 

[16:34] Big issues in Austin 

[22:33] Austin monitor’s role in the community 


What do you see as the mission of the Austin monitor? 

The Austin Monitor has a broad mission but with two main facets: informing and engaging the community. Joel says that, with this, comes a prosperous community when it is made stronger by people feeling more connected. Importantly, people gain a sense of agency with community news when they have more of a voice and can go from being informed to being engaged.  

“That dynamic of becoming aware, understanding, following, and taking action—That’s what we believe is a throughline to a strong, civically healthy community.” 

 The new nonprofit news model  

As newspapers have fallen to the wayside and community news has given way to broader outlets, community news has needed a new business model to thrive again. Fortunately, the nonprofit news model also makes information accessible, removing paywalls in the process. Joel says that this was the first vision of the Austin Monitor. He says that while the highly competitive media landscape has largely dissolved local news, the nonprofit media model is proving to be a sustainable solution.  

“We want to do it for all so what they’re doing at the state level, you’re doing that at the local level. And I think we’re starting to see that happen in cities across the country” 

What do you see as the current big issues in Austin? 

Austin is experiencing an acceleration of population and economic growth. Yet the city itself remains designed for a certain population size. The core issues that are normally present in a city, Joel says, reach a boiling point when the city cannot keep up with the growth. Through elections, big changes, and new developments, being informed and engaged in the community is more important than ever: which leads to a healthier community. 

“What we want is people to feel like they are involved in that change, that they can add their voice, that change that they are being able to shape the community that they want to be in, that they want their kids and grandkids to be in.” 

How does having access to local news make for a healthy community? 

Joel says that there should not be an inequitable barrier to access the information needed to make decisions within a local community. The current information about a local community informs what the trajectory will look like for months and years ahead. Importantly, the Austin Monitor has informed many local leaders and those involved with the local government. The next step, Joel says, is to reach a more general audience, the rest of those living and working in Austin.  

“Right now we’re trying to get what we call that next level of audience—the people that are curious about what’s going on in the city but may not know where to begin.” 



Keep up with Joel on LinkedIn. 

Visit the Austin Monitor. 

If you enjoyed this podcast, check out more episodes on Audible, iHeart, and Youtube 

Learn more about the Bukowski Law Firm and the Greater Texas Podcast on our website and Youtube channel.

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Podcast - Image - Glenn Hart - Company town

Returning to The “Company Town” and Housing Austinites with Glenn Hart

Sean and Glenn catch up on exciting things happening in Austin and the unique challenges stemming from the city’s recent growth. Glenn is the Director for Business Development at Broaddus Construction and also hosts the BoomATX podcast. Glenn shares his take on accommodating Austin’s growth and how the city should heed the influence of people like Elon Musk. To Glenn, most of it comes down to supply and demand: the question is if Austin can allow companies to provide the supply.  

Timecoded Guide: 

[00:00] Start of episode 

[10:18] Housing Prices in Austin 

[14:05] Elon Musk in Austin 

[16:09] The “Company Town” 

[21:36] The Future of Housing in Austin 

[25:24] The Robin Hood Recapture 


Is Elon Musk making a positive development in this market?  

Glen thinks that Musk has already positively contributed to Austin’s development. With his speed to the market in Tesla’s manufacturing and plans to expedite downtown Austin transportation infrastructure, Glen thinks that the city should continue to allow Musk to build and develop in and around Austin.  

“We should be encouraging it and allowing him to do it. For some reason, the city and public entities are all for all options until it’s not their option.” 


What do you see as the future of housing in Austin?  

Glenn says that, as developers have no incentive to discount their costs, they can provide as much housing as the city allows but can only sell at the market rate. Meanwhile, there is no shortage of people moving to Austin, Glenn says that Austin simply needs more housing of all types. The challenge in meeting the demand and providing more supply are things like zoning, permitting, and city approvals, Glenn says.  

“What has been able to get approved and zoned and under construction is such a long runway that’s built into the limited supply we have, and, like I said, there’s just no shortage of people wanting to move to Austin.” 


What are your thoughts on the Robin Hood Recapture?  

The Robin Hood Recapture Law is a Texas House bill that aims to recapture excess local property tax from wealthier school districts and supply other school districts with funds needed to reach state entitlement. Glenn says that a lot of money collected from property taxes in wealthier districts does not go back into education. He says that while it may not be easy, Robin Hood Recapture is the simplest way to address affordability in Austin.  

“We’re paying two times as much to educate our kids in Austin, that we’re getting services going out for the local area, that’s a good chunk of money, that doesn’t put more money into the pool to fund education across the state.” 



Keep up with Glenn on LinkedIn 

Tune in to the BoomATX podcast.  

Visit Broaddus Construction at their website 

If you enjoyed this podcast, check out more episodes on Audible, iHeart, and Youtube 

Learn more about the Bukowski Law Firm and the Greater Texas Podcast on our website and Youtube channel. 

Returning to The “Company Town” and Housing Austinites with Glenn Hart Read More »

Robert Lee Image

Building for Austin’s Housing Demand with Pearlstone’s Robert Lee


Pearlstone CEO Robert Lee talks on the ever-growing population rise in Austin while addressing issues such as rising housing costs and whether or not subsidized housing should be a main focus moving forward in the city. Having grown a family business, worked in multiple companies, and lived in dense cities, Robert brings a lot to the table in terms of hashing out how to fulfill Austin’s housing needs and accommodate the city’s growth.

Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Start of episode

[05:54] Affordable housing

[11:34] Fixing housing market issues

[14:08] Keeping up with demand

[20:37] Growth of housing costs

[26:45] Austin’s rapid population growth

Affordable Housing in Austin

Robert speaks on how housing real estate is different from any other type of real estate. Housing is a fundamental need, Robert says, that this form of real estate addresses. He says that he’s worried about the current environment in Austin not being able to meet the need for affordable housing in the city.

“We came into this market short, we’re going to come out of this market shorter, there will be a day of reckoning, and we’re not going to be ready.”

What needs to be done to fix the market?

Robert starts out by saying that one step his business has taken in the housing landscape is changing the way they refer to housing. Pearlstone uses the term “attainable” to describe housing that might typically be called “affordable” to avoid the assumption that “affordable” always means a subsidized product. By focusing on upper-scale workforce housing, Pearlstone was able to reach a demand in Austin and believes that, moving forward, density will be essential in filling more housing.

“As a producer, I do not believe that unless the market rate units are involved, that we’re going to be able to get there on just subsidized housing. I think that’s been proven.”

What makes the current housing demand unsustainable?

Robert says that, with the current demand, it will be impossible to meet the need for attainable housing with only subsidized housing. Spreading that cost for every unit means that the average price goes higher and that many working people will not be able to afford housing. Overall, Robert says that Pearlston’s mission has always been to bring the most attainable market rate prices.

“Every subsidize unit that we have to do on our building means I have to spread that cost to the other units—which raises the cost to the average Joe. And so there are first-year doctors first-year lawyers, professors—usually younger ones—less-established, that are having serious difficulty finding housing where they need to be. “

Difficulties in developing

While Robert mentions the efforts for equity in housing, he says that the reality of business puts up a lot of barriers to affordable housing through rules and regulations. He says that the city has a vibrant future ahead, but must focus on having an “any and all” approach to development in which housing is broadly provided for the city’s population at large instead of narrowed down.

“When you do a development, you’re not king of the world, you can’t just do something on your own, you have to do it with partners, lending partners, and finance partners, construction partners.”



Keep up with Robert on LinkedIn.

Visit the Pearlstone website.

If you enjoyed this podcast, check out more episodes on AudibleiHeart, and Youtube.

Learn more about the Bukowski Law Firm and the Greater Texas Podcast on our website and Youtube channel.


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Greater Texas Episode 11

Repurposing Hotels as a Homelessness Solution with Foundation Communities’ Walter Moreau

Walter Moreau, Executive Director of Foundation Communities, brings the increasingly relevant topic of homelessness and housing in Austin to the pod. After 25 years in this Executive Director role, Walter has seen the housing situation of Austin change from thriving to barely surviving. As rent skyrockets and supply cannot keep up with demand, Walter and his team at Foundation Communities aim to utilize hotels and other existing architecture to make affordable housing more accessible to Austinians citywide.


Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Podcast begins – Repurposing Hotels as a Homelessness Solution

[01:23] Finding passion for nonprofit housing support & services

[06:54] Foundation Communities’ mission for housing, services, & nonprofit programs

[11:04] Understanding different causes of homelessness when addressing housing

[17:44] Central Austin affordable housing & the issues of urban rent hike

[22:29] Inspiring the tech world to get involved in housing & homelessness support


Why don’t you tell us a little bit about Foundation Communities and its mission?

Originally founded in the 1980s, Foundation Communities has focused on housing and services in Austin since the very beginning. Walter explains that it’s one thing to just provide cheap apartments, and another thing entirely to support a community in need of housing, resources, education, and care. Now, with 26 communities under their care, Foundation Communities strives to expand further and encourage affordable housing investments.

“We describe ourselves not just as housing, but housing and services. We’re not interested in just a cheap apartment. We want to provide where it makes sense. The education programs, health programs, financial programs, they’re right outside your doorstep.”


Is the goal to help your residents eventually move out of Foundation Communities, or are you building projects for long-term residents?

Unlike certain community services for homeless individuals, Foundation Communities doesn’t have an expiration date or a time limit on their offerings. There are a myriad of reasons why someone might be homeless, such as losing their job, developing an addiction, suffering from a health problem, or experiencing the loss of a loved one. Walter acknowledges that some families might only need a short stay in an affordable housing unit, but others might need Foundation Communities for life— and that’s completely okay.

“Our tagline is to create housing where families succeed, and success is different. For some families, that may be exiting homelessness. Success is to boost their income, have a stable place to live. Most likely, they’re going to rent for many years, but there’s no time limit.”


Are the projects Foundation Communities works on nearer to the city center, or are you having to go farther out for project locations? 

Not only is getting proper funding a problem for affordable housing in Austin, Foundation Communities also has to get creative with housing locations, such as local churches and closed hotels. Central city locations are especially vital, Walter explains, because of connectivity to medical services and transportation. Residents need to be able to work, live, survive, and thrive in an affordable housing environment to support themselves and their families.

“We want to build as central as we can because there’s better connectivity for services and transportation. In order to build centrally, we’re going to have to get creative and find different kinds of partnerships [with other organizations].”


Developers complain about how long it takes to get projects built in Austin and how expensive it is. Does Foundation Communities run into those issues also? 

Walter is thankful for Austin City Hall’s support of affordable housing, which helps Foundation Communities cut through some of the red tape associated with housing projects within the city. However, where the time, cost, and lack of resources becomes apparent is when Walter compares Austin to other cities and other countries facing massive homelessness issues. There is still a huge gap in areas needing to be served, Walter explains, and the United States needs to pay attention to how much cities like Austin are still struggling to house their residents.

“The group that’s not as committed and involved is tech. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple. They’re having an outsized impact on our demand for housing, driving up costs. Affordable housing is a crisis in Austin. There’s a need for the tech community to step it up.” 


Keep up with Walter Moreau on LinkedIn and the Foundation Communities website

Learn about Foundation Communities on LinkedIn and the Foundation Communities website

If you enjoyed this podcast, check out more episodes on AudibleiHeart, and Youtube

Learn more about the Bukowski Law Firm and the Greater Texas podcast on our website and Youtube channel

Repurposing Hotels as a Homelessness Solution with Foundation Communities’ Walter Moreau Read More »

John Riedie - Solving Austins Artist Housing Crisis

Solving the Austin Artist Housing Crisis with John Riedie

John Riedie, CEO of Austin Creative Alliance (ACA), takes on the tough topic of the arts and cultural crisis in Austin. Gone are the days where the city of Austin was an affordable, alternative environment for weird and wonderful artists nationwide. Now, as Austin becomes one of the most expensive places to live in the country, John’s team at ACA has to step up to advocate for the forgotten artists and arts organizations, and encourage personal and corporate philanthropy to keep Austin’s culture afloat.


Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Podcast begins – Solving the Austin Artist Housing Crisis with John Riedie

[02:10] Supporting artists at the Austin Creative Alliance

[07:22] Affordable housing for Austin’s starving artists

[13:17] Rising commercial real estate prices bankrupt cultural nonprofits

[16:55] Private vs public funding to preserve the weird art of Austin

[22:46] Appealing to businesses for philanthropic art support


What does the Austin Creative Alliance (ACA) do for individual artists and local arts organizations?

As CEO of Austin Creative Alliance, John spends his days supporting both individual artists and arts nonprofits on many different levels. From emergency grants to training opportunities, the landscape of the city of Austin has been kept culturally afloat by the consistent operating support and technical resources that the ACA is able to provide. Alongside finances and resources, the ACA also advocates for art at a city level and applies for public funding.

“We sponsor up to 100 projects. What that means is that we’ll help them raise money, we’ll help them figure out how to pay their bills and make their careers work. And then, we advocate for them at the city level, mostly for resources for arts and culture.”


How are you seeing the individual artists you work with react to the Austin housing crisis? Are artists leaving Austin? 

The luster of Austin’s arts scene is wearing off for many local artists, especially as housing prices rise and rent becomes nearly unaffordable in Austin apartment complexes. Seeking a more affordable environment, artists established in Austin as living outside the city and commuting to work. Meanwhile, younger artists aren’t picking Austin as the place to start their new careers and are picking areas with better funding and housing for artists, like Houston.

“I’ve been in the arts community my entire adult life. We see fewer young artists moving here now. Who would? If you’re a young person who wants to make a career in the arts and you start thinking about where to go, one of the most expensive cities in the country is not on your list.”


What effect has rising commercial real estate prices had on Austin’s arts and cultural nonprofits? What about music venues and performance spaces?

After moving to Austin for college, John watched the continuously growing city of Austin transform from an artist’s mecca to a barely-affordable place to live. In the process, John has seen a lot of performance venues, especially for musicians, and studio spaces go out of business or lose their leases. Not only do artists lose employment when these spaces close, but Austin loses essential cultural venues that are unique to the city.

“I think there’s definitely fewer music venues. I do think having more artists is going to create more spaces because artists are very resourceful and creative people, they’ll make it. So, the more artists you have, the more stuff is going on, no matter what.”


How can we solve some of these problems for local artists? What is philanthropy like in Austin compared to other cities?

While public funding does exist for artists in Austin, John explains that access needs to be expanded and philanthropy is seriously lacking. In terms of fundraising efforts, the old money oil wealth of Houston might not exist in Austin, but personal and commercial wealth absolutely exists in a plentiful way. Businesses should be engaging with the arts philanthropically and, according to John, they desperately need to in order to keep Austin an interesting place to live.

“It’s always a combination of public funding and philanthropic funding. Where Austin falls short is the philanthropic side, so we do well with the public funding, but we haven’t really figured out how to unlock that philanthropy.”


Keep up with John Riedie on LinkedIn

Become an advocate for the arts in Austin on the Austin Creative Alliance website

If you enjoyed this podcast, check out more episodes on AudibleiHeart, and Youtube

Learn more about the Bukowski Law Firm and the Greater Texas podcast on our website and Youtube channel


Solving the Austin Artist Housing Crisis with John Riedie Read More »


Adapting to an Evolving Austin with Srinath Kasturi



This week, Srinath Kasturi joins in to talk about Austin’s rapidly-growing population and what developers, city planners, and everyone in between should do to accommodate Austin’s rise. Srinath is the Executive Vice President at Cadence McShane construction and shares in this episode how he pivoted his career from architecture to construction management—and ended up using both in his career. As the second fastest-growing US city, we also break down infrastructure, transportation, building approval, and more, getting closer to what will make Austin’s swift expansion sustainable.

Timecoded Guide:

[02:15] Srinath’s career start at Cadence McShane

[12:27] Industry growth in Austin

[16:41] Predicting the change in commodity prices

[19:01] Effects of the labor shortage

[21:49] Austin’s infrastructure growth

[25:51] City-level challenges in development

From architecture school to construction at McShane

It’s not everyday that you’ll meet someone who has spent their entire career with the company that gave them their first job. Srinath is one of the exceptions. He talks about how he went from studying architecture in India to getting a master’s in construction management in the states. Srinath also gives some background on his construction experience in India and lays out the stark differences between India and the US in architecture. The main difference between the two is population density—and Srinath knows this well. He explains later how more density can be worked in to Austin’s growth strategy.

 “If you look at New York City, the density—I’m not talking about the buildings—but the density of New York City, most cities in India have that kind of density. You feel it.”

Have you seen in the industry a change at all in office construction since COVID?

The workplace, industry, and daily norms have all changed since COVID. Srinath gives perspective on, to what extent, COVID has affected his own industry. He says that, although higher rent increases revenue,  it’s been a challenge as the number of tenants falls. Srinath mentions that it’s often easier to knock down a building and put up a new one instead of attempting to convert or repurpose an existing building. Srinath also says that COVID has affected the circulation of industry knowledge as experienced people have retired since the pandemic.

“We lost that institutional knowledge that we assumed in the next five years, that person would have translated over to somebody else, the next breed of professionals that come through. That’s created a gap in our industry and all industries, perhaps.”


What trends are stemming from the growth in Central Texas?

Sure, Texas is big but population-wise, regions of Texas are turning into sprawling cities. As developers keep up with the growth, infrastructure lags behind. Finding solutions to growth-related issues is an integral part of Srinath’s job. In the next 25 years, it’s projected that millions more will move to Texas. Srinath says that you can’t get there with 60-foot height restrictions. As buildings are made to last 40 years, he emphasizes that the current infrastructure and height limits are unsustainable with Austin’s projected growth.

“You bring in 2x the population, they got to live somewhere, it has to be affordable. So thinking about how these people will live and the quality of life matters. Music capital of the world, how the musician is going to make it if you don’t give them the opportunity to make a living, express their talents and everything like that. They can’t have a shelter to live in. It’s not possible. So I think the city has to make some shifts, some sensible decisions.” 


What are some of the hurdles at the city level for construction? 

Srinath says that, like in other industries, the city is short-staffed which creates issues as Austin’s city stretches outward and upward. He notes that, right now, it can take up to three years to get a building entitled to occupancy. He says that the city needs to form task forces that specialize and help the city plan for certain things—and that one can’t expect the city itself to plan it. Srinath adds that if there was an opportunity to fix these issues in the city, he would join in to make a difference.

“Bring in people, developers, former consortium of people that really live in Austin and want to make a difference. Bring them together. I would participate if there was an opportunity to make a difference. I think that’s what they need: some leadership, some assertive leadership that takes us in the right direction.”



Keep up with Srinath on LinkedIn.

Visit the Cadence McShane website.

If you enjoyed this podcast, check out more episodes on AudibleiHeart, and Youtube.

Learn more about the Bukowski Law Firm and the Greater Texas Podcast on our website and Youtube channel.

Adapting to an Evolving Austin with Srinath Kasturi Read More »

Diani Zuniga Commercial Real Estate Pioneer

The Future of Austin Real Estate with Diana Zuniga


This week, I’m joined by the President and Owner of Investors Alliance Diana Zuniga as we share our takes on the future of the real estate business in Austin, Texas. Diana shares her backstory on how she went from being an aspiring professional dancer to a trailblazer in the Texas real estate industry, bringing others along for the ride. We also discuss the future of real estate in Austin amid a rapidly changing world and throw out ideas on the local change we want to see. Although Austin has not been left out of challenging times, Diana says she can’t help but be optimistic for the future. 

Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Start of episode

[02:56] Starting out in real estate and the risk involved

[09:55] Real estate after covid and a possible recession

[15:21] The expansion and growth of real estate

[21:04] How elections affect real estate

[23:51] City policies for Austin real estate

What was it like, starting out in a male-dominated field?

Especially when she started in real estate, Diana entered a business world run mostly by males. Diana thinks that women are innately risk averse and, with real estate being a risky business, there aren’t as many women in commercial real estate. However, being a woman in the real estate business does come with its advantages and Diana shares some of those. All in all, despite these challenges, Diana thinks that with the right intention, people can find success in real estate.

“I think that’s part of being any professional in a very risky career, that you just have to put your intention out there and just believe and believe that it’s going to work hard . . . and of course, you have to follow through.”

Diana’s outlook on a post-covid workplace

With covid pushing people to work from home, many have wanted to stay. Diana shares her take on a good workplace model and discusses what should stay the same post-covid. From her point of view, Diana prefers one-on-one meetings over working on Teams. She thinks that there’s no substitution for an in-person, “relational” environment. On the other hand, Diana dislikes the cubicle model and mentions a possible hybrid solution. 

“Our work models are changing . . . and I know that there’s pushback from some employees in some industries on coming back but I think to build the corporate culture, to have cohesiveness, I’d much rather have a one-on-one meeting with you than zoom you or just work on Teams.”

What would a recession look like in Austin?

As experts debate on whether an American recession is inevitable, those in the real estate business prepare for any scenario—although Diana doesn’t think that a recession would mean the end for Austin. She’s optimistic about the future. She thinks back to 2008 and the financial fallout of the time. Diana emphasizes how customers would pay entirely in cash for a condo by 2010 and how things have changed—even since covid began. Diana continues, talking further on Austin’s affordability crisis and how sharply mortgage rates have risen. 

Austin in particular—we’ve always been the last fall and the first to come out.”

What’s it like, working with the city staff on projects?

Working with the city staff on real-estate projects can be a long and complicated process that requires communication between many departments. As we know, time is money and Diana shares several ideas on how things can be improved to speed up the process. To Diana, it all comes down to elected officials and how they choose to run the city. Diana emphasizes the importance of voting noting that it’s the local leadership who decides how Austin is going to grow. Overall, Diana is optimistic about Austin’s future and hopes to see more regional-focused planning for the city. 

“Some people are elected to office by a very slim margin . . . People can win by 10 votes. So your vote does matter. If you feel strongly about something, you should vote for the candidate that shares your views and make it happen—and take someone with you to vote.”



Keep up with Diana Zuniga on LinkedIn.

Visit the Investors Alliance website.

If you enjoyed this podcast, check out more episodes on Audible, iHeart, and Youtube

Learn more about the Bukowski Law Firm and the Greater Texas Podcast on our website and Youtube channel.

The Future of Austin Real Estate with Diana Zuniga Read More »

Jack Craver - Austin Politics newsletter

Making City Politics & Public Policy Accessible with Jack Craver


Jack Craver, freelance journalist and creator of the Austin Politics newsletter, joins the Greater Texas pod this week to dish the dirt on housing, transportation, parking, and many of the other issues currently coming to a head in the city of Austin. Analyzing the playing field of current politicians and upcoming elections, Jack explains the inner workings of some of Austin’s most difficult policies. How can we solve the Austin housing crisis? Jack hopes his ideas might provide us with an answer.

Timecoded Guide:

  • [00:00] Freelance journalism & finding a path to writing success in Austin
  • [04:55] Creating the Austin Politics Newsletter & explaining public policy
  • [10:15] Housing density & diversity issues in Austin’s major corridors
  • [20:51] Parking requirements & the lack of mixed use housing
  • [29:47] Transportation issues & the debate of Austin’s I-35 expansion

How did you get started with writing the Austin Politics newsletter?
Public policy and the ins and outs of city council are complicated, but Jack Craver aims to make even the most policy-heavy, regulation-filled moments of Austin politics accessible and understandable for all of us. Starting his journalism journey in Madison, Wisconsin, Jack ended up in Austin after his wife’s job brought his family to Texas and began freelancing with a political focus in mind. Originally a blog, the Austin Politics Newsletter has grown into a successful email newsletter delivered right to subscribers’ inboxes every weekday.

“I spend a lot of time watching city council meetings, city commissions, interviewing people, looking through city documents, and then, trying to come up with an interesting angle on what I find. My mission is to get in the weeds of public policy, but to make it accessible to normies.” 

What do you think are the biggest issues facing Austin in the housing area?
Diversity and demand play major parts in the war over accessible, affordable housing in Austin. Although Jack believes council members and city politicians believe the issue of affordable housing isn’t going away on its own, he feels frustrated that many outdated policies are still being held up for Austin housing development. We need to build faster, cheaper, and bigger housing units, but many restrictions limit builders and developers from even scratching the surface of what Austin families need in order to live here.

“We don’t have enough housing, and we don’t have enough diversity in housing. We need a lot more supply, we need a lot more options, and then, we also need to just make it cheaper to build whatever kind of housing is legal.”


Are there other things that could change that could help our housing problems?
Many issues plague the Austin housing situation, but some are especially uselessly difficult and restrictive, such as Austin’s strict parking requirements. Not only do these requirements (along with many others) make very little sense in our city, it also drives up housing costs and building costs as well. Eliminating barriers to building housing, especially multi-family housing, is one of the most impactful things we could do to create affordable city housing in Austin.

“We should eliminate parking requirements. There’s no justification for parking requirements ever. They never make sense. It’s frustrating explaining this to people. Parking is not going away. I’m just saying, there’s no reason the government should ever mandate parking ever.”

What are your thoughts on transportation issues in the city of Austin?
Jack doesn’t have many opinions on the specific initiatives to expand highways like I-35— except for the understandable belief that these solutions won’t work long-term. Austin’s lack of public transportation harms all of us, from negative impact on the environment to unrealistic pricing raising on the cost of living in Austin. Jack explains that if public transportation isn’t prioritized, we’ll continue to suffer the expensive consequences of car-centric living.

“I’m just really focused on trying to undo what I see is the error of the car-centric planning that has prevailed since World War II. I think Austin should draw inspiration from Hyde Park and Clarksville and our old neighborhoods.”


Keep up with Jack Craver on Twitter, or reach out to him via email at jack@austinpolitics.net

Subscribe to Jack’s Austin Politics Newsletter

If you enjoyed this podcast, check out more episodes on AudibleiHeart, and Youtube

Learn more about the Bukowski Law Firm and the Greater Texas podcast on our website and Youtube channel

Making City Politics & Public Policy Accessible with Jack Craver Read More »

Expanding Austin's South by Southwest Experience with Hugh Forrest

Expanding Austin’s South by Southwest Experience with Hugh Forrest

I’m joined by Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer at South by Southwest (SXSW), to talk about the relationship the festival has with its host city, Austin. Founded in 1987, South by Southwest welcomes music, film, and technology creatives from around the globe to downtown Austin every March. More recently, SXSW has announced an expansion project in Australia and has hinted at incorporating more of Texas in its yearly festival. I interviewed Hugh to learn more about what the future of SXSW looks like.

Timecoded Guide:

  • [00:00] Introducing Hugh, Chief Programming Officer at South by Southwest
  • [08:27] Putting on the 2021 South by Southwest during COVID
  • [14:39] Austin affordable housing & Texas’ starving artist problem
  • [21:31] Securing against violent situations during festival events
  • [25:46] Expanding SXSW with South by Sydney, Australia


Has growth been steady for South by Southwest during its over-30-year history? 

Joining SXSW in 1989, Hugh has been with the festival almost since the beginning— he even provided the first computer ever used in the South by Southwest office. A lot has changed since the humble beginnings as a 3-day music festival, but Hugh has credited the addition of film and technology as massive sources of popularity growth for SXSW. Expanding now to 9 days, Hugh explains that the goal for the SXSW team is to continue to push the envelope of what’s new in creative spaces and stay ahead of the curve for upcoming event ideas.

“In 1994, SXSW added what was then called Film and Multimedia. Adding this film component to the event was very much one of [the founding] dreams. It made sense because you had this burgeoning, emerging film scene in Austin, with Linklater and Rodriguez and other folks.”


How has COVID affected the current version of SXSW?

One of the first event casualties of the COVID lockdown was the 2020 South by Southwest, which was unfortunately canceled due to safety concerns. Since that cancellation, Hugh explains that SXSW has looked different from 2018 and 2019’s meteoric successes. Crowds have been smaller, staffing has been limited, and the festival has incorporated more virtual options. Thankfully, Hugh was encouraged by 2022’s success and hopes 2023’s SXSW puts pandemic woes behind them.

“The dynamic of the event is you work on this for 9 months, it’s a long slog and the payoff when the event happens is you think, ‘Wow, this was worth all the tough stuff.’ In 2020, when we didn’t have that event, you actually had a negative payoff of having to lay off your friends.”


Has the higher cost of living in Austin impacted South by Southwest? 

Anyone who listens to the show knows that affordability in Austin is a huge concern of mine, and Hugh matches my concern. Inflation and rising costs of living have been negatively impacting Austin’s community, especially in relation to lower income creative careers. SXSW has had to raise prices and festival attendees have expressed concern about Austin’s expensive hotel rates. Hugh hopes for stronger support for lower income communities and advocates for a better public transportation system to offset rising costs.

“15 years ago, South by Southwest was a fairly cheap event to attend. That has completely flipped on its head in recent years. We’ve raised our ticket prices, and it’s harder for people to attend that way. Plus, if you’re wanting to get a downtown hotel room, it’s fairly pricey.”


What are the next steps SXSW is taking to expand beyond the city of Austin?

We throw around a lot of ideas for future SXSW expansions in this episode, including potentially reaching out to other communities and cities in Texas and throughout the US to host events. However, all hypotheticals aside, South by Southwest has already taken the “South by” brand on the road— all the way to Sydney, Australia. In 2023, South by Sydney will have its first festival, similar to Austin’s fest and brand new to Australia’s incredible independent audience of amazing creatives.

“We announced that we are doing an event in Sydney, Australia in October 2023. This is called South by Sydney. This is the first time we’ve ever licensed our name to another event. We’ve done events elsewhere, but they haven’t been called ‘South by,’ so this is a big deal.”


Keep up with Hugh Forrest on LinkedIn

Learn more about South by Southwest and buy tickets for 2023’s event on SXSW.com

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